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.
These are ten top facts about marijuana policy and effects, with detailed supporting information and citations.
Today is Day One for Far-Reaching Decriminalization Law in the Nation’s Capital
Persons Caught With Up to One Ounce of Marijuana in D.C. Are Fined $25 by D.C. Police Officers
Washington, D.C. – A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law took effect in the District of Columbia today that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. However, advocates emphasize that there is still more work to be done in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers.
On Thursday, July 17, 2014, the “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (D.C. Act 20-305)” took effect in the District of Columbia, and makes possession of marijuana punishable by a $25 fine instead of jail time. This new law is expected to enhance civil rights in the District of Columbia by reducing racial disparities in arrest rates for marijuana possession.
Historic Vote Falls on Heels of Votes in May to Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws
Meanwhile Conflict Over Washington, DC Decrim Law and Legalization Ballot Measure Increases
In a historic vote today the U.S. House passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Heck (D-WA), Perlmutter (D-CO), Lee (D-CA) and Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192.
In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws and passed two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.
Persons Caught With Up to One Ounce of Marijuana Will Be Fined $25 by D.C. Police Officers
House Republicans Want to Overturn Law While White House Defends It
Washington, D.C. – A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law takes effect in the District of Columbia Thursday that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, ending a year-long effort in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers. The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” takes effect tomorrow despite an ongoing Republican-led effort in Congress to block D.C. officials from implementing the law.
Every 48 seconds someone is arrested for marijuana possession in the United States. Most of these arrests are of people of color, despite the fact that white people use and sell marijuana at higher rates.
Calls Marijuana Reform a States’ Rights & Home Rule Issue
D.C. Council Passes Resolution Condemning Congressional Interference
Fairness and Equity Act Will Fix NY Marijuana Decriminalization Law, Reduce Racial Disparities and Inequities, Alleviate Collateral Consequences, and Promote Fairness in Justice System
Despite Dramatic Drop in Stop and Frisk, NYPD on Track to Arrest as many people in 2014 as Previous Year, Racial Disparities Persist
NEW YORK: Today, dozens of elected officials, labor leaders, community members and legal experts rallied on the steps of City Hall introduce the Fairness and Equity Act -- comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences in New York. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymember Karim Camara and Senator Daniel Squadron, builds upon previous attempts to fix New York’s broken decriminalization law and seeks to advance fairness and equity within the justice system.
Announcement Comes as Elected Officials and Community Groups to Prepare to Hold Press Conference to Release New Legislation to Address the Marijuana Arrest Crusade in NY
Albany – Today, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced the implementation of his policy to end the prosecution of most low-level marijuana possession cases.