Drug Policy Alliance to Host 2017 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Atlanta, October 11– 14

Press Release July 27, 2017
Media Contact

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<p>Tony Newman (646) 335-5384<br />
Tommy McDonald (510) 338-8827</p>

How will the Trump Administration impact drug policies in America?  What will happen with states that have legalized marijuana and those that are considering similar policies?  What can be done to solve the overdose crisis?  How are U.S. jurisdictions continuing to move forward with innovative criminal justice reforms?   What does drug policy reform have to do with racial justice?

More than 1,500 people will gather in Atlanta, Georgia, October 11 – 14 for DPA’s biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference (#Reform17) at the Omni Atlanta Hotel @ CNN Center to discuss these issues and much more.  Press are invited to attend, and speakers are available for one-on-one interviews.

"We are facing major challenges, but this is also a time of tremendous opportunity for the drug reform movement," said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, the incoming executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "More people than ever are realizing the need to stop arresting people for drug use, end marijuana prohibition, and take meaningful actions to stem overdose deaths."

The upcoming conference is taking place at a paradoxical moment in the fight against the war on drugs. In multiple states, 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, on the other hand, the new administration is escalating the drug war by undermining civil rights and rolling back much of the progress made under the Obama administration. The challenge faced by reformers was put into stark relief when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced new directives to increase the use of civil asset forfeiture and draconian mandatory minimum sentences. The president, meanwhile, believes that building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border would alleviate the recent surge in overdose deaths.

The Reform Conference draws attendees from all around the world who come from across the political spectrum. From those who have seen the worst of drugs and addiction, to hundreds of formerly incarcerated people, to elected officials and policymakers from all levels of government. From those who have never tried illicit drugs, but are outraged at the money and lives wasted due to the drug war, to active drug users doing political organizing in their communities.  From student activists and grassroots racial justice organizers, to law enforcement, faith leaders, academics, and marijuana entrepreneurs. What unites this remarkable array of people is a passion for uprooting the drug war – and a yearning for a more just, compassionate and effective way of dealing with drugs in our lives and in our communities.

The conference will take place in Georgia, which has the fourth highest incarceration rate of any U.S. state. Black people in Georgia are incarcerated for drug offenses at twice the rate of their white counterparts, despite the fact that rates of drug use and sales are similar across racial lines.

Below is a sampling of the 50+ panels at the conference:

Michelle Alexander, author of the bestseller The New Jim Crow, will speak on a plenary about the war on drugs, mass incarceration and criminal justice.

DPA’s Manager of Media and Artist Relations, Anthony Papa, will be exhibiting an interactive art installation which will include Nation of Second Chances, a powerful photography series of President Obama's clemency recipients by Jonathan Perri.

The installation will display narratives which are powerful reminders of the raging war on drugs that locks up hundreds of thousands of people and destroys many of our communities. It will also provide a space where conference participants can contribute to the art installation by displaying their art.

DPA will be co-hosting the 2017 International Drug Policy Reform Conference along with the Harm Reduction Coalition, Institute of the Black World, International Drug Policy Consortium, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Marijuana Policy Project, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Open Society Foundations, Just Leadership USA, Harm Reduction International and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

For a full list of partners, more information on the conference, and registration details, please visit: reformconference.org

Promotional videos for the Reform Conference are available here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLf6y9tNpg8wOHPpnzHva7dytOy_GTUHYl

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReformConference

Follow Us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReformConf

Hashtag: #Reform17

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

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