Press Release  | 10/29/2002

Time Magazine Cover Story Highlights Strong and Growing Public Support for Marijuana Law Reform

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80% of Americans Support Medical Marijuana, 72% Want Fines, Not Jail for Marijuana Possession
800,000 Annual Marijuana Arrests, Loss of Public Housing, Loss of Financial Aid Persist Despite Public Call for Less Punishment

Seventy-two percent of Americans think people arrested for marijuana possession should face fines and not jail time, according to a new TIME/CNN poll that also shows eighty percent of Americans supporting the medical use of marijuana. TIME Magazine's new cover story, "Is America Going to Pot?," highlights the popular support for marijuana policies based on science and public health rather than policies grounded in the criminal justice system.

"This is one area where the public has led, and continues to lead, the politicians," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Voters around the country are just saying no to the federal war on medical marijuana and to the massive number of marijuana-related arrests that clog our courts and prisons."

While the Time cover article highlights individuals who have helped fund organizations that support access to medical marijuana, sentencing reform, and other key drug law reforms, it fails to mention the $7.5 billion that taxpayers spend annually arresting individuals for marijuana violations or the $10 billion spent prosecuting those individuals. According to Nadelmann, "The drug czar's office spends on a day's worth of ads what the entire drug policy reform movement spends in a year. And clearly, when seven in ten Americans say locking people up for smoking pot is wrong, they don't want their tax money financing the government's failed $40 billion a year war on drugs."

Although 33 states and Washington, D.C., home to 70% of the U.S. population, have laws on their books that allow or are otherwise favorable to medical marijuana, the government's expensive war on marijuana continues:

  • 800,000 people are arrested on marijuana charges each year. These arrests make up half of all drug arrests in the U.S. Nearly 90% of these arrests are for marijuana possession.
  • 60,000 individuals are incarcerated for marijuana charges, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion annually.
  • Punishments for marijuana-related convictions include eviction from public housing, loss of federal financial aid for college, and loss of welfare benefits
  • Federal agents continue to raid medical marijuana hospices, arresting AIDS, cancer and other terminally individuals in states where voters have overwhelmingly supported the medical use of marijuana
  • Police arrest more Americans per year on marijuana charges than for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

ATTENTION JOURNALISTS: Drug Policy Alliance spokespeople are available for interviews or for further information. Please contact Shayna Samuels at 212-547-6916 or Tony Newman at 510-208-7711.


Shayna Samuels at 646-523-6961 or Tony Newman at 510-208-7711

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