New Directions Conference, June 17 in Washington, DC: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drugs

Press Release June 14, 2010

An unprecedented collection of service providers, law enforcement officials, public health and community advocates will come together to chart a new course in U.S. drug policy at the New Directions Conference on Thursday, June 17 in Washington, DC. The event will take place from 8:45 a.m.-5 p.m., in Room B338 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Drug policy experts from across the country will address strategies for expanding treatment, coordinating prevention and enforcement, implementing overdose prevention and other harm reduction measures during the day-long conference.

When asked about the war on drugs on the campaign trail President Barack Obama said, “I believe in shifting the paradigm, shifting the model, so that we focus more on a public health approach [to drugs].” Polls show the American people agree. President Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, told the Wall Street Journal last year that he doesn’t like the term “war on drugs” because “[w]e’re not at war with people in this country.” Yet for the tens of millions of Americans who have been arrested and incarcerated for a drug offense, U.S. drug policy is a war on them–and their families. What exactly is a public health approach to drugs? What might truly ending the war on drugs look like?

Two hundred of the leading experts on drugs and drug policy will come together at the conference to discuss the following topics:

Panel members include:

For a full list of panel members, go to:

The Drug Policy Alliance is co-hosting the 2010 New Directions DC Conference with the ACLU, amfAR, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, National Association of Social Workers, National Black Police Association, and Physicians for Human Rights. For a full list of partners and more information on the conference visit:

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

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