Emerging as the most credible and influential critic of federal drug policies in the capital, our Washington, D.C. office develops and advances federal drug policy reform, educates policymakers on harm reduction principles and builds strategic alliances.
The office exists to challenge the punitive laws that provide the framework for our nation's war on drugs. We develop drug reform proposals, lobby federal policy-makers, build political coalitions, and mobilize voters to pressure their representatives. The office has established a network of Congressional staffers interested in reform; testified in front of the U.S. Sentencing Commission in favor of eliminating the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity and in opposition to raising penalties for Ecstasy; challenged the drug czar’s public policies in the national media; developed an increasingly powerful grassroots network to pressure policy-makers; and worked to make medical marijuana, federal drug sentencing reform, and protection of electronic music national issues.
Staff face three key challenges:
- To counter the ongoing hostility and extremism of the current administration and their powerful allies in Congress
- To track, prioritize and respond efficiently to the large volume of federal legislation affecting drug policy
- To bring state level drug policy reform victories such as ballot initiatives and legislation to bear on Congress
- Secured a $10 million cut from the Drug Czar's wasteful, ineffective Youth Media Campaign during the FY 2011 budget process. The campaign has been targeted for elimination by groups across the political spectrum, from Citizens Against Government Waste to the Republican Study Committee.
- Secured major cuts to the problematic Bryne grant programs in the FY 2011 budget process. The Byrne Grant programs fund state and local law enforcement initiatives but do not provide appropriate oversight or accountability.
- Significantly reformed the notorious 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, which led to egregious racial disparities and the misprioritization of law enforcement resources on low level drug transactions, when the Fair Sentencing Act was signed into law by President Obama on August 3, 2010.
- Passed Sen. Jim Webb’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act, which would create a blue ribbon commission on reforming the U.S. criminal justice system, through the House of Representatives during the 111th Congress.
- Passed a measure through the House of Representatives in the 111th Congress that would have significantly reformed the Higher Education Act aid elimination penalty so that only students convicted of a drug offense involving a sale would lose federal college aid.
- Overturned the decade-old provision that prohibited states from spending federal dollars on sterile syringe access programs and overturned the provision that stopped Washington, D.C. from implementing the medical marijuana initiative passed in 1998, in the 111th Congress.
Office of National Affairs
1620 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006