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.
Extreme Racial Disparities Persist: 86% of arrests are young Black and Latino Men, Even Though Young White Men Use Marijuana At Higher Rates
Analysis: Significant Drop in Stop-and-Frisk Does Not End Marijuana Possession Arrests; Advocates Call for Focused Plan to End Biased Arrests
NEW YORK: Today the Marijuana Arrest Research Project released data showing that racially bias marijuana arrests continue to be one of the leading arrests in New York City, despite the precipitous drop in stop and frisks.
Historic Step Will Reduce Both Racial Disparities and the Number of Brooklynites Unfairly Saddled with Lifelong Arrest Records
Advocates, Community Groups Applaud DA Thompson for His Leadership and Demand Action by City Hall and Albany
NEW YORK: Today, Brooklyn elected officials, community groups, and advocates rallied on the steps of Borough Hall to support District Attorney Ken Thompson’s proposal to stop prosecuting people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Game-Changing Proposal Will Dramatically Reduce the Number of People in Brooklyn Unfairly Saddled with Lifelong Criminal Records
Advocates, Community Groups Applaud DA Thompson for His Leadership and Demand Reform at City Hall and in Albany
NEW YORK: On Friday, April 25th at 11am, elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, will rally on the steps of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall to applaud DA Ken Thompson’s proposal to stop prosecuting people arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
Drug Policy Alliance: Rescheduling Is Small Step In Right Direction, But Wouldn’t Protect People From Being Arrested or Punished for Marijuana Possession
DPA Supports De-Scheduling Marijuana and Legally Regulating It
Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.
Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research into marijuana's medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.
Marijuana Decriminalization and Medical Marijuana Legislation Recently Introduced
Unprecedented Momentum for Drug Policy Reform Continues to Spread Throughout Latin America
This week, legislators from the Mexican Congress and the Mexico City Assembly will be in DC and NY to discuss the bills they introduced to decriminalize the consumption and purchase of marijuana for personal use in Mexico City and to legalize medical marijuana countrywide.
In the first installment of a new series of discussions presented by the Drug Policy Alliance’s Movement Building Team, DPA’s asha bandele interviewed Michelle Alexander, the best-selling author of The New Jim Crow. Over 300 people listened in on their conversation which touched on familiar issues – the decriminalization of all drugs, ending mass incarceration – but also delved deeper, allowing Alexander to discuss what truly transformational change means to her, and more personally, what she would like to do next in her own work.
Legislation Ends Marijuana Possession Arrests in D.C.; Bill Goes to Mayor Vincent Gray for Signature
Advocates Cheer Passage of Legislation that Will Reduce Enormous Racial Disparities Perpetuated by Marijuana Prohibition
In a vote today of 10-1, the D.C. Council approved legislation that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in the nation’s capital and treat possession as a civil offense. The legislation goes next to District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray who has expressed support for decriminalization.
Under Current Law Drug Czar Must Oppose Legalization of Marijuana, Even for Medical Use, No Matter What the Science Shows or What the American People Support
Cohen Bill Would Allow Drug Czar to Take Same Positions on Marijuana Policy as President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder
WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) has introduced The Unmuzzle the Drug Czar Act of 2014 (H.R. 4046). The bill would repeal a little know provision of federal law that requires the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), informally known as the U.S. Drug Czar, to “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use” of marijuana or any Schedule I drug for medical or non-medical use. The provision even prohibits ONDCP from studying legalization.
Bill Would Reduce Enormous Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System
Last-Minute Amendments Weaken Bill; Advocates Warn That “Public Consumption” Provision Will Perpetuate Unfair and Costly Arrests
The D.C. Council took a major step to decriminalizing marijuana in the nation’s capital today by voting 11-1 in favor of a bill that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession as a civil offense. The D.C. Council takes a final vote on the bill in early March; it is expected to pass and to be signed into law by the mayor. It is viewed by both council members and advocates as a model for other jurisdictions looking to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Decriminalization Supported by Most Councilmembers and Has Enormous Public Support; Bill Would Reduce Enormous Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System
Advocates Urge Lawmakers to Pass Bill As-Is and Reject Amendments Weakening the Bill
Washington, D.C. lawmakers are expected to vote Tuesday on legislation approved in January by the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety that would eliminate criminal penalties for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and treat possession and public consumption as civil offenses. Since its introduction in July 2013 by Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), the legislation has received overwhelming public support.