Drug War Poll Shows Americans Believe U.S. Is Losing

11/13/2012 07:06 pm ET | Updated Nov 14, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Americans believe overwhelmingly that the U.S. is losing the war on drugs and are unenthusiastic about spending more money to win it, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday.

The national telephone survey found only 7 percent of American adults think the United States is winning the war on drugs, while 82 percent say the country is losing and 12 percent aren't sure. That's a marked decrease in support since AngusReid Public Opinion last posed the question in June, when two-thirds of Americans considered it a failure.

The U.S. government's war on drugs, officially launched in 1971, costs an estimated $20 billion to $25 billion annually in anti-drug policy efforts alone, according to reporting from The New York Times. That doesn't include the tremendous costs associated with prosecuting and incarcerating drug offenders. Meanwhile, hard drug use in America remains steady.

Only 23 percent of survey responders felt the U.S. doesn't spend enough on the war on drugs, while 34 percent think it spends too much. Other poll findings:

-- 51 percent of respondents said alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, while 24 percent said pot is more dangerous and 24 percent aren't sure.

-- 60 percent said marijuana laws should be left to the states, while 27 percent said enforcement should be done by the federal government.

-- 88 percent of respondents said they hadn't smoked pot in the last year.

-- Recent pot users are twice as likely as non-users -- 60 percent to 30 percent -- to think the government spends too much money on the war on drugs.

The survey, which sampled 1,000 adults on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10, comes after residents of Colorado and Washington voted last week to approve legalization of recreational marijuana, a historic move that puts them at odds with the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The survey had a sampling error of +/- three percentage points with a confidence level of 95 percent.

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