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, although whites consume marijuana at the same rate or higher. 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.

Ethan Nadelmann on CNN: Drug War Debate

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, debates the war on drugs with Kevin Sabet, former senior advisor to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), on CNN.

Colombia to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Cocaine and Marijuana for Personal Use

Colombia Part of Growing Trend in Latin America; Last Week President of Uruguay Called for Legal Regulation of Marijuana

Colombia’s Constitutional Court today approved the government’s proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cocaine and marijuana for personal use. Anyone caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana or one gram of cocaine for personal use may receive physical or psychological treatment depending on their state of consumption, but may not be prosecuted or detained, the court ruled.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

Chicago City Council Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance: Tickets Instead of Arrest for Low-Level Possession

DPA Statement: Step in Right Direction, But Devil is in the Details

The Chicago City Council passed – by a vote of 43 to 3 -- an ordinance today that will decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. People who are caught with under half an ounce of marijuana will now face fines between 250 and 500 dollars instead of being arrested.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy came out in support of the ordinance earlier this month and have talked about the need to free up police resources to fight more serious crime.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

New Jersey Assembly to Vote on Bill to Decriminalize Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana on Monday, June 25th

Advocates Say Fair and Common-Sense Legislation will Save Money and Prevent Injustice and Hardship

Trenton—On Monday, June 25th, the New Jersey General Assembly will vote on Assembly Bill 1465, which would make possession of one-half ounce, or 15 grams, of marijuana a summary offense similar to a parking ticket.  The voting session is slated to begin at 1:00 p.m.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Roseanne Scotti 609-610-8243

Senate Republicans and Conservative Party Break With Top Law Enforcement Officials to Kill Legislation Clarifying Marijuana Possession Laws; Measure Supported by Cuomo, Bloomberg, NYPD Commissioner, District Attorneys Throughout State

Over 50,000 Needless Arrests Cost Taxpayers $75 million a Year, Undermine Ability of Youth to Gain Employment; Majority Leader Skelos and Conservative Party Leader Mike Long Apparently Believe Wasteful, Unlawful, Racially Biased Arrests is "Right Message" for "Youngsters"

Operations Order by Commissioner Kelly Has Proven To Be Ineffective;
Advocates, Community Groups and Elected Officials Vow to Continue Fight for Legislation That Ensures Equity, Fairness and Fiscal Responsibility

Tony Newman, Drug Policy Alliance: 646-335-5384
Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL NY: 718-415-9254
Kyung Ji Rhee, Center For NuLeadership: 347-712-0259

New York City Council Passes Resolution, Calls on Albany to Pass Legislation Ending Racially Biased, Costly, Unlawful Marijuana Possession Arrests

More than 90% of Marijuana Possession Arrests Come from NYC

NYC Council Joins Bloomberg, Kelly, District Attorneys in Calling on Albany to Act Swiftly and Pass Legislation to Close Loopholes, Standardize Penalties and Return to Intent of 1977 Decriminalization Law

Tony Newman, Drug Policy Alliance: 646-335-5384
Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL NY: 718-415-9254
Kyung Ji Rhee, Center For NuLeadership: 347-712-0259

Advocates to Meet at One Police Plaza at 11 a.m. to Support City Council Resolution to be Voted at State Meeting Calling for End to Marijuana Arrest Crusade in NYC

Resolution Supports Legislation in Albany to Clarify Existing Marijuana Law; Advocates Continue to Pressure State Leaders to Pass Legislation to End Discriminatory, Costly, and Unlawful Arrests for Marijuana in Public View

Tony Newman, Drug Policy Alliance: 646-335-5384
Alfredo Carrasquillo, VOCAL NY: 718-415-9254
Kyung Ji Rhee, Center For NuLeadership: 347-712-0259

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