These arrests more often impact impact Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people and those with low-income. Two-thirds of Americans support eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and replacing them with a new approach centered in public health.
Every 31 seconds, someone is arrested for a drug offense. Over 85% of drug arrests are for possession alone.
Black people are 24% of those arrested, but only make up 13% of the U.S. population -- and people of all races use and sell drugs at similar rates. This arrest rate is instead due to targeted policing, surveillance, and punishment tactics.
Locking people up for drug offenses blocks them from support. It can later get in the way of finding a job, education, or a place to live. We need to prioritize supporting people, not incarcerating them.
Fatal drug or alcohol overdose increased over 600% in state prisons from 2001-2018. Treatment or medications for substance use disorder are rarely available in prison.
People face up to 50 times higher risk of overdose in their first weeks after release from jail or prison, compared to the general population.
Social services, education, housing, employment, and other systems should support people and communities. Instead, they too often punish people who use drugs, and deny them help and opportunity.
Drug use is the second-highest source of student referrals to police. It can lead to cutting off students from programs that are most likely to help them succeed.
After illegal entry, drug offenses were the most common cause of deportation in 2019.
One lifesaving solution is overdose prevention centers (OPCs). They reduce the risks of drug use, prevent overdose deaths, and connect people to ongoing care. Sixty-four percent of voters support opening OPCs.
107,600 people died from an accidental overdose in the U.S. in 2021. Black and Native people have the highest rates of overdose nationwide.
More than 600 overdoses were reversed at the overdose prevention centers run by OnPoint NYC in their first year of operation.
To support people and address the root causes of drug use, the government must reinvest funds back into the communities most harmed by the drug war.
Taxpayers spent $3.3 billion funding the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2021. The agency costs $6,300 per minute to run.
$169 million worth of military equipment was transferred to law enforcement through the 1033 program in 2022. This program militarizes police with armored vehicles, body armor, and rifles to monitor and punish drug use, sales, and activity.
88% of U.S. adults agree marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use. As states legalize and regulate, they must do it right. Reforms need to center health, justice, equity, and reinvestment.
Marijuana possession made up 30% of drug-related arrests in 2020. For decades, personal possession of marijuana was the most arrested drug offense in the U.S.
Black people are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people nationally, despite similar rates of use. This disparity is even higher in many states.
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