Legal Access to Drugs


Marijuana should be removed from the criminal justice system and regulated in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco. There are five jurisdictions in the United States that have rejected the prohibition of marijuana and changed their laws to legalize small amounts of marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. Marijuana legalization won on the ballot in Colorado and Washington in the 2012 election, and in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., in the 2014 election.

Legalizing and regulating marijuana will bring the nation's largest cash crop under the rule of law. This will create countless jobs and economic opportunities in the formal economy, while largely eliminating the illicit market and the crime, corruption, and violence that comes with it.

Access to Psychedelics and Other Drugs

DPA is working to end the criminalization of people who use psychedelics and to help create legal contexts for their use. It’s long past time to stop handcuffing and locking people up simply for using or possessing a psychedelic drug.

MDMA, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms are showing great success in treating addiction, PTSD, and other conditions in scientific studies. These substances have great potential to heal and have been wrongly demonized for decades. We’re working closely with MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) to expose and overcome the political obstacles that are still hindering scientific research. Last year, DPA and MAPS co-published an influential report, The DEA: Four Decades of Obstructing Scientific Research that revealed how marijuana and psychedelic drug research has been systematically blocked by the federal government.

But what about the use of psychedelics outside of medical or other clinical contexts? Some of the most important work we’re doing right now is around changing the debate about how psychedelics are perceived and managed.

One key piece of DPA’s work on psychedelics is a new project, Music Fan, focused on safety in nightlife and festival spaces. These settings have always been sites for drug use, from the ubiquitous alcohol to MDMA, psychedelics and a range of other substances. The Music Fan program aims to end harmful zero tolerance policies by working with universities, festivals, nightlife venues, and other institutions to instead promote life-saving harm reduction measures, such as allowing drug checking, access to fact-based drug information, and onsite mental health services.

We are also building a foundation to grow support for regulated access to psychedelics in the future, while debunking unsubstantiated myths about psychedelics that are the vestiges of the drug war by educating the public about their histories, traditional uses, and clinical findings.

Ultimately drug policies need to move in the direction of allowing people to obtain drugs they want or need from legally regulated sources – in ways that minimize any risks to broader public safety and health.  Clinics throughout Europe and other parts of the world dispense legal, pharmaceutical heroin to heroin-dependent clients via heroin-assisted treatment, and the ‘New Zealand’ model provides an example of how novel psychoactive drugs could be regulated for safety and legal recreational use. The great design challenge for drug policy reform lies in creating effective regulatory schemes and considering broader regulation of drugs other than marijuana.

Learn More

Using Psychedelics Shouldn’t Be a Crime

Emerging Opportunities for Psychedelic Policy Reform

Nick Gillespie, editor in chief, Reason, debating the drug war and drug legalization with former DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson 

What do psychedelics have to do with drug policy reform? A discussion featuring Jacob Sullum, Rick Doblin and Marsha Rosenbaum at DPA’s Reform Conference

Legal Access to Drugs