A new poll has recently found that DC voters are strongly favoring proposals for broadly decriminalizing drugs such as cannabis and establishing harm reduction centers.
Just a week after the activists made an announcement to pressure local lawmakers for enacting the reforms, a group of activists released a survey hinting how popular the policy changes are amongst the residents of D.C.
It is also found during the survey that the voters are more likely to select local legislators who would embrace decriminalization. 83 percent of survey respondents have voted in favor of passing an ordinance that removes penalties on possession of small amount of commonly used controlled substances.
The survey further questioned the participants to learn if they support the increased funding over substance use treatment, housing, healthcare and other services for individuals who are coping with addiction, poverty and other underlying health conditions. The response was positive and has made the advocates happy who were battling to push for changes for better healthcare and safety facilities for the residents.
DecrimPovertyDC, which is an alliance of advocacy groups such as the Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), is pleading with the District Council to take up the cause. The members of the groups have met the legislators and have received a positive response.
The policy manager for DPA’s Office of National Affairs, Queen Adesuyi shared that, “Washingtonians are genuinely ready for D.C. Council to put an end to the arrests linked to drug use and possession. They also support the construction of a robust public health infrastructure that could support Washingtonians who need and want assistance.”
She further added that the Washingtonians can already sense that the drug war is getting worse and is affecting public safety and health. They are determined to push the legislators to listen to their constituents.
Our bill proposal is massively supported by D.C. voters and DC’s communities hardest hit by the drug war. @councilofdc, the time is now to end arresting people for drugs and invest in health & harm reduction. Learn more here: https://t.co/dKd3lesFgU https://t.co/IPGzNm96LY
— #DecrimPovertyDC (@decrimpovertydc) October 26, 2021
The new poll conducted by FM3 Research recorded public opinion on a lot of issues the coalition is backing. 72 percent of survey respondents claim that they would more likely vote for council members who embraced the reforms.
When the pros and cons were explained to the respondents, the support dipped slightly. However, 77 percent still said that they backed the policy changes.
Despite the exchange on the positives and critical messaging on the decriminalization proposal, three-quarters of Washingtonians extended their support to policy changes. Adesuyi further added that they have enough support to lead a ballot campaign. However, they decided to embark on a legal path to ensure that they could receive funds for investing in public health and infrastructure development.
Though decriminalizing the personal use and deciding on the quantities of drugs that could be permitted is not a radical move, it is in fact an urgent step that could dismantle the harmful drug war. It would challenge years of drug propaganda and socialization of fear.
When the survey participants were asked if they would like to weigh in on each specific policy proposal that DecrimPovertyDC is pushing for, a majority favored all of them. For instance, 95 percent said that they support providing additional funding to connect individuals suffering from health complications, addictions, and more.
#DecrimPovertyDC released polling data where 72% of DC voters said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports drug decriminalization. @councilofdc, your constituents want more public health services, not criminal penalties. It’s time to #DecriminalizeDrugs. pic.twitter.com/rCYT7dyavA
— #DecrimPovertyDC (@decrimpovertydc) October 26, 2021
Ninety-three percent said that they back establishing 24/7 centers to provide health, harm reduction, and overdose prevention services to people who use drugs.
Furthermore, 86 percent of respondents said that they favor the creation of an advisory board so that they could set thresholds on identifying the amount of the drug that was safe for personal use and also decide the amount that could attract punishment. The poll involved online and telephonic interviews with November 2022 voters and was held from June 30 to July 8 this year.
Under the latest proposal from the group, the mayor would be required to set up a harm reduction center where people could access sterile needles and receive treatment resources. The legislation also allows for the creation of safe consumption sites where people could use drugs within a medically supervised environment.
This could be challenging as the Supreme Court recently rejected a request for setting up a safe injection site. A similar request was rejected by the Trump administration for a facility in Philadelphia.
The D.C. Campaign is also backed by AIDS United, Defund MPD, and various other groups. The activists are further pushing for projects to mend the harms and criminalization in part by requiring the courts to identify and vacate convictions for offenses decriminalized by the bill. They would also be required to find and vacate cases related to drug paraphernalia which was decriminalized last year due to separate legislation.
Oregon voters recently approved a historic initiative for decriminalizing drug possession. Multiple jurisdictions across the U.S. the previous month have taken a step in this regard. The lawmakers in Massachusetts heard testimony on various proposals for decriminalizing possession of drugs and for creating a pilot program for safe injection facilities.
The Maine Senate in summer rejected a bill that could have decriminalized possession of all illicit drugs. The governor of Rhode Island signed a bill in July for creating a pilot program for legalizing safe consumption sites.
There is a sense of urgency noted in D.C. to push the decriminalizing bill. Many activist groups have come forward to make this a reality. They are in talks with the legislators to put their point forward to the lawmakers to make things right.