Values and Priorities

We are people from all across the political and cultural spectrums. But we all agree on one thing – the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. Together, we advance policies that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies. We are committed to a more just and humane future, and we will speak out until the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

Reducing the Role of Criminalization

More than half a million people are locked up in U.S. prisons and jails today for violating a drug law. They are disproportionately black and Hispanic. It costs billions of dollars annually to incarcerate them. We believe people should not be punished solely for what they put into their bodies, but only for crimes that hurt others. And we know that when people struggle with drug misuse, compassion is typically more effective than punishment. 

Responsible Marijuana Regulation

Marijuana prohibition has resulted in more than 20 million arrests since 1965 and has deprived responsible people of their jobs, educational opportunities, housing and freedom. It is unique among American criminal laws – no other law is both enforced so widely and harshly yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the population. Our marijuana policy reform efforts focus on making marijuana legally available for medical purposes, reducing criminal penalties and arrests for possession, and ultimately ending marijuana prohibition in the United States. 

Promoting Health, Reducing Harm

DPA works to reduce the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both
drug use and drug prohibition. DPA focuses on the overdose crisis by advocating for expanded access to the overdose antidote naloxone, supervised injection facilities and 911 Good Samaritan laws. We promote counseling and treatment including maintenance therapies such as methadone, buprenorphine and prescribed heroin programs for people struggling with addiction. And we’re committed to reducing HIV and hepatitis C through sterile syringe exchange programs for people who inject drugs.

Empowering Youth, Parents and Educators

DPA promotes effective drug education for youth that moves beyond inaccurate, fear-based messages and zero-tolerance policies by offering honest, reality based information grounded in dialogue and trust. America’s young people are bombarded
with ineffective, taxpayer-funded messages. Still, national surveys indicate that over half of American teenagers have experimented with an illegal drug or misused a prescription medication. Parents and schools want children to abstain, but a fallback strategy is needed for teens who just say “yes” or “maybe” or “sometimes” to alcohol and other drug use. Our Safety First and Just4Teens materials provide parents and educators with honest information and realistic options for dealing with adolescent drug use.