Marijuana News


A study that recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows a significant decrease in opiate overdoses in states that have adopted and implemented medical marijuana laws compared to states that have not. The authors showed that although opiate overdoses rose in states without medical marijuana laws during 2009-2010, they dropped by approximately 25 percent in states with medical marijuana laws during that same period. While these data cannot show a causal relationship [...]

Most arguments in favor of prohibition don’t pass the smell test anymore, yet some of the more entrenched positions remain. Here is some perspective on these arguments, and why they’re plain wrong. 1. Prohibition doesn’t inhibit drug use, just our ability to prevent drug abuse. Legal or not, people will continue to use drugs. Prohibition makes it socially acceptable to treat drug users as criminals, and to prevent people with substance abuse problems from accessing treatment for fear of legal re [...]

NEW YORK, NY – On Thursday, August 28 from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m., members of New York’s DanceSafe chapter will host a free evening of harm reduction preparation called “Surviving Zoo” for this upcoming weekend’s three-day Electric Zoo music festival. Volunteers from New York’s DanceSafe chapter will give away free gift bags containing drug information cards, earplugs and condoms. They will also have personal drug checking kits for sale that allow for individuals to test for adulterants in most il [...]

Trenton—To commemorate World Hepatitis Day, advocates are launching the Hepatitis C Action Campaign and collecting petition signatures urging the New Jersey Legislature to take action on Senate Bill 876 / Assembly Bill 2555, which would require hospitals and health care professionals to offer hepatitis C testing to people born between 1945 and 1965. Three quarters of individuals with hepatitis C are in this age group and the vast majority are unaware that they are infected with the virus. Hepati [...]

It’s just about one year since EZoo made the news by cancelling its third day after two highly publicized deaths due to drug use.  Preparations for the 2014 event have seen many changes to how drug use will be handled – some good, and some bad. But what remains unchanged is that we’re still not talking about how underlying drug war policies prevent the best interventions for health & safety from taking place. EZoo promoters are doing what they can.  They’ve hired “Zookeepers” – young medical [...]

Perhaps the terrible truth of drug war violence will finally be addressed as all of America bore witness this summer to the horror of some 52,000 unaccompanied children who were fleeing devastating violence that had erupted in Central America.  Alone, they had braved the treacherous crossing of the border that divides America from Mexico and most of us first encountered them when we saw the smallest of children, terrified, and being held in cages.  Those images put before our national consciousn [...]

A New PATH and Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign partners in the U.S. and abroad will participate in International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 and the week prior to it. These events honor and remember those who have lost their lives to an overdose. It is also an opportunity to educate policymakers and the public about the growing overdose crisis in the United States and abroad – and to offer concrete solutions that save lives. Each day 105 people die of accidental overdose in [...]

Take action: Save bail reform in New Jersey Author: Date Published: July 18, 2014 Published by Drug Policy Alliance [...]

Movie was commissioned by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, developed by Almap/BBDO agency and produced by Vetor Zero studio in Brazil. International leaders of the Commission prepare to launch report in September with groundbreaking recommendations for major paradigm shift in global drug policy To view the movie in English, click here:   São Paulo, Brazil, August 26th – Today, the global fight to reform drug laws and put an end to the war on drugs gained a powerf [...]

Washington, D.C. – A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law took effect in the District of Columbia today that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. However, advocates emphasize that there is still more work to be done in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers. The Drug Policy Alliance has published an online resource that explains what the public needs to know about D. [...]

SANTA FE, NM – Today, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board held a special hearing on proposed rule changes governing the state’s medical cannabis program.  The board, frustrated that they were never formally consulted with by the Department of Health prior to releasing proposed rule changes, scheduled the hearing to listen to patients, licensed providers, advocates and the Department staff to inform their recommendations on the rules to the Department. The Medical Advisory Board, licen [...]

In a historic vote today the U.S. House passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Heck (D-WA), Perlmutter (D-CO), Lee (D-CA) and Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192. In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws [...]

SANTA MONICA, CA – On Sunday, August 31 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., members of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing) Los Angeles will host their annual commemoration of International Overdose Awareness Day at the Santa Monica Pier and Palisades Park. The event is free and members of the public impacted by a drug overdose are encouraged to attend. The press conference at Palisades Park begins at 11 a.m. Drug Policy Alliance proudly supports A New PATH LA and hundreds of organiz [...]

