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.

Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

June 2, 2011
Global Commission on Drug Policy

The Global Commission, whose members include Kofi Annan and four former presidents, calls the drug war a failure and advocates a paradigm shift in global drug policy. The commission's bold recommendations include encouraging governments to experiment with legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana; putting an end to drug policies being driven by ideology and politics; and directing resources away from arresting and incarcerating so many people for drug law violations.

Tell Albany: Stop False Charges and Illegal Searches

Tell NY legislators to end inappropriate and wasteful arrests for marijuana.

New Yorkers Rally Outside Mayor Bloomberg's House Calling for End to Costly, Biased Marijuana Arrest Crusade

Council Members Join Community Leaders, Deliver Mock Proclamation to Bloomberg for Making NYC the "Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World"

Blacks and Latinos Comprise 86% of Arrests Even though White Youth More Likely to Use Marijuana; Most Arrests Are the Result of Illegal Searches, Cost NY Taxpayers $75 Million A Year

New York, NY – Mayor Bloomberg's Upper East Side house was surrounded by City Council Members and fifty community members this morning demanding an end to illegal marijuana arrests, which have led to staggering racial disparities and significant financial cost to the City. Carrying signs highlighting the racial disparities, fiscal waste and constitutional violations associated with these arrests, the community members were joined by City Council Members Letitia James, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Sean Barry 646-373-3344

Wednesday May 25, 10 a.m.: New Yorkers to Hold Rally Outside Mayor Bloomberg's House

City Council Members Join Community Leaders to Deliver Mock Proclamation to Bloomberg for Making NYC the "Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World"

Blacks and Latinos Comprise 86% of Arrests Even though White Youth More Likely to Use Marijuana; Most Arrests Are the Result of Illegal Searches, Cost NY Taxpayers $75 Million A Year

New York, NY – Community leaders and City Council members will gather tomorrow at Mayor Bloomberg's Upper East Side house to call for an end to the Mayor's costly, biased marijuana arrest crusade. The arrests are largely the result of illegal searches, have led to staggering racial disparities, and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.

What: Bloomberg for making NYC #1 in Marijuana Arrests: Racial Bias, Illegal Searches, Fiscal Waste

When: Wednesday May 25, 2011 – 10 a.m.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Sean Barry 646-373-3344

New Issue Brief by Ira Glasser, Former Head of ACLU, Outlines Constitutional Standards for Stop-and-Frisk

Most of NYPD’s 100,000's of Frisks Are Illegal; Marijuana Possession Arrests in New York Skyrocket Because of Unlawful Searches

Illegal Searches by the NYPD Contribute to 50,000 Marijuana Arrests in NYC in 2010; 86 percent of Those Arrested are Blacks and Latinos

In New York City, there is increased media attention and public debate about both marijuana possession arrests and the New York City Police Department practice of "stop-and-frisk." As the number of stops and frisks have increased dramatically, so too have the arrests for marijuana possession. Despite the fact that marijuana possession was decriminalized in New York in 1977, marijuana possession is now the number one arrest in New York City. More than 50,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2010 alone, comprising one out of every seven arrests (15 percent).

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

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