A new survey has found that more than 50% of Americans believe the country has lost ground in the war on drugs. The poll, conducted by Gallup, also showed that 24% of respondents believed America had made progress. This is quite a difference from responses given on the same query in a 2019 survey, which stood at 30% for losing ground to 41% for making progress.
This difference can be attributed to growing concern and awareness about the opioid epidemic, which has seen many individuals fall victim to drugs such as fentanyl. The shift may also reflect increased awareness on how the criminalization of drugs by the federal government has failed to produce any positive outcomes.
The analysis also showed that 75% of Republicans believed America had made no progress on illicit drugs while only 12% held positive views. Most Independents also held negative views as per the poll results, with 52% believing that the situation was worsening and only 22% believing progress had been made. With regard to Democrats, 27% felt the situation was getting worse while 40% believed they had seen improvements.
The report noted that it was possible that the media had played a role in fueling the negative perspective on the drug war, with some coverage feeding into a narrative that associated the misuse of some substances with progressive politicians and policies. The poll also found that about 74% of Americans thought the drug problem was extremely severe, with Independents and Republicans rating the situation in their local areas similarly at almost 40%. Democrats, on the other hand, were less likely to believe this, with only 27% reporting these sentiments.
While the drug issue in the country wasn’t explicitly defined, Gallup noted that the results were released at a time when the number of individuals succumbing to overdoses of dangerous drugs was rapidly increasing. In its conclusion, the polling firm stated that the general public was the most pessimistic it had ever been with regard to the illicit drug problem in the country. It further noted that increasing concern about the nation’s progress could make drugs an even more significant campaign issue in the 2024 presidential elections, which would in turn put more pressure on candidates to formulate plans to address the issue.
Thus far, all Republican primary debates for presidential candidates have touched on the fentanyl overdose epidemic, with candidates such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie emphasizing the importance of focusing on addiction treatment and preventative care. Others, such as the current governor of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, have called for a militarized response that targets drug traffickers.
The discontent that the American population has regarding the way the federal government has handled drug policy echoes the frustrations that the marijuana industry and its actors such as TerrAscend Corp. (TSX: TSND) (OTCQX: TSNDF) go through as they endeavor to serve their customers while adhering to state laws and trying to navigate contradictory federal law at the same time.
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