Washington, D.C. – A far-reaching marijuana decriminalization law takes effect in the District of Columbia Thursday that replaces jail time with a $25 fine for the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, ending a year-long effort in the nation’s capital to reduce severe racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement by D.C. police officers. The “Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014” takes effect tomorrow despite an ongoing Republican-led effort in Congress to block [...]

Take action now and demand that Secretary Hagel end the program that fosters excessive police militarization. Author: Date Published: August 22, 2014 Published by Drug Policy Alliance [...]

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a Statement of Administration Policy today the White House expressed strong opposition to a Republican amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine. The statement calls marijuana reform a “states’ rights” issue, a groundbreaking policy position for the White House to take. The D.C. Council also pas [...]

The dramatic uprising in Ferguson, MO following the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, at the hands of a white police officer has become an international news story. As in the case of Trayvon Martin’s murder in Florida by a paranoid neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012, racism has been at the forefront of the discussion and so too inevitably has been the drug war. The images of a militarized police force in Ferguson are shocking and disturbing but, as John Oliver brillia [...]

Washington, D.C. – This morning the Council of the District of Columbia is expected to pass two emergency resolutions opposing a recent effort led by U.S. House Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) to use congressional oversight to block the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to enact marijuana reform. On June 25th, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Harris that is directed at blocking implementation of a recent law the District of Col [...]

Santa Fe-  Today the city of Santa Fe's City Clerk announced the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the city's citizen initiative process setting the stage to give voters in Santa Fe a vote on reducing marijuana penalties. The Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign headed by Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM, submitted close to 11,000 signatures in 52 days, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The initiative [...]

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released its 2014 National Drug Control Strategy today. The strategy has shifted some from previous years in that it more clearly focuses on reducing the harms associated with substance misuse, such as overdose and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases, while also reducing the harms associated with punitive drug policies, such as reducing the use of mandatory minimum sentencing. The Administration’s [...]

Denver, CO – Governor John Hickenlooper has introduced his administration’s marijuana prevention campaign to deter underage consumption. The theme of the campaign is marijuana’s potential impact on the developing adolescent brain, using the slogan “don’t be a lab rat.” The administration plans to place human sized rat cages throughout the city of Denver, particularly at high-traffic bus stops. While flashy and memorable, the campaign has raised concerns among advocates who question the credibili [...]

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (more commonly known as the Drug Czar’s office; ONDCP) released its 2014 National Drug Control Strategy today. The strategy has shifted some from previous years in that it more clearly focuses on reducing the harms associated with substance misuse, such as overdose and the transmission of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases, while also reducing the harms associated with punitive drug policies, such as reduc [...]

SACRAMENTO, CA — Yesterday, the California legislature passed Assemblymember Richard Bloom’s important drug overdose prevention bill (AB 1535), which would permit pharmacists to furnish the opiate overdose antidote naloxone, pursuant to procedures developed by the Board of Pharmacy and the Medical Board of California. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature. “The bipartisan support of the Legislature is gratifying and will directly help many California families,” said Assembl [...]

NEW YORK: On Wednesday, July 9th at 11am, elected officials, community members and the coalition, New Yorkers for Public Health & Safety, will rally on the Steps of City Hall to call for comprehensive reform to address racially biased marijuana arrests and devastating collateral consequences. What: Press Conference to introduce the Fairness and Equity Act — a comprehensive reform to fix New York’s broken decriminalization law and address collateral consequences When: Wednesday, July 9th 11a [...]

SACRAMENTO, CA — Facing its final Assembly hearing, the California Fair Sentencing Act (SB 1010) authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) won approval today. Mitchell’s bill will correct the groundless disparity in sentencing, probation and asset forfeiture guidelines for possession of crack cocaine for sale versus the same crime involving powder cocaine that has resulted in a pattern of racial discrimination in sentencing and incarceration in California. SB 1010 returns to the Senate for [...]

At the semi-annual summit of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which concluded in Antigua this weekend, CARICOM leaders agreed to establish a commission to review marijuana policy in the region in order to assess the need for reforms to marijuana laws. The communiqué issued at the conclusion of the meeting stated that “Heads of Government agreed to establish a Regional Commission on Marijuana to conduct a rigorous enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues [...]

Amanda Reiman, PhD, policy manager in California, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on drug policy at the University of California-Berkeley.   Dear Doctors, I have not smoked, vaporized or eaten any marijuana in about seven months but I continue to use a topical application for pain every few days or so. Am I likely to test positive for cannabis use in a urinalysis? Thank you,R. Dear R., Thank you for your question. Topical cannabis applications can be extremely helpful for [...]

