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More Than 1,000 to Attend Landmark International Drug Policy Reform Conference in LA Nov 2-5

Drug Policy Alliance


CONTACT: Tony Newman, Tommy McDonald

Drug Policy Alliance to Host the 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, November 2-5

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Former NM Governor Gary Johnson to Join Calif. NAACP Head Alice Huffman, Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia, Rick Steves, Treatment Providers, Formerly Incarcerated People, Law Enforcement Officials, Half-Dozen Elected Officials, and a Thousand Other Participants to Promote Alternatives to the Failed War on Drugs

NO MORE DRUG WAR: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs at MacArthur Park on Thursday, November 3rd at 6 p.m.

LOS ANGELES—Will California, Washington State or Colorado vote to legalize marijuana in 2012? What are the solutions to the national overdose crisis that takes more lives than car accidents or gun violence? Why do blacks go to jail for drugs at 13 times the rate of whites even though they use and sell drugs at similar rates? What are the results of Portugal decriminalizing all drugs 10 years ago? What can be done about the 50,000 prohibition-related deaths in Mexico since President Calderon ramped up the Mexican drug war five years ago?

People will gather to answer these questions and many more at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, November 2-5. The Drug Policy Alliance is co-hosting the 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference with the ACLU, the Harm Reduction Coalition, 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, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. For a full list of partners, more information on the conference, and registration details: Visit http://www.reformconference.org/

In the past decade, voters and legislators have enacted more than 150 drug policy reforms on issues ranging from medical marijuana to treatment-instead-of-incarceration for nonviolent drug law violations. Building on the momentum from these victories, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former two-term Republican Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson, California NAACP director Alice Huffman, Mexican poet and movement leader Javier Sicilia, and travel writer Rick Steves will join more than 1,000 drug policy experts, health care and drug treatment professionals, a half-dozen 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.

For the first time in the Reform Conference’s two-decade-long history, there will be a mass public protest. It will acknowledge this year’s 40th anniversary of the war on drugs, demand health-centered alternatives, and celebrate this incredible, diverse movement. "No More Drug War: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs" is taking place Thursday, November 3rd at the Levitt Pavilion in historic MacArthur Park. The event will feature international reform leaders, live music, spoken word artists, and a host of gourmet food trucks.

There will be more than 50 panels and roundtable discussions at the conference – below is a small sampling. For the full list of panels, including descriptions and speakers, see: http://www.reformconference.org/program/sessions

State of the Movement: What’s it Going to Take to Make Marijuana Legal?

While support for making marijuana legal is growing rapidly and California’s Proposition 19 came close to win­ning last year, we still haven’t reached the tipping point. What can we expect to see on the ballot in 2012 and beyond? Leading advocates and political consultants will discuss what it will take to win at the state and national level, and share insights from the most extensive mari­juana reform public opinion research ever conducted.

Elected Officials: Hearing from our Representatives on Drug Policy Reform

Elected officials are pivotal to drug policy reform, yet they are often the last ones on board. What are the best arguments to use to persuade elected officials that drug use should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue? How can we build bipartisan coalitions for drug policy reform? How can we best support our elected allies as they fight for drug policy reform? And what are the lessons of recent legislative victories and defeats?

Innovative Approaches to Medical Marijuana Distribution and Services

Patients need improved access to high-quality medical marijuana, support services, and increased civil and legal protections. What are the obstacles? How are different jurisdictions and providers addressing these issues? And how do state and national leaders perceive this issue?

Know Your Rights: How to Deal with Law Enforcement and NOT Get Arrested  

The Bill of Rights provides each of us with certain inalienable rights. Flex Your Rights’ Know Your Rights training incorporates real-life scenarios designed for easy application during police encounters. Learn practical methods for retaining and protecting your rights during car stops, street encounters and when the police knock at your door.

Sex, Drugs, and Building a Movement

Sex workers and drug users are both criminalized for what we do with our bodies, yet we don’t always work together. What are the connections between the sex worker advocacy movement and the drug policy reform movement? How have the laws criminalizing drug use and drug users been adapted and used against sex workers? And how can we build stronger connections across these two movements to reach even larger victories?

Innovative Policy Responses to Overdose

The number of overdose deaths has climbed dramatically in the last decade, mostly because of prescription drugs. Accidental drug overdose is now the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Significant federal funding is directed toward preventing HIV/AIDS and homicide, but virtually no federal dollars are designated for overdose prevention – even though overdose kills more people than murder or HIV/AIDS. What is the significance of the successful passage of 911 Good Samaritan legisla­tion in several states, and the expansion of access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone? And what other effective policy responses are available to stem this easily prevent­able epidemic?

Making Sense of Drug Testing

Despite drug testing’s many limitations, it is used extensively in the criminal justice system, and its use is expanding into other areas such as driving under the in­fluence of drugs checkpoints and welfare eligibility. This panel will examine the scientific limits of drug testing, emerging trends in the use of these tests, and strategies to curtail their use.

