Blog Post

Top 5 Reasons You Should Attend the 2017 International Drug Policy Reform Conference

Melissa Franqui

More than 1,500 people will gather in Atlanta, Georgia, on October 11 – 14 for DPA’s biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference (#Reform17) at the Omni Atlanta Hotel @ CNN Center. It’s the largest gathering of policy makers, activists, health advocates and reformers in the world. Check out the website for a full listing of the program and special events.

It’s not just a conference – it’s the convening of our movement, and here are just a few of the many reasons you should join us.

5. Michelle Alexander is delivering a keynote.

In case you haven’t heard, Michelle Alexander, visionary, scholar, activist, and author of the bestseller The New Jim Crow (basically, the call to action to end the war on drugs) will speak on a plenary about the drug war, mass incarceration and the unjust criminal justice system. Most recently featured in Ava DuVernay’s epic documentary, 13th, Michelle Alexander will speak at the Reform Conference for the first time.

So even if you have been to Reform before, this is something you do not want to miss!

4. Drug Policy Alliance has joined forces with AFROPUNK.

DPA will be continuing its exciting new partnership at AFROPUNK Atlanta, which is being held October 14 - 15 – the same weekend as the Reform Conference! We will be programming social salons at their Carnival of Consciousness and engaging attendees at the DPA tent, providing information and materials.

Come to Reform 2017 and AFROPUNK Atlanta to feel the music, free your mind, and see an incredible lineup of groundbreaking music and activist icons.

3. While Trump is in office, no one is safe.

The upcoming conference is taking place at a paradoxical moment in the fight against the war on drugs. On one hand, marijuana legalization is moving forward rapidly, and there is bipartisan support for reducing the numbers of people behind bars and expanding health-based approaches to reducing the harms of drugs. At the federal level, however, the new administration is escalating the drug war by undermining civil rights, bolstering white supremacists, and rolling back much of the progress made under the Obama administration. Now, more than ever, reformers need to organize and take action.

The president believes that building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border would alleviate the recent surge in overdose deaths. We know how to prevent overdose deaths, and that’s not a solution. From immigration reform activists and racial justice organizers, to law enforcement, libertarians, faith leaders, academics, and marijuana entrepreneurs, this conference is a gathering for everyone who is working to uproot the drug war.

2. Over 55,000 people died of a drug overdose last year.

More than in car accidents. More than from gun violence. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. This sobering tragedy is marked by the heartbreaking truth that most of these fatal overdoses are preventable.

In addition to a plethora of sessions dedicated to policy solutions that will work to end the overdose crisis, there will also be a candlelight vigil on Thursday night at the Museum of Civil and Human Rights to honor those who have perished as a result of the drug war.

1. You should CARE ABOUT THIS because the drug war harms us all...even if we don't use drugs.

The drug war diverts resources from real and needed social supports that ensure healthy people, families and communities. It shames and stigmatizes when people who are struggling deserve compassion and care. The drug war is a failure making our children and all of us less safe.  Help us end it.

Watch the video and register to attend at

Melissa Franqui is the manager of communications and marketing for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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