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.

Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to Reform Draconian Marijuana Possession Law

Law Would Allow Second Chance for First-Time Offenders and Save Millions of Dollars

Bill Heads to Full Senate

Lawmakers in Louisiana took a major step toward reforming the state’s harsh marijuana possession law when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill to reform the state’s harsh marijuana possession law. If passed, Louisiana would join the growing number of states that have recently reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Yolande Cardore 646-508-1790

de Blasio Administration To Make Substantial Reforms to Non-Criminal Summons System in NYC

Common Sense Changes Will Make Summons System Easier to Navigate and More Transparent, and Will Allow City to Track and Address Racial Disparities

Changes Announced After Months of Negotiations with Community and Advocacy Groups

New York — Today the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) announced plans to revise parts of the NYC Summons process. The announcement comes after advocates voiced key questions and concerns about Mayor de Blasio’s announcement last November that individuals would receive summonses instead of being arrested for low level marijuana possession in public view.


Kassandra Frederique (646) 209-0374
Alyssa Aguilera (917) 200-1446

Marijuana Arrests in Colorado After the Passage of Amendment 64

March 25, 2015

This report provides comprehensive data on marijuana charges and arrests in Colorado before and after the passage of Amendment 64 in 2012. The report compiles and analyzes data from the county judicial districts, as well as various law enforcement agencies via the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The report finds that marijuana arrests have drastically plummeted in Colorado following the passage of Amendment 64.

New Report Provides Comprehensive Data on Marijuana Arrests and Charges in Colorado After Legal Regulation for Adult Use

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.


Art Way, 720-579-1265
Tony Newman, 646-335-5384

New York City Council Issues Formal Call for Decriminalizing and Legalizing Marijuana

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).


Kassandra Frederique (646) 209-0374
Alyssa Aguilera (917) 200-1446

New Mexico State Senator Joseph Cervantes Introduces Bill to Reduce Penalties for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

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

Contact: Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

NCAA to Re-Examine Drug Testing Policy

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.

Contact: Tony Newman, 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: One-Year Status Report

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.

Contact: Tony Newman, 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: One-Year Status Report

January 5, 2015


Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado 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.

Key Facts

Teen Marijuana Use Declines As Country Moves Toward Marijuana Legalization

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.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Jerry Otero 718-664-7420

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