Drug Policy Alliance Names New Executive Director

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation's most powerful drug reform organization, has selected a replacement for founder and long-time executive director Ethan Nadelmann, who stepped down earlier this year.

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno (Drug Policy Alliance)
The DPA board of directors announced Tuesday it had voted unanimously to appoint Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno as Nadelmann's successor.

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is moving over from Human Rights Watch, where for the past 13 years she served as Co-Director of the US Program, where she picked up plenty of domestic and international drug policy experience. She also pushed for the group to more directly take on the war on drugs as a human rights issue, and as a result, Human Rights Watch became the first major international human rights organization to call for drug decriminalization and global drug reform.

She grew up in Peru and spent her early years at Human Rights Watch researching Colombia, where drug profits helped fuel a decades-long civil war and corroded governmental legitimacy through corruption. That sharpened her awareness of the need for social justice and drug policy reform.

"We are excited to have found someone with such passion to reverse and remedy the destructive effects of the drug war, and with the knowledge, experience and persistence to do it," said DPA board president Ira Glasser.

As Co-Director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch, she manages a team that fights against racial discrimination in law enforcement, punitive sentencing, and deportation policies that tear families apart -- all issues inextricably intertwined with the war on drugs.

"The war on drugs is a root cause of many of the injustices I have fought throughout my career," said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. "I'm both honored and delighted to now take on the cause of ending the war on drugs, as part of an organization that has already been behind groundbreaking reforms in the US and abroad"

McFarland Sánchez-Moreno takes over at a very interesting time for drug reform. On one hand, marijuana legalization is becoming more popular and more widespread, and a large number of states have also embarked on other drug reform policies, such as reducing harsh sentencing practices. On the other hand, the federal government under the Trump administration appears determined to move aggressively backward on drug reform.

"We cannot allow fearmongering, ignorance, and dishonesty about drugs to drive policy in the United States," said McFarland Sánchez-Moreno. "At this critical time, the Drug Policy Alliance's mission of educating the public and policymakers, and advocating for a rational, compassionate approach to drugs, is more important than ever"

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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