Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition
Nearly half of all drug arrests each year are for marijuana-related offenses.
Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately affected by marijuana arrests.
Since illegal businesses have no legitimate means to settle disputes, violence inevitably results.
Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. Nearly half of all drug arrests each year are for marijuana-related offenses, the overwhelming majority of which are for personal possession. These arrests fall disproportionately on blacks and Latinos, although whites consume marijuana at the same rate or higher. Many of those who are arrested are saddled with a criminal conviction that can make it difficult or impossible to vote, obtain educational loans, get a job, secure housing, or even adopt a child. Additionally, the huge number of marijuana arrests each year usurps scarce law enforcement, criminal justice, and treatment resources at enormous cost to U.S. taxpayers.
Marijuana prohibition has also caused incalculable violence and destruction by fostering an illegal marijuana market. Organized crime, drug cartels, and gangs are the greatest financial beneficiaries of marijuana prohibition. In Mexico, illegal marijuana sales have contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of lives.
The Drug Policy Alliance aims to reduce the number, racially disproportionate nature, and potential collateral consequences of marijuana arrests, as well as other harms resulting from marijuana prohibition.