Drug Policy Alliance to Hand Out Honors to Leading Advocates and Organizations at Biennial Conference in Long Beach, CA

Press Release November 3, 2005
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

Long Beach, CA- The Drug Policy Alliance will honor advocates, elected officials and organizations for their courageous work in reforming drug laws at the Drug Policy Alliance’s 2005 Biennial conference in Long Beach, CA. The awards will be presented at an awards banquet on Saturday, November 12 at 7 p.m. at The Westin Long Beach. The banquet is sponsored by the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

The conference, “Building a Movement for Reason, Compassion and Justice: The Drug Policy Alliance 2005 International Biennial Conference,” will attract almost 1,000 drug policy experts, health care and drug treatment professionals, elected officials and family and friends of drug war prisoners from around the country and across the world November 9-12 to promote alternatives to the failed “War on Drugs.”

The biennial awards for achievement in drug policy reform recognize the accomplishments and commitment of people and organizations that have done outstanding drug policy reform work. The awards are given every other year at the international conference of the Drug Policy Alliance.

“These are the true heroes of the War on Drugs,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Their courageous work to reform the nation’s, misguided and ineffective drug laws are highly commendable and we are honored to be able to recognize these pioneers for their groundbreaking work.”

This year’s honorees are:

The Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform

This award is given to the individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to drug war extremism.

Salt Lake City, UT, Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson has become the most outspoken and effective local elected official in the United States when it comes to drug policy reform. Within six months of taking office in 2000, he made headlines by eliminating the ineffective, misleading, and costly D.A.R.E. program in Salt Lake City calling it “an absolute fraud on the people of this country.” Since then he has continued to innovate: police in Salt Lake City now receive harm reduction trainings. The city has created a program for educating sex workers about how to protect themselves from the dangers associated with drug misuse and the spread of disease. And Mayor Anderson, in partnership with numerous drug policy reform organizations, recently welcomed the first comprehensive conference on harm reduction and methamphetamine to Salt Lake City.

The Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Journalism

This award honors those in the media who question official drug war propaganda.

Jacob Sullum and Maia Szalavitz have, over the past fifteen years, distinguished themselves as two of America’s premier journalists addressing both drug use and drug policy. Between the two of them, Mr. Sullum and Ms. Szalavitz have produced some of the best writing covering almost every aspect of drugs and drug policy.

Mr. Sullum is a senior editor of Reason, a monthly magazine on politics and culture, a syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of two books including Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use. Ms. Szalavitz is a journalist who covers health, science, and public policy and a senior fellow at the media watchdog group STATS. She has written for numerous major publications including The New York Times, New Scientist, Newsweek, Elle, Salon, and Redbook. She is the author (with Dr. Joseph Volpicelli) of Recovery Options: The Complete Guide: How You and Your Loved Ones Can Understand and Treat Alcohol and Other Drug Problems.

The Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship

This award recognizes scholars, like Alfred Lindesmith, whose personal courage and quality of published research constitute a source of rational inspiration for all who labor in drug policy scholarship.

Martin Jelsma is a political scientist specializing in Latin America and international drug policy, and the coordinator and founder of the Drugs and Democracy Programme at the Transnational Institute (TNI). Mr. Jelsma has consistently provided the most trustworthy analysis of developments in countries that have the most serious drug production problems, particularly Burma and Colombia. His work is informed by an understanding of the cultural, political and social context of drug production and reflects an admirable concern with human rights. He is increasingly recognized as one of, if not the, outstanding strategists in terms of how international institutions deal with drugs and drug policy.

The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action

This award honors citizens who make democracy work in the difficult area of drug law and policy reform.

DrugSense and its Media Awareness Project (MAP) are composed of a nationwide network of volunteer activists dedicated to disseminating honest and accurate information on all aspects of drug policy to the media, policy makers, and the general public. Launched in 1996, DrugSense is devoted to informing the public of the existence of rational alternatives to the drug war, and to helping organize citizens to bring about needed reforms. To date their efforts have resulted in generating over 20,635 published letters to the editor, the development of an online archive of over 163,000 drug policy news and opinion pieces, and the creation of numerous internet-based drug policy reform discussion groups.

The Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine

This award recognizes medical and treatment experts who perform rigorous scientific research and who have the courage to report their findings even though they may be at odds with current dogma.

Valerie and Michael Corral were arrested in 1992 for the cultivation of five marijuana plants. Ms. Corral began using marijuana as replacement for a rigorous pharmaceutical regimen following an auto accident in 1973 that caused a brain trauma and resulted in her becoming epileptic. Spurred by the arrest, the Corrals became involved in the campaign to legalize medical marijuana and the Corrals became the first advocates in the state of California to challenge existing law based on the defense of necessity, and win. Ms. Corral has served as an expert witness in cases involving Proposition 215, co-authored Santa Cruz City Ordinance in 2001, given testimony to the Senate Health Committee, and co-developed the County of Santa Cruz Medical Marijuana ID Card Program.

The H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement

This award is given to those involved in law enforcement who have demonstrated a balanced regard for the needs of enforcement and human compassion.

Jack Cole is a founding member and the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), which works to reduce the multitude of harms resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition. Under Mr. Cole’s leadership, LEAP has become the leading organizer of members of the law enforcement community who have come to recognize the societal damage caused by drug prohibition. Jack Cole and LEAP have brought one of the most powerful voices for reform–the public servants responsible for enforcing our failing drug laws–into the national spotlight.

The Justice Gerald Le Dain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law

This award is given to those involved in law who have worked within official institutions when extremist pressures dominate government policies.

Vanita Gupta and her team of volunteer attorneys persuaded Governor Rick Perry in August 2003 to pardon all 45 Tulia, Texas, defendants who had been convicted on drug charges based on the unsubstantiated testimony of a lone undercover narcotics agent. Working with co-counsel, she also recently settled the civil rights cases filed on behalf of the wrongfully convicted Tulia residents for $6 million. The settlement also disbanded the narcotics task force responsible for the drug sting and resulted in the early retirement of two key officers involved in overseeing the abusive sting operation. She is currently working as assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where her work centers on civil rights litigation that promotes systemic reform of the criminal justice system.

The Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education

This award is given to those involved in drug education who have promoted honest, science-based drug education in place of ineffective scare tactics based on myths and deceit.

Carla Niño and Pat Klotz are the first winners of the Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education. Through their leadership roles in the California State Parent Teacher Association, have championed positive drug education that prioritizes the health and safety of teenagers.. Believing the money used to conduct random drug tests would be better spent on honest drug education and effective treatment, the more than 1 million parent, teacher, and student members of the PTA in California adopted an official position opposing zero tolerance policies in schools.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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