Town Hall Forum Tuesday at Columbia Medical School: Exploring the Role of the Medical Community in Shaping Drug Policy

Press Release October 25, 2009
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Gabriel Sayegh at 646-335-2264

Nationally and locally, a shift in the 40-year-old drug war is underway. President Obama has stated he wants to advance a public health approach to drug policy, and Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has called for an end to the term “war on drugs” because it signifies a war on people. Congress is close to removing the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine and ending the federal ban on funding syringe exchanges, which reduce the spread of blood-borne diseases. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder instructed federal agencies not to target patients who comply with state medical marijuana laws, raising new questions about federal marijuana policies. In New York, Governor Paterson enacted reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, signifying a shift away from a criminal justice-oriented approach to drug policy in favor of a health-oriented approach.

What is the role of the medical community in shaping health-oriented approaches to drug policy? This town hall-style seminar will explore the role of the medical and research community in shaping a more evidenced-based drug policy. Drs. H. Westley Clark and Ethan Nadelmann will give presentations on what components an evidenced-based drug policy should include, and discuss the role the medical community can play in their development.


H. Westley Clark, M.D., J.D., M.P.H.

Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D., J.D.

Founder and Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization promoting policy alternatives to the drug war that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

Moderated by Dr. Carl Hart, Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology of Columbia University

Time: Tuesday, October 27th 2009 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Place: First Floor Hellman Auditorium, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032

This event is free and open to the public.

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

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