NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Electorate Votes Against The Drug War

November 29, 2000

Whether or not the war on drugs is winning in the streets, it's taken a beating at the election booth. Three weeks ago, voters in five states overwhelmingly passed drug policy reform initiatives.

  • This year, California passed Proposition 36 with more than 60 percent of the popular vote shifting the criminal justice system's focus from incarceration to treatment.
  • Utah and Oregon passed, by 69 percent and 66 percent, respectively, laws that make it harder for police to seize the property of suspected drug offenders.
  • Colorado and Nevada passed initiatives making marijuana legal for medical use -- joining Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.
  • Since 1996, 17 of the 19 drug policy reform initiatives have passed.

The impact of the California reforms will be profound. A third of California's inmates are behind bars on drug charges. Under the proposition, up to 36,000 non-violent drug offenders and parole violators are expected to be put into treatment programs instead. Proposition 36 is also expected to save California taxpayers more than $200 million a year, and an additional $500 million by eliminating the need for new prisons.

Source: Ariana Huffington, "People Want Cease Fire on War on Drugs," Dallas Morning News, November 27, 2000.


Browse more articles on Government Issues