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.

Friday: Community Groups, Elected Officials to Gather in Support of Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson's Plans to Stop Prosecuting Low-Level Marijuana Possession Cases

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.

Contact: gabriel sayegh (646) 335-2264 or Tony Newman (646) 335-5384

Obama Administration "Willing to Work" With Congress to Reschedule 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.

Contact:  Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

DC and NY: Mexican Legislators to Discuss Mexico's Marijuana Reform Proposals

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.

Contact: Tony Newman (646)335-5384 or Sarah Aguilar Flaschka:

The New Jim Crow: What's Next? A Talk with Michelle Alexander and DPA's asha bandele

March 6, 2014

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.

D.C. Council Passes Far-Reaching Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation

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.

Contact:   Grant Smith (202) 421-5031 or Tommy McDonald (510) 229-5215

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) Introduces Bill Allowing Drug Czar to Speak the Truth about Marijuana

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.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

D.C. Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana and End Marijuana Possession Arrests in D.C.

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.

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

Tuesday: D.C. Council Voting on Decriminalization Legislation that Would End Marijuana Possession Arrests in D.C.

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.

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Bill Piper (202) 669-6430

President Obama: Marijuana No More Dangerous Than Alcohol

Obama Calls New Laws Legalizing Marijuana in Colorado and Washington 'Important'

In an interview with the New Yorker published Sunday, President Obama spoke about his past drug use, said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol, talked about racial disparities in marijuana arrests and said the new laws legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington are ‘important.’

Excerpts from the interview by David Remnick of the New Yorker where Obama talked about drugs and the war on drugs include:

Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann (646) 335-2240

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Marijuana Has Medical Value and Marijuana Possession Arrests are Waste of Law Enforcement Time and Resources

Statement from Drug Policy Alliance: More Senators Should Follow Reid’s Lead

In an interview today with the Las Vegas Sun, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Nevada cities should move in the direction of making medical marijuana legal.

“If you’d asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer – I would have said no, because (marijuana) leads to other stuff,” the Senate majority leader told the Sun today. “But I can’t say that anymore.”

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

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