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.
More Than 400,000 People Arrested on Low-Level Marijuana Charges in NYC in the Past Decade; Most Are Young Blacks and Latinos, Despite Whites Using Marijuana at Higher Rates
2011 Arrests Cost Taxpayers Over $75 Million; Bloomberg Spends More Than $600 Million on Bogus Marijuana Arrests In Last Decade
NEW YORK – According to data just released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the New York City Police Department continued their marijuana arrest crusade in 2011, surpassing 2010's near-record amount of low-level marijuana arrests. In 2011, the NYPD made more than 50,680 arrests for the lowest-level marijuana possession offense, making 2011 the second-highest period for marijuana arrests in New York City history.
Voter Initiative Would Generate New Revenue, and Increase Public Safety
Denver – Denver-based activists submitted over 159,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office today, well over the 86,500 required to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the state’s Presidential ballot in November. The initiative is being spearheaded by Brian Vicente and Mason Tvert of Sensible CO and SAFER CO respectively.
Monitoring the Future Survey Finds Cigarette and Alcohol Use at Historic Lows, with Marijuana Use Holding Steady
DPA Statement: Exclusionary Focus on Use Rates Misses Forest For Trees
The federal government's National Institute on Drug Abuse released its annual Monitoring the Future survey today. Cigarette and alcohol use continued their long-term decline, reaching their lowest point since the survey began polling teenagers in 1975. Another notable finding is the inclusion of synthetic marijuana in the survey for the first time. While past-year marijuana use rates held steady at 36.4 percent among 12th graders, 11.4 percent of 12th-graders reported past-year use of synthetic marijuana.
Advocates: With Modest Drop NYC Goes From Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World to … Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World
50% of Americans Favor Ending Marijuana Prohibition
For the first time a Gallup poll has found that 50% of Americans support making marijuana legal. The poll indicates that only 46% oppose ending marijuana prohibition.
Responding to Public Pressure, Police Ordered To Not Arrest People if Marijuana Not in Plain View
Advocates Applauds New Directive, Which Could End Tens of Thousands of Illegal Arrests
NYPD Commission Ray Kelly issued an internal order this week commanding officers to follow existing New York State law by ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana – as long as the marijuana was never in public view. The order does not change the law itself – but simply instructs officers to comport with the law. This could result in tens of thousands fewer marijuana arrests annually in New York City.