Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition

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, 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.

Thursday: Far-Reaching Marijuana Decriminalization Law Takes Effect in the Nation's Capital

Persons Caught With Up to One Ounce of Marijuana Will Be Fined $25 by D.C. Police Officers

House Republicans Want to Overturn Law While White House Defends It

Washington, D.C. – A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law takes effect in the District of Columbia Thursday that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, ending a year-long effort in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers. The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” takes effect tomorrow despite an ongoing Republican-led effort in Congress to block D.C. officials from implementing the law.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Dr. Malik Burnett (202) 683-2983

Marijuana Arrests: The Gateway to Mass Incarceration

July 18, 2014
Netroots Nation

Every 48 seconds someone is arrested for marijuana possession in the United States. Most of these arrests are of people of color, despite the fact that white people use and sell marijuana at higher rates.

White House Opposes Republican Amendment Undermining D.C. Marijuana Law Reform

Calls Marijuana Reform a States’ Rights & Home Rule Issue

D.C. Council Passes Resolution Condemning Congressional Interference

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

Major Progressive Coalition of Elected Officials, Labor and Community Groups Announce New Statewide Legislation to Address Unlawful, Racist Marijuana Arrests

Fairness and Equity Act Will Fix NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law, Reduce Racial Disparities and Inequities, Alleviate Collateral Consequences, and Promote Fairness in Justice System

Despite Dramatic Drop in Stop and Frisk, NYPD on Track to Arrest as many people in 2014 as Previous Year, Racial Disparities Persist

NEW YORK: Today, dozens of elected officials, labor leaders, community members and legal experts rallied on the steps of City Hall introduce the Fairness and Equity Act -- comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences in New York.  The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Karim Camara and Senator Daniel Squadron, builds upon previous attempts to fix New York’s broken decriminalization law and seeks to advance fairness and equity within the justice system.

Contact: gabriel sayegh (646) 335-2264 or Tony Newman (646) 335-5384

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson Announces First-in-the-Country Plan to Stop Prosecuting Most People for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana

Announcement Comes as Elected Officials and Community Groups to Prepare to Hold Press Conference to Release New Legislation to Address the Marijuana Arrest Crusade in NY

Albany – Today, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced the implementation of his policy to end the prosecution of most low-level marijuana possession cases.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264

Wednesday: Elected Officials, Community Groups, Announce New Statewide Legislation to End Unlawful, Racist Marijuana Arrests

Comprehensive Legislation would also Address Racial bias, Collateral Consequences, and Fix Loopholes in NY Marijuana Laws

Despite Dramatic Drop in Stop and Frisk, NYPD on Track to Arrest as many people in 2014 as Previous Year, Racial Disparities Persist

NEW YORK: On Wednesday, July 9th at 11am, elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, will rally on the Steps of City Hall to call for comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences.

What: Press Conference to introduce the Fairness and Equity Act -- a comprehensive reform to fix New York’s broken decriminalization law and address collateral consequences

When: Wednesday, July 9th 11am

Republicans Vote to Block Washington, D.C.'s New Marijuana Decriminalization Law

Fight Over Amendment Expected to Move Next to House Floor

Amendment Takes Effect Long After D.C. Marijuana Law Takes Effect, Meaning It May Only Prevent the City from Issuing $25 Fines for Marijuana Possession, Creating De Facto Legalization

Washington, D.C. – This morning the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) prohibiting the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana. The amendment is directed at a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine.

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

Tomorrow: Republicans in Congress May Seek to Block Washington, D.C. from Reforming Its Marijuana Laws

Congressional Interference Comes After D.C. Lawmakers Decriminalize Marijuana to Ease Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Washington, D.C. – Republicans may offer an amendment to a federal appropriations bill tomorrow morning that would prevent the District of Columbia from implementing the marijuana decriminalization law recently passed by the D.C. City Council and signed into law by the mayor in March. The amendment would prohibit spending federal funds or even its locally raised funds to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana.
 

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

Jamaica Poised to Decriminalize Marijuana Possession, Approve Medical and Religious Use, and Expunge Past Offenses

Marijuana Reform Gaining Unprecedented Global Momentum

On Friday, Jamaican Minister of Justice Mark Golding released a statement announcing government support for a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the decriminalization of marijuana use for religious, scientific and medical purposes.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

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