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.
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.
The Drug Policy Alliance aims to reduce the number, racially disproportionate nature, and potential collateral consequences of marijuana arrests, as well as other harms resulting from marijuana prohibition.
Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans Disproportionately Arrested; 25 Years of Arrests in WA Cost $300 Million or More
Washington Voters to Decide on Making Marijuana Legal With November Vote
With just three weeks remaining before Washington voters decide whether to make marijuana possession legal in their state, a new report -- "240,000 Marijuana Arrests: Costs, Consequences, and Racial Disparities of Possession Arrests in Washington" -- reveals that nearly a quarter of a million people have been arrested in Washington for marijuana possession since 1986. Police made more than half of those marijuana arrests in just the last 10 years.
Decriminalization of marijuana possession is a necessary first step toward a more comprehensive reform of the drug prohibition regime. However decriminalization alone does not address many of the greatest harms of prohibition – such as high levels of crime, corruption and violence, massive illicit markets and the harmful health consequences of drugs produced in the absence of regulatory oversight.
WOLA, Washington Office on Latin America
In Uruguay, the consumption of drugs, including marijuana, is not punishable with prison time. Even so, the cultivation of marijuana for personal consumption is a crime. When she was 66 years old, Alicia Castilla was put in jail for three months for cultivating marijuana, for her research and for her own personal consumption (to sleep better). In this video testimony, she talks about the suffering caused by her imprisonment in Canelones (an Uruguayan prison) and her experience with the justice system in Uruguay.
Belize Announcement on Heels of Uruguayan President's Proposal to Legalize and Sell Marijuana
Statement from DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann: Alternatives to Prohibition Growing Trend in Latin America and Caribbean
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, debates the war on drugs with Kevin Sabet, former senior advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), on CNN.