Wasted Tax Dollars

Over the past four decades, federal and state governments have poured over $1 trillion into drug war spending and relied on taxpayers to foot the bill. Unfortunately, these tax dollars have gone to waste. In 1980, the United States had 50,000 people behind bars for drug law violations – now we have more than half a million. The U.S. is now the world’s largest jailer, drugs remain widely available and treatment resources are scarce. Not only have billions of tax dollars been wasted, but drug war spending has also resulted in the defunding of other important services. Money funneled into drug enforcement has meant less funding for more serious crime and has left essential education, health, social service and public safety programs struggling to operate on meager funding. The Drug Policy Alliance is working to shift funding away from the same old failed policies and toward effective drug treatment and education programs. We are leading the movement to end prohibition’s drain on our economy and to protect your tax dollars from wasteful drug war spending.

Learn more about our priorities for fiscal responsibility.

President Obama Grants Clemency to 46 People, Will Make Big Push for Criminal Justice Reform This Week

Obama to Address Mass Incarceration at NAACP Convention Tomorrow and Become First President to Visit a Prison on Thursday

Drug Policy Alliance: We Can’t End Mass Incarceration Until We End Drug War

Today, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 people incarcerated in federal prison. This follows the commutation of eight people incarcerated in federal prison for drug offenses in December of 2014, and 22 in March 2015. Fourteen of the people who received commutations today were serving life in prison for nonviolent drug offenses.  


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Michael Collins 404-539-6437

Congress Votes to End DEA's Invasive Bulk Data Collection Program and Slashes Agency's Budget

Four Votes Today on Stopping DEA and Justice Department from Undermining State Marijuana Laws
Votes Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of DEA Head and Growing Public Pressure to End Drug War and Mass Incarceration

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislators voted by a simple voice vote last night to end the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection programs, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. The House also passed three amendments that cut $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses. 


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Bill Piper 202-669-6430

DEA Administrator Chief Michele Leonhart Expected to Resign

Resignation Comes as DEA at Center of Series of Scandals in its Effort to Continue Failed War on Drugs

After Decades of Mass Incarceration, Racial Disparities, and Failed Drug Policies, DEA Finally Facing Scrutiny

New DPA Issue Brief Released Today: The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know

A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, is expected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration. 


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Bill Piper 202-669-6430

The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know

April 21, 2015

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other drug war problems.

Above the Law: Groundbreaking New DPA Report Finds Extensive Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses by Numerous California Law Enforcement Agencies

Tuesday Teleconference Featuring California State Senator Holly Mitchell, Author of New California Bill to Rein in Forfeiture Abuses

With Bipartisan Support in U.S. Congress and Buoyed By New Mexico’s First-of-Its-Kind Law That Ends Civil Forfeiture, Momentum Accelerates for Reform

Tomorrow, the Drug Policy Alliance launches Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California, a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture in California

April 21, 2015

Above the Law: An Investigation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Abuses in California is a multi-year, comprehensive look at asset forfeiture abuses in California that reveals the troubling extent to which law enforcement agencies have violated state and federal law.  Civil asset forfeiture law allows the government to seize and keep cash, cars, real estate, and any other property – even from citizens never charged with or convicted of a crime.  Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have led to a perversion of police

Marijuana Legalization in Colorado: One-Year Status Report

January 5, 2015

All eyes are on Colorado to gauge the impact of the country’s first-ever state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older. Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1, 2014, the state has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs.

Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies That Work

September 8, 2014
Global Commission on Drug Policy

This report reflects a new evolution in the thinking of the Global Commission, which includes Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, and the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. They not only reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches – but now also call for responsible legal regulation of currently-illegal drugs.

First Quarter Marijuana Possession Arrest Data Released: NYPD On Path to Make As Many Marijuana Arrests in 2014 as in Previous Year

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. 


Tony Newman: 646-335-5384
gabriel sayegh: 646-335-2264

Riverside County School Districts Letter

March 17, 2014

To highlight the atrocities that have gone on in Riverside County high schools and hopefully prevent future ones, the Drug Policy Alliance sent this letter to 20 school district superintendents in Riverside County urging them not to allow undercover law enforcement operations on their campuses.  Such operations are ineffective at combating drug availability on campus and worse, they inflict irreparable harm on young people struggling with the challenges of adolescence or special needs.  The letter also informed schools about the potential legal liability for allowing such operatio

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