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

Marijuana


Are marijuana possession and use legal for medical purposes?

  • YES

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

D.C. Law to Help Prevent Overdose Deaths To Take Effect; D.C. Joins Ten States in Passing Good Samaritan Law

New Law Encourages Calling 911 in Drug Overdose Cases; Some Drug and Alcohol Law Violations Not a Crime When Help is Sought

Twice As Many Overdose Deaths in 2010 as Traffic-Related Fatalities; Nearly 900 Overdose Deaths in D.C. Since 2003

On Tuesday, March 19th, a new District of Columbia law takes effect that provides limited legal protection for those who witness or experience a drug overdose and summon medical assistance. The majority of overdose victims are in the presence of others and do not die until several hours after they have taken a drug, meaning that there is both time and opportunity to summon medical assistance.  Fear of arrest and prosecution often prevents people who are in a position to help from calling 911.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

DC Bill 19-754: Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Amendment Act of 2012

This is the text of the District of Columbia's Good Samaritan law.

Council of the District of Columbia Approves Harsh New Drug Laws Aimed at Young People

Legislation Criminalizes Possession of “K2,” “Ivory Wave” and Other Synthetic Drugs

Councilmembers Ignore Plea from D.C. Advocates to Reject Criminalization, Regulate Retailers Instead

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray Signs Legislation that Would Help Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths

Legislation Encourages Calling 911 in Drug Overdose Cases; Overdose Second Leading Cause of Accidental Death in D.C., Ahead of Traffic Accidents

D.C. Coalition of Advocates, Students, Parents and Community Providers Commends Mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council for Approving This Life Saving Legislation

Contact:  Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

Council of the District of Columbia Approves Legislation that Would Help Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths

Legislation Encourages Calling 911 in Drug Overdose Cases; Overdose Second Leading Cause of Accidental Death in D.C., Ahead of Traffic Accidents

D.C. Coalition of Advocates, Students, Parents and Community Providers Urge Mayor Vincent Gray to Sign This Life-Saving Legislation

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-669-6573

Medical Marijuana Advocates Mount Challenge to Schedule I Designation

Tues: U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Will Hear Oral Arguments

DPA Statement: Feds’ Claim of “No Medical Use” Ignores Science

On Tuesday, October 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will hear oral arguments in a case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to designate marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Schedule I is the most restrictive category for controlled substances, including those drugs defined as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

District of Columbia Judiciary Committee Considers Legislation that Would Help Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths

Legislation Encourages Calling 911 in Drug Overdose Cases; Overdose Second Leading Cause of Accidental Death in DC, Ahead of Traffic Accidents

DC Coalition of Advocates, Students, Parents and Community Providers Support Passage of This Life-Saving Legislation

Today, the Council on the District of Columbia’s Committee on the Judiciary will consider the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Amendment Act of 2012 (#B19-754), which provides limited legal protection for those who witness a drug overdose and summon medical assistance.  The hearing will be held today, June 27th at 11:00 a.m. in Committee Room 120 on the first floor of the Wilson Building.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-669-6573

Six Former Presidents, Richard Branson and Other World Leaders: Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Landmark Report Released in Advance of  2012 World AIDS Conference in Washington, DC

Global Commission Calls for Drug Decriminalization and Expansion of Proven, Cost-Effective Solutions to Reduce HIV/AIDS – Including Sterile Syringe Access, Safer Injection Facilities, and Prescription Heroin Programs

While Some Countries Have Virtually Eliminated Drug-Related HIV Transmissions, Drug War Policies in U.S., Russia, Thailand and China Cause Millions of Needless Infections and AIDS Deaths

On June 26, the Global Commission on Drug Policy will release a groundbreaking report at a press conference in London followed by a worldwide teleconference. The report describes how the global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners. It condemns the drug war as a failure and recommends immediate, major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime to halt the spread of HIV infection and other drug war harms.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Washington, DC, Announces Six Locations Medical Marijuana Will Be Grown

Announcement Comes as Obama Administration Escalates Attack on Medical Marijuana Patients and Caregivers in California, Colorado and other Medical Marijuana States

Drug Policy Alliance Commends DC Policymakers for Respecting Voters and Standing Up to Federal Government to Protect Patients, But Calls on Them to Allow Patients to Grow Their Own

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6330

Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson and DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann to Speak in Washington D.C. About Ending the Failed War on Drugs

To Be Discussed: Legalization Debate in Latin America, Portugal’s Decriminalization Experience, Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiatives in CO and WA, and the State of National Drug Policy Reform Efforts

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will join Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann to speak about the need for greater momentum and political debate to end the failed drug war this Thursday, March 15, at a forum organized by The Atlantic (600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 8th Floor) from 9:15 to 10:30am.  Steve Clemons, Editor at Large of The Atlantic, will host the session and interview Branson and Nadelmann before opening to questions from the audience and media.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

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