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.
Marijuana Possession, Cultivation and Distribution Charges Down a Total of 80% Since 2010
More Good News for Colorado as Marijuana Legalization Continues to Gain National Momentum
(Updated 4/24/15) *Note*: Following the publication of this report last month, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) was contacted by the Colorado Judicial Branch (CJB). The CJB notified DPA that the data CJB provided to DPA was incorrect. According to CJB’s Court Programs Analyst, the query used by CJB to compile the data “duplicated and in some cases quadrupled charge counts” for the years 2010 and 2011. Below is a revised press release with a link to the revised report, which reflects the CJB’s corrected data.
NYC Council 2015 Policy Agenda Urges State Legislature to Fix New York’s Broken Marijuana Policies
New York City Council, Advocates, and Community Groups Demand Action from Albany
New York: This week, the New York City Council called for the state of New York to pass historic legislation to both decriminalize and to tax and regulate marijuana. As part of the Council’s State Budget and Legislative Agenda for the 2015-2016 legislative session, the New York City Council urged the state legislature to pass two historic marijuana policy reforms – the Fairness and Equity Act and the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA).
DPA: Reducing Marijuana Penalties will Improve Lives, Save Taxpayer's Dollars and Significantly Reduce the Burden on Law Enforcement Resources
Santa Fe, NM - Today, New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes, representing Dona Ana County, introduced Senate Bill 383 to reduce penalties for adults who possess small amounts of marijuana. The proposed legislation reduces the penalty structure for possession of up to 4 ounces to a civil penalty with increasing fines while taking away the potential for jail time for any amount up to 8 ounces. Currently, in New Mexico, possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor crime with fines and possible jail time; over 1 ounce and up to 8 ounces of marijuana is a misde
Calling for Alternatives to Drug Testing for “Recreational” Drugs that Aren’t Performance Enhancers
The NCAA announced yesterday that it plans to re-examine its approach to drug testing student-athletes for recreational drug use. The news comes just days after two University of Oregon football players were suspended for the College Football Playoff national championship game for testing positive for marijuana.
Tuesday, January 6, 11am (MT) / 1pm (ET): Press Teleconference with Congressman Jared Polis, Governor Hickenlooper’s Office, and Leading Advocates
Report Addresses Impact of New Law on Crime Rates, Marijuana Arrests, the Economy, Safety Regulations and More
All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country’s first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale and private use of marijuana for non-medical purposes, which took effect last year. January 1, 2015, marked the one year anniversary since marijuana became available for purchase for adults 21 and older in Colorado. For over two years, the state has also allowed adults to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana.
All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country’s first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs.
National Institute on Drug Abuse’s 2014 ‘Monitoring the Future’ Survey Finds E-Cigarette Use Now Greater than Cigarette Use Among Teens
The federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse released its annual Monitoring the Future survey today. Monitoring the Future is now in its 40th year and is considered the ‘gold standard’ of teen drug use surveys. It surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade in schools nationwide about their use of alcohol, legal and illegal drugs and cigarettes.
Top Congressional Leaders Side with States on Hemp Research and Medical Marijuana
Provisions on D.C. Marijuana Legalization Remain Unclear: Advocates Say Any Congressional Interference with Law that Passed with 70% Support is Outrageous
The final “must pass” federal spending bill that Congress will consider this week, also known as the “cromnibus,”and released by senior appropriators last night includes an amendment that prohibits the U.S. Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. The spending bill also includes a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the DEA from blocking implementation of a federal law passed last year by Congress that allows hemp cultivation for academic and agricultural research purposes in states that allow it.
Panel of Councilmembers Approves Legislation that Would Establish Licensing and Regulation of Marijuana in the Nation’s Capital
Council Acts Just Weeks After Nearly 70 Percent of D.C. Voters Approved Ballot Measure Legalizing Marijuana
D.C. lawmakers voted today in favor of legislation that would legally regulate and license the production, distribution and sale of marijuana in the District of Columbia during a meeting of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which is chaired by D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large).
Advocates Cautiously Optimistic, But Key Questions and Concerns Remain
Announcement Follows Two Recent Developments: A Report Showing NYPD Is Making More Discriminatory Marijuana Possession Arrests Under de Blasio/Bratton than Bloomberg/Kelly and a Federal Court Ruling Allowing Stop and Frisk Remedies to Proceed in NYC