DPA opposes efforts to criminalize and incarcerate people simply for using or possessing prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Instead, we recommend policies that deal with prescription drug use and misuse from a health-oriented perspective.

These are ten top facts about marijuana policy and effects, with detailed supporting information and citations.

On Thursday, July 17, 2014, the “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-305)” took effect in the District of Columbia, and makes possession of marijuana punishable by a $25 fine instead of jail time. This new law is expected to enhance civil rights in the District of Columbia by reducing racial disparities in arrest rates for marijuana possession.

Since retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products began in Colorado in 2014, efforts to ensure the safety and encourage the safe consumption of these products have been ongoing. Colorado law requires that each package or container of retail marijuana, retail marijuana product, and retail marijuana concentrate include necessary and relevant information for consumers, does not include health and physical benefits claims, is easily accessible to consumers, and is clear and noticeable.

Marijuana-infused products, often referred to as “edibles”, are an important part of the burgeoning marijuana market. However, proper regulation is necessary to ensure reliability and safety. DPA believes that marijuana-infused products should be regulated and tested to ensure safety, quality and accuracy of information, that they should be labeled with detailed information to ensure that consumers are informed about what they are consuming and educated on how to safely consume, and that all edibles should be kept away from children.

Drug courts have spread across the country, yet available research does not support their continued expansion. Most drug courts do not reduce imprisonment, do not save money or improve public safety, and fail to help those struggling with drug problems. The drug court model must be corrected to play a more effective role in improving the wellbeing of people involved in the criminal justice system who suffer substance misuse problems – while preserving scarce public safety resources.

In December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana for personal use. This document is a summary of the key provisions of the law.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington State became the first two jurisdictions to legally regulate marijuana, followed by Uruguay becoming the first country to do so in 2013. This table provides a comparison of the main elements of each jurisdiction’s system.

A series of synthetic products have emerged that simulate the effects of prohibited drugs like marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine. Often called “legal highs” or “research chemicals” and largely unregulated, these drugs may cause considerably more harm than the substances they are designed to mimic. While states and Congress have rushed to prohibit these chemicals, manufacturers have simply invented new variations of the same substances to skirt the bans.

After first attempting to prohibit various synthetic drugs, New Zealand realized that simply banning these substances was unrealistic and ineffective.  In July 2013, the country’s Parliament enacted an historic new law that will regulate and control – rather than criminalize – so-called “bath salts” and other new synthetic drugs.

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