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.
Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance speaks about the historic breakthrough in the struggle to end marijuana prohibition.
Drug Policy Alliance: Era of Robust State-Based Regulation Has Begun
Majority of Americans Now Support Legalizing and Regulating Marijuana like Alcohol
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a first-ever Senate hearing on the issue of marijuana legalization and the tension between state and federal marijuana laws.
Historic Breakthrough in Struggle to End Marijuana Prohibition
Attorney General Eric Holder informed the governors of Washington and Colorado today that the Department of Justice will allow the states to implement their ballot initiatives that legalized the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana for adults. Deputy Attorney General James Cole also issued a memo to U.S. attorneys across the country outlining priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws.
The directive will also apply to the 20 states that have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy AG James Cole Invited to Testify
Statement from Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced Monday that he will address discrepancies between federal and state marijuana laws in an upcoming hearing on September 10. Leahy has invited Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify. Twenty states now allow medical marijuana, and Colorado and Washington recently became the first two states to approve the legal regulation of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes.
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.
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.
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.
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.