ALBUQUERQUE– Why are elected officials from across the political spectrum starting to talk openly about ending marijuana prohibition in the United States? Can cash-starved state and local governments save money by cutting ineffective drug war programs and emphasizing treatment over incarceration? What drove three former Latin American presidents this year to release an influential report that called for “breaking the taboo” on open and honest discussion of alternatives to prohibition, decriminalizing marijuana and treating drug misuse as a health issue rather than a criminal justice matter?
Learn the answers to these questions, pose your own and participate in the cutting edge of drug policy at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Albuquerque, November 12-14. The conference, organized by the Drug Policy Alliance and dozens of other organizations (see list of groups at http://www.reformconference.org/) will play host to nearly 1,000 leaders in international drug policy – including elected officials, law enforcement, health care and drug treatment professionals, researchers, religious leaders, formerly incarcerated Americans and reform advocates from around the world. The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.
In the past decade, U.S. voters and legislators have enacted more than 150 drug policy reforms on issues ranging from medical marijuana to overdose prevention to bans on racial profiling. Building on this momentum, conference participants will survey the drug policy landscape and strategize the next steps. Topics to be discussed include:
- New Mexico: Leading the Way – New Mexico stands at the forefront of U.S. drug policy reform, buoyed by the support of current Gov. Bill Richardson and former Governor Gary Johnson–who is scheduled to attend this year’s conference. We’ll examine New Mexico’s unique state-run system for medical marijuana distribution and pioneering Good Samaritan 911 law that protects individuals from drug possession charges when seeking medical help for an overdose victim.
- Taxing and Regulating Marijuana – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger caused a stir this year when he said it’s “time for a debate” on whether to tax and regulate marijuana. Now advocates for ending marijuana prohibition are gathering signatures to place a tax-and-regulate measure on the 2010 ballot in California, and in the state legislature, CA Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced his own tax-and-regulate bill. Ammiano and the ballot measure backers will be at the conference in Albuquerque.
- International Drug Policy Reform – Argentina and Mexico took major steps this summer to decriminalize personal drug use, on the heels of a groundbreaking report by three former Latin American presidents calling for a “paradigm shift” in international drug policy. The report calls for “breaking the taboo” on open and honest discussion of alternatives to prohibition, decriminalizing marijuana and treating drug misuse as a health issue rather than a criminal justice matter. Former Mexico Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda highlights a panel examining the impact of these moves on the drug war violence in Mexico, as well as the intersection of U.S. drug policy and immigration laws.
- Veterans and the War at Home – Returning veterans, facing high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health challenges, also suffer from high rates of drug addiction. At the conference, leading experts on treatment and harm reduction will take the first in-depth look at a new report detailing treatment options for veterans and recommendations for optimal care.
- Pushing the Envelope: The Next Stage in Harm Reduction – Harm reduction has come a long way since syringe exchange was first introduced to stem the transmission of disease among people who use IV drugs. Now advocates and treatment professionals are building support for additional life-saving measures, such as prescription heroin for people suffering from addiction and supervised injection facilities to reduce the risk of disease and overdose.
The Drug Policy Alliance is co-hosting the 2009 International Drug Policy Reform Conference with the ACLU, the Harm Reduction Coalition, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Marijuana Policy Project, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the Open Society Institute and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. For a full list of partners and more information on the conference: Visit http://www.reformconference.org/