The Portuguese Decriminalization Model in Global Context

Portuguese drug policy is widely heralded as an international model. How do we situate the Portuguese experience within a broader international context to examine its significance for European and global drug policy? Is Portugal a model that other countries can replicate? Should we be concerned about the Dutch back-tracking? What’s going on in Greece, where the Prime Minister recently introduced a decriminalization proposal? Is Denmark emerging as a new leader? And what’s the evolving role of the European Union?


Los Angeles, CA
United States

Mid-Atlantic Regional SSDP Conference

Our chapter at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA SSDP) will be hosting this year's Mid-Atlantic Regional SSDP Conferenceand would like to invite you to join us this weekend, October 21-22, 2011 in Woodbridge, VA for networking, training workshops, and expert presentations to help us refine our skills as advocates to end the war on drugs.

Speakers Include:

- Dianne Blais, Candidate Delegate for Virginia's 40th District, American Association of University Women Vice President for Public Policy
- Stacia Cosner, Associate Director, SSDP National Staff
- Sabrina Fendrick, NORML and NORML Women's Alliance Founder

- Aaron Houston, Executive Director, SSDP National Staff
- Brooke Napier, SSDP alumna & SSDP National intern
- Eric Sterling, Founder and President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

- Drew Stromberg, Regional Outreach Coordinator, SSDP National Staff
- Jasmine Tyler, Deputy Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance

This is the 2nd annual Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, bringing together SSDP chapter members, alumni, supporters and drug policy reform experts from several states on the east coast. Students, alumni, and non-students are welcome to attend, feel free to forward this invite to any interested friends or colleagues. More details and updates will be posted on the Facebook event page. 

Please register today.  See you in Woodbridge!

Drew Stromberg
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
1317 F Street NW, Suite 501
Washington DC, 20004

Fri, 10/21/2011 - 12:00pm - Sun, 10/23/2011 - 4:00pm
Woodbridge, VA 20164
United States

No Justice, No Peace: Drugs, Race and Growing Up (London)

Students for Sensible Drug Policy London presents No Justice, No Peace: Drugs, Race and Growing Up. 

In celebration of Black History Month, SSDP London will be hosting a seminar looking at the impact of our current drug policies on BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) communities. The event will look at how BME people are affected by drug use and the war on drugs. 

Issues such as the link between criminalisation of communities and the recent riots in London will be explored. 

The event will be chaired by Nelson Abbey, a writer for the Voice who recently called for an end to the drug war. 

Guest speakers include:

Viv Ahmun 

Viv Ahmun has many years of experience providing drug services to BME communities. He is currently a senior partner at Coreplan UK, a leadership consultancy which develops and nurtures partnerships specialising in the social care and criminal justice sector.

Ras Binghi Congo-Nyah

Ras Binghi Congo-Nyah is an international ombudsman for the Rastafari way of Life, and director of two small companies: Lions Den Fam and Zion Networks. He has spoken on the topic of Rastafari and Herbs for Wandsworth Council, Connexions, Tooting Hub Community Centre and various youth multifaith events. 

Deborah Peterson Small (Via Skype)

Deborah Peterson Small is the Founder and Executive Director of Break the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs. Before founding Break the Chains, Deborah was Director of Public Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance where she led a number of community initiatives for drug policy reform. She became an ardent advocate for drug policy reform as she became increasingly aware of the grossly disproportionate number of BME people incarcerated for drug offences. 



Thu, 10/20/2011 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Room VG06, School of Oriental and African Studies, Vernon Square, Penton Rise
London, LND
United Kingdom

Healing & Hope: A Celebration (DC)

Tickets are available for: 

On Tuesday, November 1, 2011, the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth will honor individuals whose stories of compassion and forgiveness inspire our work to end the practice of sentencing youth to life without parole.    

Please note:  Tickets will not be sold at the door, you must buy your ticket for this event by Friday, October 21st.


November 1, 2011

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM 

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom

700 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005


Keynote Speaker:  Bryan Stevenson

Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative 


Click here for more information.


Sponsorships are also available, contact James Puzo at 202-289-4672 or [email protected] for more information.    

Our gracious honorary committee members include:

Charles Dutton, Emmy Award-winning Actor and Director

Peter Edelman, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center

Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund 

Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

David Keene, Former chair of the American Conservative Union

Laura Murphy, American Civil Liberties Union

Pat Nolan, Prison Fellowship

Dr. Charles Ogletree, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice, Harvard Law School

Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Louisiana, 2nd District

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland and Board member of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights

Tommy Wells, District of Columbia City Councilman, Ward 6

If you are unable to attend our special reception please consider making a charitable donation to the CFSY.


Tue, 11/01/2011 - 6:30pm - 8:30pm
700 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
United States

Founding Statement: The European Network of People Who Use Drugs

On Wednesday 5th October, European drug user activists from 10 countries (1) met in Marseille to discuss the development of drug user organising. The meeting reviewed and discussed the interim findings of an audit of drug user organising in Europe. The meeting also took the important decision to form a European Network of People who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD).

