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Drug Law Reform Overview

The Issue

The United States has approximately one quarter of the world’s prison population. One large contributing factor is due to stringent drug laws that are putting large amounts of non-violent offenders behind bars for long periods of time, on the tax-payer’s dollar. With growing support for the legalization of medicinal marijuana, drug law reform is a hot button issue for many states. NACDL fights to prevent discriminatory and disproportionate laws often inherent in many drug laws. Instead of individuals addicted to drugs receiving the help they need, they are often thrown into prisons and forgotten about. Reform is needed in order to ensure that access to treatment is by request and not structured within the criminal justice system.

NACDL Resolution on End of Drug War

In addition, in November 2000, NACDL passed a Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Calling for an End to the War on Drugs.  

Current News

Drug ImageIn 2018, with the passage of H. 511, Vermont eliminated all penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and two mature and four immature marijuana plants for a person who is 21 years of age or older (retains criminal penalties for possession, dispensing, and sale of larger amounts of marijuana). Voters in Michigan approved recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana was approved in Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.

Marijuana Facts

In July 2016 the Drug Policy Alliance released a report marijuana.  This comprehensive report lays out the history of marijuana, the effects of marijuana, where it is legalized and more. See report here

NACDL’s Drug Law Reform page provides recent news articles, newly released reports and external resources.


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