A substantial majority of New Hampshire presidential primary voters support decriminalizing drug possession, according to a new poll released by the Drug Policy Alliance. Sixty-six percent of voters in the first-in-the-nation primary, including half of all Republicans and 68 percent of independents, think people caught with a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use should be evaluated for drug issues, offered treatment but not be arrested or face any jail time.
These findings come in the midst of escalating overdose deaths across the country and unprecedented focus by presidential candidates on alternatives to harsh, ineffective drug policies. Eighty percent of New Hampshire primary voters consider addressing prescription drug and other drug abuse and the recent surge in overdose deaths an important or urgent issue. Sixty-nine percent, including 56 percent of Republicans, say drug abuse should be treated primarily as a health problem rather than a criminal justice problem.
“Now is the time for policymakers to show leadership by laying out clear plans to move our country from a failed criminal justice approach to drugs to a health-based approach,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “Their goal should be reducing the role that criminalization and the criminal justice system play in dealing with drugs and drug use as much as possible.”