Nation’s Leading Drug Policy Reform Organization Now Called Drug Policy Alliance

Press Release January 27, 2002
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 510-208-7711 or Shayna Samuels at 212-547-6961

Drug Policy Alliance is the new name of The Lindesmith Center – Drug Policy Foundation, the nation’s leading drug policy reform organization. The Alliance will continue the mission of Lindesmith-DPF, broadening the public debate on drug policy and promoting realistic alternatives to the war on drugs based on science, compassion, public health and human rights.

The new name is the latest change for the growing organization. On July 1, 2000, The Lindesmith Center and Drug Policy Foundation merged with the objective of building a national drug policy reform movement. The Lindesmith Center, created in 1994, was the leading independent drug policy reform institute in the United States. Drug Policy Foundation, founded in 1987, represented over 25,000 supporters and was the principal membership-based organization advocating for more sensible and humane drug policies.

“We’re growing fast,” said Ethan Nadelmann, who founded The Lindesmith Center and now serves as executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We want to attain the same measure of influence over drug policy that the Sierra Club, the NAACP, the NRA, Human Rights Watch and other comparable organizations have attained in their respective areas.”

The Drug Policy Alliance will promote its agenda and new name with a publicity campaign later this year involving events across the country, web site redesign and the creation of new outreach materials. In the meantime, the Alliance will continue to use its on-line Action Center as its primary means of providing voters with the resources they need to effect change and extend their grassroots networks.

“Nearly 75% of the public thinks the drug war isn’t working,” said William McColl, Director of Legislative Affairs. “The Action Center gives concerned citizens the necessary tools to fax their legislators, write letters to the editor and generally stay informed on a variety of legislative issues.”

The organization enters 2002 having secured a series of victories around the country. One major success has been the implementation of Proposition 36, California’s “treatment instead of incarceration” ballot initiative, which has kept thousands of first- and second-time non-violent drug offenders out of prison or jail. Similar sentencing reform efforts are planned for Ohio, Florida and Michigan. This year the Alliance will sponsor a major conference on racial discrimination in the drug war. The organization’s Safety First Project is stepping up its efforts to promote more honest and pragmatic drug education for parents and teenagers. Reform of New York State’s draconian Rockefeller drug laws also continues to be a high priority.

Drug Policy Alliance headquarters remain in New York City, with other offices across the country- the Office of National Affairs in Washington, DC, the New Mexico Drug Policy Project in Santa Fe, NM, the Office of Legal Affairs in Oakland, CA, the Safety First Project in San Francisco, and the California Capital Office in Sacramento. The Alliance will soon open an office in New Jersey, which today is to drug policy what Mississippi was to civil rights in the 1960s.

“Drug Policy Alliance will continue to grow as more and more people come out in support of cost-effective, compassionate drug policies,” said Ira Glasser, president of the Drug Policy Alliance Board and former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The tide is changing in America.”

Other Drug Policy Alliance board members include international financier and philanthropist George Soros; Peter Lewis, chairman of the Progressive Corporation*; Rev. Edwin Sanders, a member of President Bush’s Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS; federal court judges Robert W. Sweet (NY) and John L. Kane (CO); Mathilde Krim, founding chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR); former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke; Joseph McNamara, former police chief of San Jose, CA and Kansas City, MO; Dr. Robert Newman, director of the Baron Edmond de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center; and David C. Lewis, founding director of Brown University’s Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

(* affiliation listed for identification purposes only)

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

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