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.
DPA’s specific recommendations are to increase the Byrne Grant funding for substance use treatment, reduce funding for activities that arrest people for low-level drug offenses, and to eliminate the funding for marijuana suppression activities. Historically, Byrne Grants have been used primarily to finance drug task forces, which have a record of racially disproportionate low-level drug arrests and increased local and state costs with no measurable impact on public safety.
A new report documents the astronomical number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure from 2002 to 2012. The report finds that NYPD used approximately one million hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests. Under Mayor Bloomberg, New York City has made more marijuana possession arrests than under mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani combined.
This report commissioned by the National Association of Social Workers calls for a public health approach to drug use and outlines the role social workers can play in shifting the current paradigm.
Drug Policy Alliance filed Amicus Brief Challenging Random Drug Testing Program
Today, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Lebron v. Secretary, Florida Department of Children and Families, upheld a preliminary injunction that halted Florida’s law requiring drug testing of public assistance applicants as a condition of receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”).
The Obama administration says that drug use should be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. Yet both his budget and his drug policies continue to emphasize enforcement, prosecution and incarceration at home, and interdiction, eradication and military escalation abroad. Even what the government does spend on treatment and prevention is overstated, as many of its programs are wasteful and counterproductive.
Families, including exiled residents of Juarez—epicenter of drug war violence –and relatives of the more than 60,000 killed in drug war, go to Drug Enforcement Administration to demand alternatives to costly, catastrophic failure of drug prohibition, military aid, and the open gun market.
El Paso, Texas –On Tuesday, August 21st, members of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity will gather in front of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) division office in El Paso to demand accountability from the principal US government agency charged with prosecuting the drug war in both Mexico and the United States, and to seek a dialogue about the costs of this war—and how to bring it to an end.
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.
Law enforcement attitudes towards medical marijuana in California have been mixed. Generally, many law enforcement officials and associations have been hostile to medical marijuana, since California’s voters legalized it in 1996 and continuing today.