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.
Marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. war on drugs. In 2014, there were 700,993 marijuana arrests in the U.S. – roughly 45 percent of all drug arrests. The overwhelming majority (88 percent) of these arrests were for simple possession, not sale or manufacture. Black and Latino people are arrested at vastly disproportionate rates, even though white people use and sell marijuana at similar rates. A marijuana arrest is no small matter – the arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks.
WOLA, Washington Office on Latin America
In Uruguay, the consumption of drugs, including marijuana, is not punishable with prison time. Even so, the cultivation of marijuana for personal consumption is a crime. When she was 66 years old, Alicia Castilla was put in jail for three months for cultivating marijuana, for her research and for her own personal consumption (to sleep better). In this video testimony, she talks about the suffering caused by her imprisonment in Canelones (an Uruguayan prison) and her experience with the justice system in Uruguay.
Belize Announcement on Heels of Uruguayan President's Proposal to Legalize and Sell Marijuana
Statement from DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann: Alternatives to Prohibition Growing Trend in Latin America and Caribbean
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, debates the war on drugs with Kevin Sabet, former senior advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), on CNN.
Colombia Part of Growing Trend in Latin America; Last Week President of Uruguay Called for Legal Regulation of Marijuana
Colombia’s Constitutional Court today approved the government’s proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cocaine and marijuana for personal use. Anyone caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana or one gram of cocaine for personal use may receive physical or psychological treatment depending on their state of consumption, but may not be prosecuted or detained, the court ruled.
DPA Statement: Step in Right Direction, But Devil is in the Details
The Chicago City Council passed – by a vote of 43 to 3 -- an ordinance today that will decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. People who are caught with under half an ounce of marijuana will now face fines between 250 and 500 dollars instead of being arrested.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy came out in support of the ordinance earlier this month and have talked about the need to free up police resources to fight more serious crime.
Advocates Say Fair and Common-Sense Legislation will Save Money and Prevent Injustice and Hardship
Trenton—On Monday, June 25th, the New Jersey General Assembly will vote on Assembly Bill 1465, which would make possession of one-half ounce, or 15 grams, of marijuana a summary offense similar to a parking ticket. The voting session is slated to begin at 1:00 p.m.