Reforming Marijuana Laws

Marijuana prohibition is an utter failure. Public opinion has shifted in favor of reforming federal and state marijuana laws. It’s not hard to see why.

  • Prohibitionist laws waste billions of dollars criminalizing marijuana users, even for low-level offenses.
  • Black people and Latinos are disproportionately arrested for marijuana even though white people use marijuana at similar rates.
  • Prohibition fosters an illegal marijuana market that benefits organized crime, drug cartels and gangs.
  • Extremely ill patients are unable to access beneficial medical marijuana treatment.

Legalizing marijuana would allow law enforcement agencies to focus on real crime and bring in new sources of tax revenue.

Key Marijuana Issues

Legalization and Regulation
Learn about current marijuana laws and ongoing efforts to legalize and regulate it for adults.

Medical Marijuana
See where medical marijuana is available and how advocates are working to ensure access for patients.


How did marijuana become illegal in the first place? Learn about the racist origins of marijuana laws and how cannabis went from common medicine to demonized drug.


Our Commitment to Legalizing Marijuana for Adults

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is a leader in the movement to legalize and regulate marijuana.

Our priorities

  • The elimination of criminal penalties for the adult use of marijuana
  • The creation of a legal regulatory market for the responsible production and distribution of marijuana
  • The establishment of laws that provide and protect access to medical marijuana

DPA works to reduce marijuana-related arrests and associated penalties by drafting and promoting state and federal marijuana laws. We also manage state-based ballot initiative campaigns and provide resources and expertise to patients, activists, journalists, litigators, and elected officials.

Our work

  • DPA was involved financially and conceptually in each of the campaigns to legalize and regulate marijuana on the state level starting with Prop 19 in California in 2010. This paved the way for the 2012 victories in Washington and Colorado and the 2014 victories in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.
  • DPA played a primary role in the passage of medical marijuana laws in nine states, starting with California’s Proposition 215 in 1996.
  • DPA advised governments at the highest level in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia on reforming their drug policies and advised Uruguay when they became the first country to legalize marijuana.

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