A Voter’s Guide to the Drug War

Whatever else Tuesday may bring, it looks poised to be a banner day for those of us who have long sought to end America’s failed war on drugs. And if the stars and voter participation align, it may indeed prove a tipping point in the long fight toward a possible landslide for drug war reform.

Citizens across the country will vote Tuesday on more initiatives to reform drug control policy than at any other time in American history. This is a coup in itself, of course, reflecting how much the movement to end the Drug War has gained ground in recent years. But to seal the deal and truly begin to close this harrowingly destructive chapter in American history, voters need to understand how the war has failed for over forty years to curb rates of drug addiction or abuse while instead simply shattering families, tearing communities apart, and wasting taxpayer dollars, all the while sowing popular distrust in law enforcement and filling the nation’s jails with predominantly poor, minority, and nonviolent inmates. Above all, the public needs to understand how damaging the war has been not only to other families and communities but to their own.

The good news is, increasingly, they do. After crying in the wilderness for decades, long-time advocates for drug war reform are finally seeing the tide of public opinion turn: a Pew report from earlier this year found that 67% of the country thought the government should focus on providing treatment to users of hard drugs, while only 26% thought the focus should be on criminal prosecution. That’s a sea change from just a few years ago, when “lock ’em up and throw away the key” was how most people thought the country should approach its drug problem. Tuesday, we face an opportunity to begin codifying that shift of public opinion into law, with more than seven states and seventeen municipalities deciding on crucial legislation related to marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.