The Drug War: Who Loses Out?

Every year, 1.4 million people are arrested in the United States simply for using or possessing drugs for personal use. That roughly translates to one arrest every 23 seconds. Incarceration means barriers to education, housing and employment. With the number of people in prison for drug offenses 10X higher than in 1980, countless lives and communities have been destroyed.

In this tragic war, who loses out?

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Meet John

John is a young black man in his early 20s. Like many people his age, he occasionally uses marijuana – a substance that half of all U.S. adults have also used.

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John’s Arrest

One night, John is pulled over by the police. They search his car, and he’s found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana.

Despite similar rates of drug use and selling across racial lines, people of color experience a very different criminal justice system. Not only are they more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted and harshly sentenced, but they suffer most from the repercussions of a lifelong criminal record.

John is now lost in the maze of our country’s discriminatory criminal justice system. John has lost his life to the war on drugs.

The drug war is racist.

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His sentence: Five years in prison and a lifetime of struggle.

According to his conviction, John had just enough marijuana on him to charge him with intent to sell. Prosecutors are 2X more likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for black people than for their white counterparts accused of the same offense.

What if John had a prior conviction? He would be behind bars for a decade or more.

The drug war is inhumane.

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As one of the 2.2 million people behind bars in the U.S., John spends 5 years away from friends, family, his community and life outside the confines of his 6x8 prison cell.

Instead of reducing problematic drug use or overdose deaths, incarceration has broken up families. It has worsened the health prospects for people who use drugs, and further disenfranchised disadvantaged communities.

It also costs taxpayers billions of dollars.

The drug war is expensive.

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Getting Out

At the end of 5 years, John is declared a "free" man. But is he, really?

Following his time in prison, John is confronted by the fact that his dreams of pursuing graduate school are thwarted by his permanent record. Not only that, but his employment options have become limited.

Punishments for drug law violations do not end with the criminal justice system. Policies denying voting rights, employment, business loans, trade licensing, student financial aid, child custody and housing assistance will follow John for the rest of his life.

And yet, our current administration seems bent on escalating the drug war instead of addressing its very tragic consequences. President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are seeking to undo state-level marijuana reforms, and Sessions has instructed the nation’s federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges for those who use drugs – including low-level, nonviolent people with no criminal history. Sessions claims it is the “moral and just” thing to do.

How can you help change this?

The drug war is stoppable.

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Our Movement Continues

Thanks to our supporters, we work hard every day to ensure lives are no longer destroyed in this senseless, bigoted war.

We partner with civil rights and social justice organizations, formerly incarcerated people, and allies from across the political spectrum to end discriminatory policies. We’re working to challenge this administration and end the failed war on drugs, once and for all.

Are you in?

5 years of taxpayer $$$ spent on the drug war = $250+ Billion

It’s up to us to stop our country’s massive waste and suffering. to let your friends and family know you stand with us. Or, better yet, support us with a gift today to help us advance drug policy reform grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

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