Our moment
of truth Drug Policy Alliance Annual Report

Letter from the President & Executive Director

Making your voice heard

The work of the Drug Policy Alliance is both all about drugs and ultimately not really about drugs at all.

We are at the front lines of much larger struggles in U.S. and international society – over what it means to remain a free society and how we deal with both real and phantom threats to health, life and security.

Donald Trump’s election and his appointment of drug war extremists to senior positions are going to make it harder to consolidate our marijuana legalization victories, and to make progress in Congress on rolling back harsh drug laws, repealing civil asset forfeiture laws, reducing overdose fatalities, and integrating harm reduction principles into federal drug policies.

But what most concerns us is the assault on the values for which we’ve fought for so long.

We advocate for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights because we believe those values should infuse all public policies.  Only through our shared strength and vision can we uproot the drug war and advance the broader values that guide our struggle.

We’re counting on your continued support to make this possible.

Very truly yours,
Signatures of Ethan and Ira
Ethan & Ira

Last Fall, DPA collaborated with award-winning director dream hampton on a powerful video featuring Jay Z and the artwork of Molly Crabapple, From Prohibition to Gold Rush: A History of the War on Drugs, which has now been viewed by millions of people. Launched in the New York Times, the video addresses mass incarceration, racial discrimination in drug arrests, the emerging legal marijuana market, and the need to repair the drug war’s harms.

Ending the drug war

and mass criminalization

There are many tens of thousands fewer people behind bars today as a result of DPA’s efforts—and hundreds of thousands who either did not go to jail or prison, or who spent less time there, because of our work.

Our longstanding efforts to end civil asset forfeiture—the widespread police practice of seizing people’s property without even a conviction—paid off big time last year, as California and Florida pass reforms to protect people suspected of drug law violations from unjust property seizures. DPA played a pivotal role in both of these states’ efforts, working with allies from across the political spectrum.

Our focus is increasingly on reducing and ending criminal punishment for drug possession. And where drug use is still treated as a felony, as is the case in 32 states, we’re working to reduce it to a misdemeanor.

And at the local level, we’re leading efforts to initiate and implement Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs in several cities across the country such as Ithaca, Los Angeles, Pueblo, CO, Santa Fe and San Francisco.

Promoting health, reducing harm

DPA is leading the fight to reduce the death, disease, crime and suffering associated with both drug use and drug prohibition.

The past few years have been transformative for overdose prevention efforts in the U.S., and much of it can be credited to our efforts. In 2016 we led efforts in New Mexico and Maine to pass life-saving overdose prevention legislation that improves access to the overdose antidote, naloxone, and we were even able to override Governor LePage’s veto in Maine.

We’ve also led efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other preventable diseases by making sterile syringes legally available. This has recently paid off in a big way over the past two
years, with Congress overturning the decades-long ban on federal funding for syringe access programs, and with states like Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Maryland passing legislative reforms to initiate such programs.

Your support is helping save lives every day, all over the country.

Catalyzing international change

DPA exerts influence on U.S. involvement in global drug policy, advises foreign governments on their own drug policy reforms, provides leadership and coordination among U.S. groups, and contributes to the evolution of global drug policy through the media and strategic alliances.

When world leaders gathered in New York for the most significant international drug policy meeting in almost two decades, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS), DPA amplified global calls for wholesale reform. We held events on race and the drug war and on the role of faith leaders in drug policy, and arranged for performers in prohibition-era attire to hand UN attendees copies of the Post-Prohibition Times, a newspaper printout of a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to set the stage “for real reform of global drug control policy.”

This public letter, initiated and led by DPA, included an unprecedented and impressive range of signatories from Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders to former President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,businessmen Warren Buffett, George Soros and Richard Branson, actors Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda, singers John Legend and Mary J. Blige, activists Reverend Jesse Jackson, Gloria Steinem and Michelle Alexander, as well as distinguished legislators, cabinet ministers, and former UN officials.

  • Drug Policy Alliance Honorary Board
  • Former Mayor Rocky Anderson
  • Harry Belafonte
  • Former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
  • Walter Cronkite [1916-2009]
  • Ram Dass
  • Dr. Vincent Dole [1913-2006]
  • Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders
  • U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner (Ret.)
  • Former Police Chief Penny Harrington
  • Calvin Hill
  • Arianna Huffington
  • Former Governor Gary Johnson
  • U.S. District Court Judge John Kane
  • Alexander Shulgin [1925-2014]
  • Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz
  • Russell Simmons
  • U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet
  • Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker
  • Former Attorney General Nicholas deB.
Katzenbach [1922-2012]
  • Former Police Chief Joseph McNamara [1934-2014]
  • Former Police Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy [1920-2011]
  • Dr. Beny J. Primm [1928-2015]
  • Dennis Rivera
  • Former Mayor Kurt Schmoke
  • Dr. Charles Schuster [1930-2011]
  • International Honorary Board
  • Richard Branson
  • Ruth Dreifuss
  • Václav Havel [1936-2011]
  • Sting
  • Drug Policy Alliance Board of Directors
  • The Hon. Larry Campbell
 Senator, The Senate of Canada
  • Christine Downton
 Former Vice Chairman and Founding Partner of Pareto Partners
  • Jodie Evans
 Co-founder, CODEPINK
  • James E. Ferguson, II
 Senior Partner, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers Law Offices
  • Jason Flom
 President, Lava Records
  • Ira Glasser, President
 Former Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Carl Hart, PhD
 New York State Psychiatric Institute
  • Kenneth Hertz
 Senior Partner, Hertz Lichtenstein & Young LLP
  • David C. Lewis, MD
 Founding Director, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University
  • Pamela Lichty
 President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i
  • Svante Myrick
 Mayor of Ithaca, New York
  • Ethan Nadelmann JD, PhD Executive Director
  • Angela Pacheco
 Former District Attorney, 1st Judicial District, New Mexico
  • Josiah Rich, MD
 Professor of Medicine and Community Health, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • Rev. Edwin Sanders, Secretary
 Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church Coordinator, Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy
  • George Soros
 Chairman, Soros Fund Management
  • Ilona Szabó de Carvalho
 Director, Igarapé Institute


Drug Policy Alliance, FY2016


Pie chart displaying data below.
Program expenses $ 9,799,537
Management $ 2,014,232
Fundraising $ 1,387,786
Total Net Assets $ 13,201,555

Drug Policy Action, FY2016


Pie chart displaying data below.
Program expenses $ 2,523,401
Management $ 158,260
Fundraising $ 6,101
Total Net Assets $ 2,687,762

Read the full report

Learn more about our achievements in 2016.

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Copyright © 2017 Drug Policy Alliance. All Rights Reserved.

DPA is a 501(c)(3) organization and all gifts are tax-deductible. Tax ID: 52-1516692

The work described herein includes that of the Drug Policy Alliance, a 501(c)(3) organization, and Drug Policy Action, a 501(c)(4) organization. References to “DPA” refer to the work of both organizations.