Monday at 10 a.m., the D.C. Cannabis Campaign will submit 58,000 signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections at 441 4th Street NW Suite 250,  in order to place Initiative 71 on the November ballot. The Board of Elections will have 30 days to verify that the campaign has the required 23,780 signatures to qualify. Monday at 12 pm noon, members of the campaign will join D.C. elected officials on a national press teleconference to discuss the impact of the ballot initiative and the City Council’s bill [...]

National news headlines as of late have focused on immigration reform as the main Latino issue that will drive Hispanics in numbers to the polls come midterm season, but immigration reform should not be the only thing on Latino voters or politicians’ minds. Drug policy reform is very much a Latino issue and something that more Hispanic organizations should pay mind to. In 2011 nearly 52 million Hispanics lived in the U.S., accounting for 17 percent of the U.S. population, a modest jump from 13 p [...]

The year 2014 has seen several significant drug policy reform milestones. And today marks a major historical anniversary in the nation’s efforts toward eliminating discriminatory practices from government policy, and bringing hope to communities of color nationwide. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the Civil Rights Act. The embodiment of this hope was captured with the release of the critically acclaimed Sam Cooke single, “A Change is Gonna Come.” Collectively, as we ref [...]

Have you seen the viral anti-drug PSA making the rounds this week? The one where the wholesome looking guy at the rave is rolling really, really hard on some unknown substance, feverishly rubbing it on his gums and sweating up a storm while blathering about pretty hair and the amazing beats? And the pretty girl thinks he’s kind of gross and scary? It’s your basic, old-school ‘just say no’ public service announcement, where there are no actual facts about drugs and not a single tip for how to sta [...]

Last week, I attended the Cannabis Business Summit, hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association in Denver. At first glance, the gathering looked like any other trade show, but with one almost surreal exception, that the Denver Convention Center was teeming with businesses, investors and policy organizations showcasing the burgeoning legal marijuana market. As a policy reformer based in New York, I was excited to see the vast array of marijuana providers and ancillary businesses, like li [...]

Is the recent effort in Brush, CO to turn an abandoned prison into a marijuana cultivation facility a sign of our drug policy future? Private prisons are closing all over the country and in places like California, Washington and Colorado, real estate markets are impacted by local marijuana industries.  The situation in Brush brings the two recent phenomena together in a story of incarceration to legalization. Over the last 40 years, marijuana prohibition and the system of mass incarceration repr [...]

WASHINGTON, DC — In less than 75 days, the DC Cannabis Campaign has collected more than twice the number signatures required to place Initiative 71 on November’s General Election ballot.  However, the Campaign is alarmed that members of Congress may prevent District voters from being able to vote on the ballot initiative due to policy riders that were added to the District of Columbia’s 2015 appropriation budget. “We are proud of our petition circulators who braved the heat to further democracy [...]

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Donna Smith, a veteran who served our country with distinction, and who is a licensed physician’s assistant was recently terminated from her position with Presbyterian Health Services due to her enrollment in the state’s medical marijuana program.    “As both a patient and a healthcare provider, I am deeply disappointed by Presbyterian Healthcare Systems’ decision to terminate me for nothing more than my enrollment in New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program," said Smith [...]

Earlier today, more than 140 local, national and international organizations released a letter calling on Congress to end the archaic federal funding ban on syringe service programs (SSPs). The ban was put in place in 1988, repealed in 2009, and reinstated by Congress in 2011. The signatories include over 80 prominent organizations from 26 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, in addition to dozens of national and international organizations such as the American Psychologi [...]

Today the Washington, D.C. Board of Elections ruled that Initiative 71, an initiative reforming D.C.’s marijuana laws, has enough valid signatures in order to qualify for the November ballot. One month ago, the D.C. Cannabis Campaign submitted 57,000 signatures, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot.    “It is clear from the number of signatures the campaign was able to submit that citizens want a major change in D.C’s marijuana laws,” said Dr. Malik Burnett, D.C. Policy Ma [...]

Washington, D.C. – This morning the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) prohibiting the District of Columbia from spending any of its locally-raised revenues to carry out any law, rule or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce criminal penalties for marijuana. The amendment is directed at a recent law the District of Columbia passed replacing jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use with a small fine. “It is outrageous th [...]

