The U.S. government continues to wage the War on Drugs, as it relates to marijuana, long after it's lost the support of the American people.
Our newly released poll - a survey of 1,600 North Americans done in partnership with PSB - demonstrates that it's out of step with public opinion in so many questions we posed about people's evolving views on cannabis. For example, nearly 80 percent of respondents, continent-wide, believe cannabis should be legalized in some form - recreational, medical, or both.
In another question in the survey, we asked: "In your opinion, which of the following substances has the worst long-term effect?" Amongst the choices were opiates such as heroin; stimulants like cocaine; hallucinogens such as LSD; and of course tobacco and alcohol. By a long shot, cannabis finished last on the list of drugs respondents considered the worst threat for long term health effects.
Thirty-six percent of respondents thought opiates were the most dangerous; 26 percent were most concerned about stimulants; 17 percent picked tobacco; 11 per cent chose hallucinogens; and eight percent worried most about alcohol. And cannabis? Only two percent believed it had the worst long-term effects.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, as dangerous to human health as heroin. "Substances in this schedule," it says, "have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse." All attempts to change this classification have failed to this point.
As president, Barack Obama did progressive things like commuting sentences for drug offenders and defending states rights on legalization, but White House official policy remained steadfast in opposition to legalization: "The Administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs," it said on the White House web site during his time in office, "because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people."
President Donald Trump made statements in support of medical marijuana and respecting states' rights during the election campaign, but then he made prohibitionist Jeff Sessions Attorney General, and appointed John Kelly Secretary of Homeland Security. Just yesterday, Kelly called marijuana a 'gateway' drug and promised to vigorously enforce existing drug laws through agencies under his supervision.
So there's not much hope there that progressive policy changes on cannabis are on the horizon. But there is a glimmer of hope. Our survey also revealed that 74 percent of Republican voters are themselves supportive of legalization. If Republican officials in the federal government won't listen to reason, perhaps they'll listen to their base.
Civilized partnered with PSB to conduct a survey of more than 1,600 North American adults to explore modern cannabis culture. PSB is a world renowned global strategic communication