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.

Kamala Harris and Rand Paul Spearhead Senate Bail Reform Effort

Bill Provides Grants to States to Replace Money Bail System

Proposal Builds on Successful Reform in New Jersey

Today, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced legislation to reform the country’s money bail system. The proposal – the first of its kind in the U.S. Senate – would provide grants to states to reform their bail system.


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

New Drug Policy Alliance Report: It's Time for the U.S. to Decriminalize Drug Use and Possession

Tuesday Teleconference at 1pm (ET): ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Movement for Black Lives, and LatinoJustice Join DPA to Call for Decriminalization

Supporters of Decriminalization Include the United Nations, World Health Organization, International Red Cross, Organization of American States, NAACP, National Latino Congreso, and American Public Health Association

Defying Retrograde Federal Administration, U.S. States & Localities Are Taking Lead Unraveling Drug War and Implementing Health-Based Drug Policies


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Jag Davies 212-613-8035

White House Budget Proposes More Funding for Law Enforcement Than Treatment

Trump Also Reverses Plan to Slash Funding for Drug Czar’s Office

Advocates: White House Budget Further Confirmation that Trump Administration Escalating the War on Drugs

President Trump’s FY 2018 budget, released today, proposes to boost funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement while proposing dramatic cuts to Medicaid that has extended access to opioid treatment for millions of people impacted by the opioid crisis, as well as cuts to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the federal agency chiefly responsible for administering federal treatment grants.


Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Grant Smith 202-669-6573 

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 (English/Spanish)

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


Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado 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.

Key Facts

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