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

Press Release September 21, 2017
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827

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 new 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 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.

The conference program is now available. Below is a sampling of the 50+ panels at the conference:

Special Events

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.

There will be a candlelight vigil Thursday night at the Museum of Civil and Human Rights to pay tribute to all those who have perished as a result of the drug war.

DPA will host a major town-hall discussion: The Case for Reparations: 50 Years After the Drug War and Mass Incarceration, What Does America Owe Us?

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 create art and display their work in the installation.

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

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

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