Parents, Legislators, and National and International Experts Join at Brown University to Discuss the Future of Rhode Island’s Drug Treatment, Education, Intervention, Regulatory and Prevention Strategies

Press Release December 3, 2012
Media Contact

Contact: Brad Brockmann ([email protected] ) 617-901-9425, Tony Newman ([email protected])&nbsp; 646-335-5384 , or Jared Moffat ([email protected]) 601-946-9554</p>

Providence, RI – Co mmunity leaders will join state legislators and drug policy experts to deliberate the direction of Rhode Island’s marijuana policy at “New Directions Rhode Island: A Public Safety and Health Approach to Drug Policy,” a statewide conference to be held December 8th at Brown University. The public symposium will convene state leaders alongside policy experts to examine the impact of and alternatives to current drug policies – and call upon Governor Chafee to embrace the growing nationwide momentum behind reform.

“Rhode Islanders recognize that it’s time for reform,” said Senator Josh Miller of Warwick. “This conference is an opportunity to discuss what reform could look like.”

The conference will explore methods of reform that might better protect Rhode Island communities, families and kids, said Michelle McKenzie, a conference organizer and mother affiliated with Protect Families First, a Rhode Island nonprofit. “We rarely hear it, but the first victims of our current policies are families and children,” said McKenzie.

“All the evidence shows that our current laws simply cultivate a massive black market, which in turn preys on young people,” added Dr. Nick Zaller, Professor of Medicine at Brown University and recent father, also with Protect Families First. “The confe rence will look at how strictly regulating the market for marijuana could seriously impact the existing black market, and reduce drug-related crime and drug availability for our kids, among other things. That’s what this conference is about – finding acceptable solutions.”

One hundred fifty to two hundred stakeholders from around the state will come together to listen to and engage with community leaders and experts about:

Featured participants include:

Following recent referendums in Washington and Colorado, marijuana reform remains in the national spotlight. But the conference is meant to deliberate, not dictate, emphasized Brad Brockmann, a conference organizer and Executive Director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights. “This is an effort to invite all parties to the table,” said Brockmann. “We need an open discussion, and to hear all sides of the debate.”

The announcement of the conference comes one week after Rep. Edith Ajello announced her intention to introduce legislation to legally regulate marijuana in 2013. “This conference is what we need to jumpstart the conversation about reform,” said Ajello. “Whatever we decide to do must put Rhode Island values first. We can be the first state to deliberate, and possibly pass, pro-family drug policy reform.”

The event will take place in Brown’s Alumnae Hall at 194 Meeting St. in Providence from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., with registration and breakfast available starting at 8:30 a.m. Spaces are limited.  Rhode Islanders and others interested in attending the conference should register at or email conference coordinator Rebecca McGoldrick at [email protected] to reserve a seat.

This event is sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, National Association of Social Workers–RI Affiliate, RI Public Health Association, RI Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, RI Communities for Addiction Recovery Efforts, American Civil Liberties Union–RI Affiliate, Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, D irect Action for Rights and Equality, Protect Families First, Faith Infused Recovery Efforts, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and OpenDoors.

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

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