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Americans increasingly opposed to the war on drugs

Of all the wars America has fought, no war has been as enduring and expensive as the war on drugs. And the costs are not simply economic. They also include the disproportionately long prison sentences given to nonviolent drug offenders. This is, in part, how America became the greatest incarcerator of its own citizens in the world.

But attitudes are changing, which means legal reforms may not be far behind. The Pew Research Center recently released the results of a national survey showing how Americans feel about current drug laws. On the whole, the majority of Americans seem to believe that the government should be offering chemical dependency treatment rather than incarceration, and that marijuana should be legalized.

Survey respondents showed particular opposition to mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses. About 63 percent of respondents believe it is a good thing that many states seem to be moving away from mandatory minimums in drugs crimes cases.

The country's attitudes about marijuana are also changing. Just over half of Americans (54 percent) believe that marijuana should be legalized. Only 16 percent are opposed to legalization of the drug for recreational or medical use.

The public still seems opposed to harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. However, about two-thirds of respondents agree that the government should focus less on prosecution for non-violent offenders who use these drugs and instead offer chemical dependency treatment.

Of course, South Carolina's laws and policies do not necessarily reflect these changing attitudes. Marijuana is not legal for any reason, and more than 28,000 South Carolinians are arrested for drug offenses each year.

Americans might be changing their attitudes about the war on drugs. But as long as current drug laws remain in place, anyone facing drug charges has a lot to lose. For this and other reasons, they need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: DrugPolicy.org, "New Pew Poll Confirms Americans Ready to End War on Drugs," press release, April 2, 2014

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