Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition

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.

New Poll Finds That More Than 60 Percent of New Jersey Voters Favor Decriminalizing Marijuana and Making Possession a Civil Offense Punishable by a Fine

Solid Majority Also Now Supports Legalizing, Taxing and Regulating Marijuana for Personal Use

Overwhelming Public Support Adds Momentum to Pending Senate Bill that Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use

Trenton, NJ—An overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans support reducing the penalty for simple marijuana possession from a criminal offense to a small fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a new poll of likely voters by Lake Research Partners.  The poll was commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243

Momentum Builds for Marijuana Law Reform in the District of Columbia

ACLU Report Finds D.C. Leads All 50 States in Per Capita Marijuana Arrests and Money Wasted

Recent Poll Finds Three Out of Four D.C. Voters Want to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

D.C. Councilmembers Plan Legislation to Reduce Penalties for Possession; Nations Leading Drug Policy Reform Organization Calls for Elimination of All Penalties for Drug Possession

District of Columbia residents are arrested for marijuana possession at greater rates than residents of any U.S. state and D.C. taxpayers pay more per capita on marijuana arrests in the country, according to a groundbreaking report issued yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union that examines nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.

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

The War on Marijuana in Black and White

June 4, 2013

It's time to end the war on marijuana.

The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the war on marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and diverted resources that could be better invested in our communities.

New York State Assembly Passes Legislation To Fix Marijuana Possession Law

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.

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

Marijuana Reclassification: Removing Marijuana From the Controlled Substances Act

May 24, 2013

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."

Wednesday: Community Groups, Elected Officials Gather in Albany For Press Conference and Rally to Demand Legislators Fix Broken Marijuana Possession Law

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).

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

Poll: Three Out of Four Washington, D.C. Voters Want to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession Under District Law

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.


Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance

Morgan Fox, Marijuana Policy Project
Adam Eidinger, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: Marijuana Reform Dropped From Budget Talks As Lawmakers Plan to Leave for Vacation

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.

Contact: gabriel sayegh (646-335-2264) or Tony Newman (646-335-5484)

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