Washington, DC

How does your state measure up when it comes to establishing policies that reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition?

Harm Reduction

Does the state permit access to clean syringes for people who inject drugs?

  • YES

Does the state have naloxone training & distribution programs available to the public at syringe exchange programs or other facilities?

  • YES

Does the state have a 911 Good Samaritan law?

  • YES

Does the state have legal methadone access?

  • YES


Are marijuana possession and use legal for medical purposes?

Is there a government-regulated distribution system for medical marijuana?

  • YES

More information on medical marijuana:

What are the criminal penalties for marijuana possession?

Criminal Justice

How many people are arrested for a drug offense each year? 

  • 210

What are the racial disparities in arrest rates?

  • Total population (2011): 42.4% white, 50.7% black.
    Drug Arrests (2011): 10.0% white, 89.5% black.

What happens to people’s voting rights when they become part of the criminal justice system?

  • Vote restored after: Term of Incarceration

Drug Policy Alliance to Host the Biennial 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in D.C. Metro Area, November 18-21

More Than 1,200 Experts and Advocates to Strategize About Mass Incarceration, Marijuana Legalization, Criminal Justice Reform, Public Health, and Post-Prohibition Models for Drug Control


Tony Newman (646)335-5384
Tommy McDonald (510)338-8827

Senate Appropriations Committee Allows Marijuana Legalization to Move Forward in Nation's Capital

Also Votes to Allow Banks to Provide Services to State-Legalized Marijuana Stores

Drug Policy Reform Moving Forward Nationally and in the States

A key Senate committee passed a bill today allowing the nation’s capital to establish regulated marijuana stores and let banks provide financial services to state-legalized marijuana dispensaries. These are just two of several marijuana reforms advancing in Congress.  Meanwhile sentencing reform is gaining steam, and the U.S. is shifting towards treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Michael Collins 404-539-6437

Marijuana Becomes Legal to Grow and Possess in Nation's Capital on Thursday

Congress Does Not Block D.C. Legalization

Advocates Urge D.C. Council to Tax and Regulate Marijuana Using District’s Reserve Funds 

WASHINGTON, DC—At 12:01a.m. Thursday, Initiative 71, a marijuana legalization ballot initiative approved by 70 percent of District residents, will complete the Congressional review period and become law. Initiative 71 legalizes the possession of two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and allows them to grow up to six plants in their home, three of which can be mature at any time.

Contact: Dr. Malik Burnett, 443-821-0260 or Bill Piper, 202-669-6430

D.C. Council to Hold Hearing on Marijuana Legalization, Taxation and Regulation in the District of Columbia

Policy Experts and Advocates to Testify in Favor of Directing Proceeds from Taxation to Communities Harmed by War on Drugs

Hearing Occurs As Initiative 71 Undergoes 30-Day Congressional Review

D.C. Councilmembers are holding a joint public hearing today on legislation introduced earlier this year that would establish a system that legalizes, taxes and regulates marijuana in the nation’s capital.

The hearing will take place today at 10am in Room 500 of the D.C. Council Chambers at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. in Washington, D.C. Advocates will provide testimony in support of using the proceeds from legalization toward rebuilding the communities most harmed by the war on drugs.

Contact: Dr. Malik Burnett, 443-821-0260 or Tony Newman, 646-335-5384

Final Year-End Federal Spending Bill Prohibits Justice Department from Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws

Spending Bill Allows Legalization of Marijuana Possession in Washington, D.C. to Move Forward, but Prevents Taxing and Regulating Marijuana like Alcohol

Momentum Builds Nationally to End the Failed War on Drugs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The final “cromnibus” federal spending bill that Congress passed over the weekend contains historic language prohibiting the U.S. Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

Contact: Michael Collins 404-539-6437 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

Emerging Consensus that DC Marijuana Legalization Can Proceed

Congressional Leaders Agree that Legislative Intent of DC Rider in Spending Bill Allows Initiative 71 to Move Forward
Tax and Regulate Legislation Blocked By Congress

WASHINGTON, DC - Republicans were successful in including language in the “cromnibus” federal spending bill that interferes with the right of Washington, D.C. to set its own marijuana policies. The language, however, was not what they originally wanted because they had to compromise with Democrats. The D.C. marijuana rider inserted in the bill allows D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization law (passed earlier this year) to stand, while prohibiting D.C. from taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol (a D.C.


Michael Collins 404-539-6437
Bill Piper 202-669-6430

HISTORIC VICTORY: Congress Prohibits Justice Department from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws

Top Congressional Leaders Side with States on Hemp Research and Medical Marijuana
Provisions on D.C. Marijuana Legalization Remain Unclear: Advocates Say Any Congressional Interference with Law that Passed with 70% Support is Outrageous

The final “must pass” federal spending bill that Congress will consider this week, also known as the “cromnibus,”and released by senior appropriators last night includes an amendment that prohibits the U.S. Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. The spending bill also includes a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the DEA from blocking implementation of a federal law passed last year by Congress that allows hemp cultivation for academic and agricultural research purposes in states that allow it.

Contact: Tony Newman (646-335-5384) or Michael Collins (404-539-6437)

UPDATE: Congress Still Negotiating D.C. Marijuana Legalization

Appears Congress May Allow D.C. Legalization Law to Stand, But Block D.C. Council From Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

Opportunity to Restore Communities Most Harmed By War on Drugs in Jeopardy

In a dramatic turn of events, media reports suggest that Congress is still negotiating whether to overturn D.C.’s historic marijuana legalization initiative. Currently, sources are reporting that Congress is considering allowing Initiative 71, approved by 70% of District residents, to stand while preventing future action on the District of Columbia’s ability to tax and regulate marijuana. These reports stand in sharp contrast to a previously reported deal that would have stopped the ballot measure from taking effect.

Contact: Tony Newman (646-335-5384) or Michael Collins (404-539-6437)

Congress Moving to Block D.C. Marijuana Legalization

Provisions in Must-Pass Spending Bill Would Overturn the Will of D.C. Voters

Civil Rights and Racial Justice Groups Send Open Letter to Democratic Leadership Encouraging Them to Stand Up for D.C. Voters

Media sources are reporting that members of Congress are negotiating provisions to a government funding bill that would block the nation’s capital in its efforts to legalize marijuana. Initiative 71 passed on Nov. 4, with 70% of voters approving the measure to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The language has been included in a must-pass funding bill that Congress will likely vote on later this week.

Contact: Tony Newman (646-335-5384) or Michael Collins (404-539-6437)

Letters to Democratic Leadership Urging Them to Stand Up for DC Voters Who Overwhelmingly Voted to Legalize Marijuana

December 9, 2014

These letters to Democratic leadership reflect a broad coalition of support within the District of Columbia for supporting the right to self-determination and democracy.  Major civil rights organizations such as the ACLU, NAACP, NARAL, and National Organization for Women have signed on in support of 70% of voters who supported legalizing marijuana in the District of Columbia.

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