Everything You Need to Know About Marijuana Legalization, the Drug War, and the Future of Drug Policy

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March 4, 2014 - By Jag Davies and Daniel Robelo

Our phones are ringing off the hook these days at the Drug Policy Alliance.

All sorts of people, from all sorts of backgrounds – members of the media, elected officials, academics, faith leaders, and many others – are hungry for information.

What does a health-centered approach to drug policy look like in practice? What are the differences between Colorado's and Washington’s marijuana legalization laws? What are the differences between decriminalization and legalization? What’s going on with all these new synthetic drugs?

Just about everyone seems to agree that the war on drugs has been an utter catastrophe. But why? And what sorts of pragmatic policies are already available to reduce the role of criminalization in drug policy, while improving public safety and health?

To answer these questions – and many more – we have produced a series of 18 systematic, thoroughly-cited position papers and fact sheets about some of the key issues we’re facing day-to-day:

Marijuana Reform:

1)    Medical Marijuana
2)    Marijuana Decriminalization and Legal Regulation: Why is Decriminalization Not Enough?
3)    Harms of Marijuana Criminalization: Just a Slap on the Wrist?  
4)    Marijuana Legalization in Colorado and Washington

Health and Harm Reduction:

5)     911 Good Samaritan Laws: Preventing Overdose, Saving Lives
6)     Supervised Injection Facilities
7)     The Drug War: Fueling the HIV/AIDS Pandemic
8)     The Cost of a Slow Learning Curve (“In countries where addiction is treated as a health issue, the fight against AIDS is being won”)
9)     Sterile Syringe Access
10)   Heroin-Assisted Treatment (HAT)

Comprehensive Drug Policy Reform:

11)    Approaches to Decriminalizing Drug Use and Possession
12)    Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: A Health-Centered Approach
13)    The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race
14)    Women, Prison and the Drug War
15)    Federal Drug Control Budget: New Rhetoric, Same Failed Drug War
16)    Synthetic Drugs and "Legal Highs": Establish Restrictions But Don't Criminalize Them
17)    New Zealand's Groundbreaking Regulatory Model for New Synthetic Drugs
18)    Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

As we move from critiquing the drug war to envisioning and creating a world without it, more and more people are looking for reliable resources about what’s worked and what hasn’t worked – and why.

Please feel free to use these resources in your own work – and encourage others to do so as well.

Jag Davies is the publications manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.
Daniel Robelo is the research coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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