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, 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.

Regulating and Taxing Marijuana: The Fiscal Impact on NYC

August 14, 2013
New York City Comptroller John C. Liu

This groundbreaking report by the New York City Comptroller’s office estimates the value of the current illicit marijuana market in the city, and outlines a rationale and potential benefits of regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana for personal use for adults.

D.C. Councilmember Introduces Legislation to Eliminate Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession in the District of Columbia

Momentum Builds for Marijuana Law Reform Following Major ACLU Findings of Racial Disparities, Money Wasted on D.C. Marijuana Arrests

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

Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) will introduce legislation today before the Council of the District of Columbia that would eliminate criminal penalties under District law for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The legislation would subject a person in possession of one ounce or less of marijuana to a $100 civil fine. Juveniles additionally would have to complete a drug awareness program under the proposal. Failure by a juvenile to complete a drug awareness program within a year would result in the provision of a $200 fine and court-ordered community service.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Grant Smith 202-421-5031

U.S. House Passes Amendment to Protect State Rights to Grow Hemp for Research!

Bipartisan Coalition Works to Give Colleges and Universities Ability to Conduct Critical Research

WASHINGTON, DC – Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced an amendment to H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, the FARRM Bill, that would allow colleges and universities to grow and cultivate industrial hemp in states where it is already legal without fear of federal interference.  The amendment passed today by a vote of 225 to 200.

Contact: Conchita Cruz, (202) 225-2161 or Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Viewpoint: Stop and Frisk Isn’t the Problem

We’re at at again. The shooting death three weeks ago of 16-year old Kimani Gray in New York City has led to the usual street rallies decrying the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy. Hundreds attended his funeral this weekend. Yet the protests miss the forest for the trees. What we should be decrying is the War on Drugs.

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

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