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.
Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans Disproportionately Arrested; 25 Years of Arrests in WA Cost $300 Million or More
Washington Voters to Decide on Making Marijuana Legal With November Vote
With just three weeks remaining before Washington voters decide whether to make marijuana possession legal in their state, a new report -- "240,000 Marijuana Arrests: Costs, Consequences, and Racial Disparities of Possession Arrests in Washington" -- reveals that nearly a quarter of a million people have been arrested in Washington for marijuana possession since 1986. Police made more than half of those marijuana arrests in just the last 10 years.
Decriminalization of marijuana possession is a necessary first step toward a more comprehensive reform of the drug prohibition regime. However decriminalization alone does not address many of the greatest harms of prohibition – such as high levels of crime, corruption and violence, massive illicit markets and the harmful health consequences of drugs produced in the absence of regulatory oversight.
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.