Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Blumenauer Join Clemency Recipients at Opening Plenary of International Drug Policy Reform Conference on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Press Release November 17, 2015
Media Contact

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

D.C. Metro Area — Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) will join clemency recipients, Kemba Smith and Jason Hernandez at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on Thursday morning in Arlington. Rep. Jeffries, Rep. Blumenauer, Smith and Hernandez will join more than 1,500 conference attendees at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, VA November 18-21 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel.

At the opening plenary, clemency recipients Kemba Smith and Jason Hernandez will share their stories about spending years behind bars and then receiving clemency from Presidents Clinton and Obama. The call for mass clemency comes as efforts are underway in Congress and by the Obama administration to reform federal drug sentencing laws, as well as a broader campaign to adapt federal policy to overwhelming public support for reforming drug laws.

Jeffries is a Democratic Congressman representing the 8th district of New York. He has been a strong DPA ally since his days in the New York Assembly, where he led the fight to end racially biased marijuana arrests. His work in New York State around marijuana arrests and police reform laid the foundation to catapult these issues to national prominence. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he has continued to be a tireless champion of criminal justice reform. On the heels of a nationwide outcry demanding meaningful police reform, Rep. Jeffries introduced the Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act of 2015, legislation that will make the deployment of a chokehold unlawful under federal civil rights law.

When the history of how we ended marijuana prohibition is written, the name of Rep. Blumenauer will feature prominently. He has served Oregon's 3rd district since 1996, and has been a leading voice in the battle for marijuana legalization. Whether quizzing the DEA, championing amendments, or speaking on the House floor, Blumenauer has made ending marijuana prohibition one of the causes of his political career.

“This moment has been long in the coming as the people who make the laws are standing with the people who are impacted by those laws,” said asha bandele, senior director of grants, partnerships and special projects. “Together we are saying with one resounding voice, ‘bring our people home.’”

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a long-time champion of drug policy reform and a staunch ally in the fight against mass incarceration, has recorded a five-minute welcome video for conference attendees, in which he forcefully denounces the war on drugs.

In the past decade, voters and legislators have enacted hundreds of drug policy reforms that reduce the role of criminalization in drug policy. Building on the momentum from these victories, more than 1,500 drug policy experts, health care and drug treatment professionals, elected officials, law enforcement, students, and formerly incarcerated people from around the country and across the world will gather to promote alternatives to the failed war on drugs.

In addition to more than 50 curated panels, the Reform conference will also feature three large plenary sessions, four documentary film screenings, mobile tours of Washington, D.C.’s drug war history, and three-dozen community-based sessions led by conference participants. Finally, the conference will host a national live town hall (available via livestream and teleconference) exploring intersections between two of the most vibrant social movements in the country today, reforming our failed drug policies and Black Lives Matter.

The Drug Policy Alliance is co-hosting the 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference with the ACLU, the Harm Reduction Coalition, Institute of the Black World, International Drug Policy Consortium, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Marijuana Policy Project, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Open Society Foundations, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. For a full list of partners, more information on the conference, and registration details: Visit

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

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