Trenton, NJ—Today the New Jersey State Assembly passed major bail reform legislation.  The legislation has already passed in the State Senate and will now go to Governor Christie’s desk for consideration.  The bail reform legislation is comprised of two pieces.  The first is a resolution that would put a question on the ballot for voters to decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow the preventative detention of dangerous offenders (SCR128/ACR177).  The second part is legislation th [...]

On Monday, June 30th, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm, EST, Eugene Jarecki, the award-winning filmmaker and director of the The House I Live In, will join the Drug Policy Alliance’s asha bandele for a discussion on the film’s impact.  The quarterly town hall-style conference calls are designed to ensure that the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs, is bringing before the widest audiences, the most influential members in our community and allowing for an open discussion with those w [...]

Last week, nine year-old Anna Conte died after a long battle with a seizure disorder.  Anna and her family had been at the center of a successful fight to pass a medical marijuana law in New York.  Medical marijuana has dramatically reduced life-threatening seizures in other children with Anna’s condition. Her family, working with patients and caregivers across New York, persuaded lawmakers, who had been considering legislation for eighteen years, to finally pass a medical marijuana law this Jun [...]

Rep. Andy Harris’s (R-MD) recent appropriations rider to block marijuana decriminalization in Washington, DC is by no means the first instance of federal overreach into efforts surrounding drug policy reform in the District of Columbia. In fact, the District of Columbia has served as center stage for the policies which have served to define the modern drug war. For most of its history, District residents lived under the jurisdiction of laws that they had no ability to make or to change. Prior to [...]

Dear Doctors, “Medical marijuana laws are popping up all over the country, however some of them only allow for strains high in CBD, for kids with seizures. I always thought of THC and marijuana. What’s all this CBD talk about?” CBD Skeptic   Dear Skeptic, Thank you for your question. CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it is a compound which has shown remarkable benefits in children with severe epilepsy. However, CBD is just one of the estimated 66 cannabinoids which work in conjunction with over 40 [...]

The FIFA World Cup presents an opportunity for journalists and activists from the competing nations to bring international attention to issues in their countries. Let's highlight the progress some of this year’s competing nations have made on drug policy reform. Harm Reduction Many of the World Cup competitor nations have developed harm reduction programs to tackle problematic drug use. Harm reduction is an intelligent and compassionate response to the reality that a drug free society is an [...]

The blatant contradiction of America's drug war, that prohibition will protect young people, has to end. From Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No,” to the adoption of D.A.R.E. programs in public schools, young people have been used as political leverage to continue prohibitive drug strategies in spite of the detrimental effects to our welfare. And because young people are ushered into the criminal justice system under the guise of fighting drug use, it’s incumbent for young people to say no more, n [...]

Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, D.C., is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization.   Dear Docs: I have heard that marijuana use can lead to lower IQ, but I have also seen marijuana use help children with seizure disorders. I know that alcohol kills brain cells, is it true the marijuana also kills brain cells? Sincerely,Head-scratcher Dear Head-scratcher, Thanks for you [...]

Can the ballot really end marijuana prohibition and the drug war? The short answer is yes. As my esteemed colleague, Stephen Gutwillig, wrote earlier this week, “voter initiatives — primarily reforming or repealing marijuana laws — appear on the ballots in seven states, at least 17 municipalities and one U.S. territory.” And today, National Voter Registration Day, provides us with a great opportunity to remember one of the most powerful weapons against the failed war on drugs: the ballot. In 2 [...]

*Editor’s note: In a new feature of the Drug Policy Alliance blog, DPA's Dr. Malik Burnett and Dr. Amanda Reiman will lend their expertise to answer your questions about marijuana every other Thursday. Dr. Malik Burnett, policy manager in Washington, D.C., is a former surgeon and physician advocate. He also served as executive director of a medical marijuana nonprofit organization. Amanda Reiman, PhD, policy manager in California, holds a doctorate in Social Welfare and teaches classes on d [...]

The war on drugs is a cruel joke. The U.S. spends more than $50 billion a year on the "war on drugs" with the goal of creating a "drug-free society" – yet there has never been a “drug-free society” in the history of civilization. Virtually all of us take drugs every single day.  Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, Prozac, Ritalin, opiates and nicotine are just some of the substances that Americans use on a regular basis. Drugs are so popular because people use them for both [...]

New York City:  Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a medical marijuana bill into law, making New York the twenty-third state to allow legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. Patients, caregivers and healthcare providers are attending the bill signing ceremony at The New York Academy of Medicine, along with the bill sponsors, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino. After years of advocacy and intense last minute negotiations between lawmakers, the bill passed o [...]