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, although whites consume marijuana at the same rate or higher. 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 Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal Data Suggests

WASHINGTON — Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.
 
This disparity had grown steadily from a decade before, and in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were around eight times as likely to be arrested.
 

Elected Officials, Impacted People and Advocacy Groups Joined to Call on Albany Leadership to Put Marijuana Arrest Reform Bill on Senate Floor for Vote

Legislation Will Save State Tens of Millions of Dollars Per Year, Bring Fairness and Equity to Broken Marijuana Law, and Prevent Tens of Thousands of Illegal Arrests This Year

New ACLU Report Finds That Marijuana Arrests Cost Taxpayers Over $675 Million Per Year; Arrests Lead to Egregious Racial Disparities in All NY Counties

NYC: Today, New York elected officials called on Senate leaders to put to a vote a bill that will end the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession. They were joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people to urge passage before the legislative session ends next week. The proposal outlined in Gov. Cuomo’s 2013 State of the State Address would decriminalize possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana in public view, while smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor.

Contact: gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264 or Jeremy Saunders 917-676-8041

Friday: Elected Officials, Impacted People and Advocacy Groups Join to Call on Albany Leadership to Put Marijuana Arrest Reform Bill on Senate Floor for Vote

Legislation to Save State Tens of Millions of Dollars Per Year, Bring Fairness and Equity to Broken Marijuana Law Passed Assembly Two Weeks Ago; Senate Must Act Before End of Session to Prevent Tens of Thousands of Illegal Arrests This Year

New ACLU Report Finds That Marijuana Arrests Cost Taxpayers Over $675 Million Per Year; Arrests Lead to Egregious Racial Disparities in All NY Counties

NYC: On Friday, June 14th, New York City elected officials will call on Senate leaders to put to a vote a bill that will end the biased and costly practices of falsely arresting tens of thousands of people in New York for low-level marijuana possession. They will be joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people to urge passage before the legislative session ends next week. The proposal, outlined in Gov. Cuomo’s 2013 State of the State Address, would decriminalize possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana in public view, but smoking in public would remain a misdemeanor.

Contact: gabriel sayegh 646-335-2264 or Jeremy Saunders  917-676-8041

New Poll Finds That More Than 60 Percent of New Jersey Voters Favor Decriminalizing Marijuana and Making Possession a Civil Offense Punishable by a Fine

Solid Majority Also Now Supports Legalizing, Taxing and Regulating Marijuana for Personal Use

Overwhelming Public Support Adds Momentum to Pending Senate Bill that Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use

Trenton, NJ—An overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans support reducing the penalty for simple marijuana possession from a criminal offense to a small fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a new poll of likely voters by Lake Research Partners.  The poll was commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243

Momentum Builds for Marijuana Law Reform in the District of Columbia

ACLU Report Finds D.C. Leads All 50 States in Per Capita Marijuana Arrests and Money Wasted

Recent Poll Finds Three Out of Four D.C. Voters Want to Remove Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

D.C. Councilmembers Plan Legislation to Reduce Penalties for Possession; Nations Leading Drug Policy Reform Organization Calls for Elimination of All Penalties for Drug Possession

District of Columbia residents are arrested for marijuana possession at greater rates than residents of any U.S. state and D.C. taxpayers pay more per capita on marijuana arrests in the country, according to a groundbreaking report issued yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union that examines nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

The War on Marijuana in Black and White

June 4, 2013
ACLU

It's time to end the war on marijuana.

The aggressive enforcement of marijuana possession laws needlessly ensnares hundreds of thousands of people into the criminal justice system and wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars. What’s more, it is carried out with staggering racial bias. Despite being a priority for police departments nationwide, the war on marijuana has failed to reduce marijuana use and availability and diverted resources that could be better invested in our communities.

New York State Assembly Passes Legislation To Fix Marijuana Possession Law

New Poll Shows Strong Majority of New Yorkers Support Reform; Assemblymembers,  Advocates, and Community Members Call On Senate to Act

In Last Decade, Police Spent 1 Million Hours Arresting Nearly 500,000 People for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana, Costing Taxpayers $600 Million

ALBANY:  Today, the New York State Assembly passed the marijuana arrest reform bill (A.6716-A) that could end the state’s racially biased, costly and unlawful marijuana arrest crusade. The legislation fixes New York’s 1977 marijuana decriminalization law by making possession of small amounts marijuana in public view a violation punishable by a fine, instead of a criminal arrest.  The bill now heads to the Senate, where a similar measure has been sponsored by Sen. Daniel Squadron.

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

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