By Alex Klaus

At the end of March, new details were released in the killing of Marvin Scott III by Texas corrections officers, revealing just how easy it is for people with mental health issues to get caught in the crosshairs of the drug war, how these interactions with law enforcement can quickly escalate into too often dangerous and even fatal encounters, and how inadequate the criminal justice system is at providing necessary care and support services.

It’s important to recognize the prevalence to which mental health issues and substance disorders coexist. With about half of the population of those…


New report documents the critical need to repeal 1033, which allows the federal government to equip local police with military gear.

By Maritza Perez, Cyrus O’Brien and Charlotte Lawrence

Law enforcement officers used a water cannon mounted on an MRAP obtained through 1033 against people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in subfreezing temperatures on Nov. 20, 2016. Officers also used tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and pepper spray.

You’ve probably seen it by now, on B-roll if not in real life: Police and sheriff’s deputies spraying protesters with a water cannon mounted on a mine resistant vehicle. Combat vehicles rolling down American streets. Police — some with combat helmets and night vision goggles — touting military-grade rifles. These are America’s militarized police forces, brought to your community, in no small part, by billions of dollars in federal spending. No…


On March 13th, 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed in her home by police officers during a no-knock raid. Her death prompted national attention and outrage as yet another illustrative case of racist and violent police tactics that have taken far too many Black lives, including those of Black women who are both primary targets of the war on drugs and caught in the crossfire when members of their families and communities are targeted. The drug war — and the legal precedents that enable it — is the primary reason for Breonna’s tragic death.

In 1971, President Nixon declared drugs…


By Grey Gardner, Senior Staff Attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance

Last week, the Washington State Supreme Court threw out the state’s simple drug possession statute, finding that it violated the state and federal constitutions. Emboldened perhaps by the voter approved decriminalization measure in Oregon and progress of similar legislation in Washington’s legislature, the Court took a fresh look at the state’s possession statute, which made it a felony to unlawfully possess any amount of controlled substances other than marijuana.

Washington’s law did not require proof of “knowledge and intent” to be criminally liable for possession. Simply being found to…


Today marks five years since the New York Times published its front-page article proclaiming “In heroin crisis, white families seek a gentler war on drugs.” Many things have changed since then, but the drug war rages on. Overdose deaths hit record highs in 2019, and estimates suggest that 2020 may be the worst year yet due to physical isolation, lack of access to treatment and harm reduction, and the disrupted drug supply caused by the pandemic.

Did the white families highlighted in the latest opioid overdose crisis get the gentler war they asked for five years ago? Depends on who…


To our loving, complex, and unapologetic community:

Today, I assume the role of Executive Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. It’s actually quite incredible to write those words. I never imagined when I started at DPA in 2009 that I would get to learn from incredible visionaries at DPA like Ethan, Deborah, asha, Roseanne, Jasmine, and gabriel. I’ve been honored to be at DPA for eleven years as we redefined policy, advocacy, and organizing. Together we’ve played a pivotal role in transforming the national conversation about drug policy. …


By Sophie Dowdy, Drug Policy Alliance

We are in the midst of an unprecedented moment. Over the past few weeks, people all over the country have mobilized to protest police violence in response to the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Carlos Ingram Lopez, and many others at the hands of the police. As we rise up against injustice, many have started to also think about how to build a better future, where communities have found new and better ways to keep each other safe, and the violence of policing is a thing of the past…

Drug Policy Alliance

DPA is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health & human rights.

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