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 Data Released: NYPD Made More Marijuana Possession Arrests in 2011 than in 2010; Illegal Searches and Manufactured Misdemeanors Continue Despite Order by Commissioner Kelly to Halt Unlawful Arrests

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.

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

Proponents Submit 159,000 Signatures to Put Marijuana Legalization on November Ballot in Colorado

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.

Art Way (720) 288-6924

Tommy McDonald (510) 338-8827

National Institute on Drug Abuse Releases 2011 Teen Drug Use Survey

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.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

Marijuana Arrests Drop Only 13% Since NYPD Commissioner Tells Officers to Stop Arresting People for Marijuana Not in Plain View

Advocates: With Modest Drop NYC Goes From Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World to … Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World

Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Gallup Poll: Support for Legalizing Marijuana Reaches Historic Threshold

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.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384

NYPD Commissioner Calls on NYPD to Stop Improper Marijuana Arrests

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.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Kyung Ji Rhee 347-712-0259 or Jeremy Saunders 917-676-8041

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