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.
New Poll Shows Strong Majority of New Yorkers Support Reform; Assemblymembers, Advocates, and Community Members Call On Senate to Act
In Last Decade, Police Spent 1 Million Hours Arresting Nearly 500,000 People for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana, Costing Taxpayers $600 Million
ALBANY: Today, the New York State Assembly passed the marijuana arrest reform bill (A.6716-A) that could end the state’s racially biased, costly and unlawful marijuana arrest crusade. The legislation fixes New York’s 1977 marijuana decriminalization law by making possession of small amounts marijuana in public view a violation punishable by a fine, instead of a criminal arrest. The bill now heads to the Senate, where a similar measure has been sponsored by Sen. Daniel Squadron.
The current system for classifying illegal (and most legal) drugs is flawed, outdated and unscientific. Marijuana should be reclassified in order to facilitate research, ensure patient access, and permit its legal regulation. Established by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970, this system erroneously places marijuana in the most restrictive class, Schedule I, reserved for drugs with a "high potential for abuse”, "no currently accepted medical use" and a “lack of accepted safety."
New Poll: At Least 60% of All Voters Continue to Call for Fixing Marijuana Possession Laws, Including Half of Republicans; Poll is Third This Year Showing Strong Majority Support For Reform
Thousands More New Yorkers Have Been Arrested – at Cost of Estimated $7.5 Million – for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana Since April 1 When Reform Talks Failed During Budget Negotiation
Albany: On Wednesday, May 22nd, members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus will gather with commuity groups to demand an end to the biased and costly practice of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession every year. Dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state will join them at a press conference and rally to urge passage of sensible marijuana decriminalization legislation, A.6716A (Camara)/S.3105A (Squadron).
Nearly two-thirds would support a ballot measure to make marijuana legal for adults and establish a system in which it is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol
Statements below from the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the sponsor of the poll
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three out of four Washington, D.C. voters would support changing District law to replace criminal penalties for possession of limited amounts of marijuana with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a survey conducted last week by Public Policy Polling. Two-thirds (67%) said they believe law enforcement resources currently being used by District police to arrest individuals for marijuana possession should be directed toward other crimes.
Each Week of Delay Results in 1,000 More Arrests, Costing Taxpayers Nearly $1.5 Million and More Than 2,000 Police Hours
Community Groups Join NY State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus to Demand Action From Albany Leadership
New York: State legislators are set to go on vacation next week without fixing the racially biased, wasteful and egregious marijuana possession law in New York. Yesterday, the governor and leaders in the Assembly and Senate announced a final deal on the state budget, and today announced that they would punt on marijuana law reform, declaring that after weeks of negotiations, they couldn’t agree on a simple proposal.
Report Documents Huge Waste of Police Resources in NYC, “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World”; Majority of Those Arrested Are Black and Latino Youth
Report Released As State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Makes Final Push to Pass Marijuana Reform Proposal This Week
NEW YORK: A new report released today documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years.
A new report documents the astronomical number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure from 2002 to 2012. The report finds that NYPD used approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests. Under Mayor Bloomberg, New York City has made more marijuana possession arrests than under mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined.
This report commissioned by the National Association of Social Workers calls for a public health approach to drug use and outlines the role social workers can play in shifting the current paradigm.