Freedom of Information Act Requests

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. Sect. 552) was enacted by Congress in 1966 to give the public access to information held by the federal government. The Act gives any person or organization the right to request and receive any document, file or other "record" in the possession of any agency of the federal government, subject to certain defined exemptions. The Act requires the government to search for and provide documents in the possession of the agency, not to create documents in response to a request. Although the federal Act does not apply to state governments, each state has its own laws governing disclosure of records held by state and local government bodies.

Government records often contain facts that can be helpful to organizations, businesses, and individual citizens. Such information is necessary to inform the public about what the government is or is not doing with regard to matters of public concern. Regulatory agencies, for instance, have a large amount of data such as inspection reports, individual files, tests on a broad spectrum of goods and services and data submitted by industry on such subjects as pollution or nuclear safety.

Since its inception, NORML has asked for, and frequently received, federal documents which contain information relevant to drug policy reform. Many of those responses are linked here.

For further information and instructions on how to file a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act, see http://www.legalmetro.com/library/a-complete-guide-to-the-freedom-of-information-act.html.

For a listing of principal FOIA Contacts at Federal Agencies, see http://www.justice.gov/oip/foiacontacts.htm.