Ever wonder why police spend so much time enforcing failed drug laws? To find the answer, you just need to follow the money. Funding schemes and asset forfeiture laws have given law enforcement agencies strong financial incentives to continue the drug war. Because funding for drug task forces is often based on the number of arrests made and the amount of property seized in drug busts, the easiest way for local police to up their numbers and boost their careers is to target low-level drug offenders, not violent kingpins. To create arrest opportunities, police routinely rely on untrustworthy informants, conduct dangerous home invasions on flimsy evidence, frame suspects and commit perjury. Asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize property with minimal proof, putting the burden instead on suspects to prove their own innocence. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have created financial incentives for property seizures that encourage corruption. DPA is working to end distorted drug war incentives that foster police corruption and encourage good cops to make bad decisions.
A series of synthetic products have emerged that simulate the effects of prohibited drugs like marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine. Often called “legal highs” or “research chemicals” and largely unregulated, these drugs may cause considerably more harm than the substances they are designed to mimic. While states and Congress have rushed to prohibit these chemicals, manufacturers have simply invented new variations of the same substances to skirt the bans.
After first attempting to prohibit various synthetic drugs, New Zealand realized that simply banning these substances was unrealistic and ineffective. In July 2013, the country’s Parliament enacted an historic new law that will regulate and control – rather than criminalize – so-called “bath salts” and other new synthetic drugs.
Drug Policy Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents a remarkable opportunity for criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates to advance efforts to enact policy changes that promote safe and healthy communities, without excessively relying on criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the war on drugs, and which fall so disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color.
U.S. drug policies in Mexico and Central America, focused on militarized counter-narcotics efforts known as the war on drugs, have had severely negative effects on the region. This report analyzes the effects in four areas – militarization, drug policy, violence against women, and forced migration – and examines the impact on three countries: Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
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.
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.
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.
A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
DPA Statement: Drug War Corrupts Police, Ruins Lives, Destroys Trust Between Law Enforcement and Community
Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD narcotics detective, testified yesterday that he regularly saw police plant drugs on innocent people as a way to meet arrest quotas. Mr. Anderson is testifying under cooperation with prosecutors after he was busted for planting cocaine on four men in a bar in Queens. "It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators," said Anderson.