Fact Sheet

Marijuana Legalization in Washington State and Colorado

February 12, 2014

In November 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington State took the historic step of rejecting the decades-long failed policy of marijuana prohibition by deciding to permit the legal regulation of marijuana sales, cultivation and distribution for adults. This document explains why states can chart a different course without violating federal law, and summarizes the similarities and differences between Colorado and Washington State’s new laws.

LGBT Communities and Drug Policy Reform

January 31, 2013

Personal sovereignty informs both the LGBT liberation and drug policy reform movements. Police surveillance and repression, along with stigma and moral panic, have been used to great effect against both LGBT individuals and people who use drugs.

The Federal Drug Control Budget

February 19, 2014

The Obama administration says that drug use should be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. Yet both his budget and his drug policies continue to emphasize enforcement, prosecution and incarceration at home, and interdiction, eradication and military escalation abroad. Even what the government does spend on treatment and prevention is overstated, as many of its programs are wasteful and counterproductive.

The Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Race

July 21, 2014

With less than 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of its incarcerated population, the United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world – largely due to the war on drugs. Misguided drug laws and draconian sentencing requirements have produced profoundly unequal outcomes for communities of color. Although rates of drug use and selling are comparable across racial and ethnic lines, blacks and Latinos are far more likely to be criminalized for drug law violations than whites.

Approaches to Decriminalizing Drug Use and Possession

February 19, 2014

One solution to reducing the number of people swept into the criminal justice system for drug law violations is to enact various forms of decriminalization of drug use and possession. Decriminalization is the removal of criminal penalties for drug law violations (usually possession for personal use). Roughly two dozen countries, and dozens of U.S. cities and states, have taken steps toward decriminalization. By decriminalizing possession and investing in treatment and harm reduction services, we can reduce the harms of drug misuse while improving public safety and health.

Don't Take Away our Medicine!

October 25, 2012

A campaign to protect safe access to medical marijuana for PTSD patients

Medical Marijuana

August 8, 2014

One of the most egregious outcomes of marijuana prohibition is that many seriously ill people cannot legally access the medicine that works best for them. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing the use of marijuana for qualifying patients under state law. While state medical marijuana programs differ from one another in significant ways, most are tightly controlled programs regulated by the state departments of public health.

Why is Marijuana Decriminalization Not Enough?

April 15, 2014

Decriminalization of marijuana possession is a necessary first step toward a more comprehensive reform of the drug prohibition regime. However decriminalization alone does not address many of the greatest harms of prohibition – such as high levels of crime, corruption and violence, massive illicit markets and the harmful health consequences of drugs produced in the absence of regulatory oversight.

Just a Slap on the Wrist? The Life-Changing Consequences of a Marijuana Arrest

April 15, 2014

Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. In 2012, there were 749,825 marijuana arrests in the U.S. – nearly half of all drug arrests. Almost 90 percent of these arrests were for simple possession, not sale or manufacture. Blacks and Latinos are arrested at vastly disproportionate rates, even though white people use and sell marijuana at similar rates. A marijuana arrest is no small matter – the arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks.

Faces of Medical Marijuana

January 31, 2013

For many people, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering, or treats symptoms of their medical condition, without debilitating side effects. Marijuana has been shown to alleviate symptoms of a broad variety of serious medical conditions including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma, and is often an effective alternative to synthetic painkillers. These are the stories of people who have experienced the medical safety and efficacy of marijuana in their own lives.

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