How Do You Clear a Pot Conviction From Your Record?

It depends on where you live. (Californians, you’re in luck.) ddy, a burly 65-year-old professional musician, walked into a free legal clinic in Los Angeles County one July morning hoping to clear his record. More than three decades ago, he served two years probation for attempting to sell a few gram bags of marijuana, a felony that put the immigrant, a legal U.S. resident with a green card, at greater risk of deportation. Thanks to Proposition 64, the California ballot initiative that … [Read more...]

How Legalized Pot Can Make up for the Disastrous War on Drugs

When recreational cannabis becomes legal in California on Jan. 2, part of the focus — in Los Angeles, at any rate — will be on “social equity.” That’s the term for a set of guidelines meant to spread legalization’s wealth to neighborhoods that have gotten the worst of the drug wars. According to draft legislation currently moving through the City Council, for every general license approved for a pot shop, one license must also be approved for social equity reasons. I’m fully in favor of … [Read more...]

Bigger Than Incarceration: Angela Davis Talks Mass Criminalization, Mental Health and the War on Drugs

Earlier this month, iconic scholar, author and political activist Angela Davis joined a public conversation organized by the Drug Policy Alliance to discuss drug policy and criminal-justice discrimination in the United States, both issues of critical importance to African-American and Latino communities. Moderated by DPA Senior Director Asha Bandele, the conversation moved beyond just the hard facts to tackle hard truths, one of which is that the so-called war on drugs is a large-scale … [Read more...]

Seattle’s New Approach to Low-Level Drug Offenses Cuts Recidivism Nearly 60%

LEAD Establishes Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members Interest in LEAD Grows Among Major Cities Across the Nation, Including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Albany ccording to a new, independent study by a University of Washington evaluation team, one of the nation’s most innovative and promising approaches to ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration has been shown to … [Read more...]

Lifetime Ban on Foodstamps Lifted

California Lifts Ban on Public Assistance for People with Drug Convictions ungry? Need a job? Have a drug conviction in your past? Good news, as of yesterday, Californians who were convicted of felony drug possession, use, or distribution after December 31, 1997, will no longer be disqualified from receiving CalWORKs (California’s version of employment assistance for poor people) and CalFresh (food stamps) benefits. Shockingly, we have allowed thousands of children and poor families to go … [Read more...]

Drug Policy Alliance Job Openings

The Drug Policy Alliance National office has two immediate openings: 1. Youth Policy Manager (based in New York City): The Youth Policy Manager is a new full-time position supported by a multi-year grant. The Manager is responsible for coordinating DPA’s advocacy in the area of young people and drugs, which ranges from drug education and prevention to drug effects, juvenile justice, school discipline and child welfare. The Manager will deepen our policy positions, advance key relationships, … [Read more...]

For the LA County Board of Supervisors: Your Rehabilitation Benchmarks

We have now reached the second anniversary of the Public Safety Realignment Act (AB 109) in California. These last two years offered an opportunity for you to enact smart justice policies that are rooted in evidence-based practices and provide cost-effective ways of improving public safety. Again and again, you have bungled this opportunity. For mismanaging realignment in LA County, we are putting you “on probation.” We list for you the following five rehabilitation benchmarks that we … [Read more...]

Alternatives to Jerry Brown’s “More Cages” Prison Plan Proposed

Governor Jerry Brown’s just-proposed plan to ease overcrowding in California prisons without releasing inmates early has drawn quick opposition from prison reform activists across the state and has spawned an alternative approach from a contingent of moderate and liberal Democrats in the state legislature, creating an unusual rift among senior Democrats in the age-old incarceration-rehabilitation divide that usually pits Republican against Democrat. Announced Tuesday, Brown’s plan would spend … [Read more...]

The Incredible Impact of Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Medical Marijuana Special

A little over a week ago, Dr. Sanjay Gupta aired a one hour CNN special on medical marijuana. The impact of his special and an op-ed that he wrote for CNN - where he apologized for his past opposition to medical marijuana - has been incredible! In the run-up to Gupta's CNN special, his op-ed made national news and was shared more than half a million times on Facebook. Just a few years ago, he came out against medical marijuana. Yet in his op-ed he expressed regret for not studying the issue … [Read more...]

Children of Incarcerated Parents Bear the Weight of the War on Drugs

Growing up with an incarcerated parent can be tough. The feelings of isolation and stigma that I and others like me experienced growing up were a tough burden to bear. To ignore the impact of incarceration on the family is to ignore how the drug war continues to dismantle black and Latino communities. The United States' prison population -- fueled by the war on drugs -- is increasing, with blacks and Latinos being the majority of those incarcerated. 2.7 million children are growing up in … [Read more...]