Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. These arrests fall disproportionately on blacks and Latinos, even though white people use marijuana at similar rates.
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.
The Drug Policy Alliance works to reduce the number of marijuana related arrests and associated penalties through crafting and advocating for legislation removing or reducing criminal penalties, initiatives making marijuana arrests the lowest law enforcement priority, and community based policy changes.
DPA also works to expose and reduce rampant, system-wide racial disparities in marijuana arrests. DPA has released reports documenting and detailing chilling disparities in New York City
and across California
and continues to raise awareness about the unique burden U.S. marijuana policy places on black and Latino communities
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.
Landmark Case Could Pave the Way for Marijuana Legalization
Today, in a 4 to 1 vote, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of the consumption and cultivation of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional. The Court determined that the prohibition of the consumption of marijuana – and its cultivation for non-commercial ends – violates the human right to the free development of one’s personality. This landmark case could lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if followed up with legislation.
Virginia Moving in Wrong Direction as U.S. States and Congress Reform Marijuana Laws
Black Virginians Arrested for Marijuana Possession at 3.3 Times the Rate of White Virginians, Despite Equal Rates of Marijuana Use
Report Released as Thousands Prepare to Gather Next Month in Arlington for World’s Largest Drug Policy Reform Conference
CORRECTION: Please note that a previous version of this press release contained an error that is corrected below. From 2003 to 2013 marijuana possession arrests in Virginia increased from 13,032 to 22,948, which is a 76% increase. The previous version said this represented only a 57% increase.
"Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests in Virginia (2003-2013)" reveals that marijuana possession arrests in Virginia have increased dramatically in recent years despite a nationwide trend in favor of reforming marijuana laws. Between 2003 and 2013, marijuana arrests in Virginia increased by 76%. Black Virginians have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana law enforcement despite constituting only 20% of the state's population and using marijuana at a similar rate as white Virginians.
Landmark Case Could Pave the Way for Marijuana Legalization
On Wednesday, Mexico’s Supreme Court will debate whether the prohibition of the consumption and cultivation of marijuana for personal use is unconstitutional. The Court will determine whether the prohibition of the consumption of marijuana – and its cultivation for non-commercial ends – violates the human right to the free development of one’s personality. This landmark case could lead to the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes if followed up with legislation.
Mayor’s Action Will Continue to Stretch Law Enforcement Beyond their Means
Santa Fe - Yesterday, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry vetoed legislation that would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for personal possession as well as a resolution that would have made marijuana a low priority for law enforcement.
Statement by Emily Kaltenbach:
Companion Resolution, Making Marijuana a Low Law Enforcement Priority Also Passes
Albuquerque, NM – Late last night, Albuquerque city council members voted 5-4 on party lines in favor of Ordinance 15-60 to remove criminal sanctions pertaining to possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia from the city’s municipal codes. The measure now heads to the Mayor who has the authority to veto the legislation.A companion resolution, also voted on tonight, that would make marijuana possession violations a low priority for the Albuquerque Police Department passed 6-3 with Republican Councilor Winter joining the Democrats in support.
Coalition Includes National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Capitol Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, Human Rights Watch, Drug Policy Alliance, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, and the Immigrant Defense Project
A coalition of immigrant rights and criminal justice reform advocacy organizations are calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Chief Counsel to allow green card holder Garfield Kenault Lawrence (A# 045 612 966) who was deported away from his U.S. Citizen wife and child to Jamaica, to reopen his immigration case.
Advocates Call for State and Federal Reform Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients and Legal Adult Users of Marijuana
Today the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed lower court decisions allowing employers to fire employees for marijuana use while off-duty. The decision hinged on the state’s lawful off-duty activities statute. The Court held that in order for the off-duty conduct to be considered “lawful,” it must be legal under both state and federal law. The unanimous decision was not a surprise to advocates working to reform marijuana law and policy in Colorado.
New Law Would Be Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails
Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Would Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession
The Louisiana legislature voted yesterday to reform its state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. If signed into law, it’s expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.
Amendments Would Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws; Shut Down DEA’s Controversial Bulk Collection Surveillance Programs; Cut Agency’s Budget
Amendments Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of Agency’s Head, Michele Leonhart
WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the U.S. House of Representatives considers the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill today and tomorrow, legislators could vote on at least seven amendments designed to reduce the power of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and cut its budget.