The majority of police officers in the United States believe that marijuana should be made legal in some form or fashion, according to a new national survey.
Earlier this week, the Pew Research Center together with the National Police Research Platform published a new report that finds that 68 percent of law enforcement officers agree that the government should reconsider its federal ban on the cannabis plant.
The breakdown suggests that a third of the respondents said marijuana should be made legal only for medicinal purposes; while 37 percent said it should be legalized in a manner similar to beer. Another 30 percent said the nation should continue to wage a war on weed.
Although the results of the survey may sound encouraging, the main takeaway is unfortunately that law enforcement officers are still not as enthusiastic about the reversal of prohibition as the average citizen. In fact, it was just recently that a Gallup poll found the strongest public support for marijuana in American history – 60 percent of the population now believes pot should be taxed and regulated in the same manner as alcoholic beverages.
Still, while the overall attitude of the American police force seems to support legalization, that has not prevented these same men and women from busting hundreds of thousands of people for weed every year. Some of the latest data shows that cops arrested 574,000 people in 2015 for simple possession – putting arrests for petty marijuana offenses above all violent crime combined. What’s more is there is evidence that these arrests may be racially driven, putting black and Hispanic citizens at an increased risk for police harassment.
The report, which was compiled using the answers of almost 8,000 law enforcement officers, also finds that 56 percent believe “an aggressive rather than courteous approach is more effective” when dealing with certain neighborhoods. Another 44 percent said getting physical is the best method for getting a person to listen to reason.
However, 86 percent said that high profile cases involving cops shooting unarmed citizens have resulted in more officers hesitating to approach people who “look or act suspicious” on the street.