The meeting recognised that Europe has a long and proud tradition of both harm reduction and drug user organising. Drug user activists have contributed to this positive history as advocates, watchdogs and innovators. The positive benefits of this history in terms of harm reduction provision and the promotion of drug user rights needs to be defended in many parts of Europe and initiated in those areas where it is far from established. At the same time, EuroNPUD welcomes the introduction of such new harm reduction innovations, such as consumption rooms and heroin assisted treatment (HAT) in certain countries and commits to promoting these approaches across Europe in partnership with our harm reduction allies.

EuroNPUD notes that Europe is also home to a range of drug policy initiatives whose results are creating great excitement and interest. EuroNPUD will make drug law reform advocacy and campaigning a particular focus of its work over the next two years.

EuroNPUD is developing an online directory of drug user groups and we invite other European drug user groups to contribute to this living resource. We hope this will support better networking and understanding of the positive contribution of activist drug users in Europe. We call on other European drug user groups to endorse and join this exciting and important new initiative. We have also prioritised reaching out to the younger generation of people who use drugs to secure the future of our network.

We would like to thank the EU for funding this important initiative and commend our harm reduction partners EuroHRN for recognising the importance of the meaningful participation of people who use drugs and we look forward to continuing our collaboration together.

1. Portugal, Spain, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Romania, Albania,

Mat Southwell
International Network of People who Use Drugs

Marseille, U13

Announcement: The 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, LA

StoptheDrugWar.org (DRCNet) is pleased to be a partner in the upcoming 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference, this November 2-5 at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles.

The Reform Conference, sponsored by our friends at the Drug Policy Alliance, is the major biennial gathering of drug policy reformers of all kinds. The last one, held in Albuquerque in 2009, brought together over 1,000 attendees representing 30 different countries. This year attendees will have the opportunity to spend three days interacting with people committed to finding alternatives to the war on drugs while participating in sessions given by leading experts from around the world. Click here to register -- early bird rates are available through September 16, and discounts are available for students.

Some testimonials from the 2009 conference:

"You leave the conference inspired and informed. Meeting this crowd of wise, energetic kindred spirits recharges your reform batteries."
--Michael Jourdan, Centre of Alcohol and Drug Research, Copenhagen, Denmark

"This is the only conference that combines X-treme intelligence, passion, and practical applications. It is the best I ever attend."
--Patt Denning, Harm Reduction Therapy Center, San Francisco, California

"A living breathing think tank of like minds, crafting out solutions that keep people's dignity and human rights intact."
--Waheedah Sahabzz-El, Community HIV / AIDS Mobilization Project, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"This conference provided a new beginning for me, I now have a true passion for DPR."
--Susanne Widmer, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"The Reform Conference gave me the courage to return to my Canadian community and give voice to the common sense of Drug Policy Reform. The experience provided me with the evidence, language and tools to be a credible, educated leader in changing the way we approach the issue of substance use in our community."
--Patty Hajdu, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Hope to see you there.

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Patient Advocates Accuse Obama of Hypocritical, Aggressive Policy on Medical Marijuana


Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release: 
October 7, 2011
Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes or ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford

Patient Advocates Accuse Obama of Hypocritical, Aggressive Policy on Medical Marijuana
Millions of taxpayer dollars spent undermining state and local medical marijuana laws

Sacramento, CA -- The Obama Justice Department (DOJ) held a press conference in Sacramento today announcing an array of enforcement actions against medical marijuana producers and distributors as well as landlords throughout California. Patient advocates are calling President Obama's enforcement effort harmful and unnecessary, representing a stark contradiction to his pledge of disengagement in medical marijuana states. The DOJ claimed it was carrying out civil and criminal enforcement actions against medical marijuana providers and sending "warning" letters to property owners leasing to dispensary operators.

"Aggressive tactics like these are a completely inappropriate use of prosecutorial discretion by the Obama Administration," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "President Obama must answer for his contradictory policy on medical marijuana." On the campaign trial and in the White House, President Obama pledged that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws."

This attack is the latest in a long line of federal intimidation tactics employed over the past few months by such agencies as Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). President Obama's DOJ has conducted well over 150 federal raids in at least 7 states since taking office and his U.S. Attorneys sent letters earlier this year threatening local and state officials in 10 states with criminal prosecution if they adopted proposed medical marijuana laws.

By sending threatening letters to landlords, President Obama is taking a cue from his predecessor George W. Bush, whose Justice Department sent similar letters to more than 300 property owners throughout California in 2007. Despite the seriousness of letters sent by the DOJ under Bush, no criminal or forfeiture enforcement actions were ever pursued. It's unclear if the federal government has the resources or inclination to act on these new threats in a significant way, but for the price of postage they have engaged in wholesale intimidation of the medical marijuana community.

Advocates argue that states should be allowed to enforce their own public health laws, including those concerning medical marijuana. "It is unconscionable that the federal government would override local and state laws to enforce its will over the will of the people," said ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes. "States must be allowed to enforce their own laws without harmful interference from the Obama Administration." California Attorney General Kamala Harris was apparently not warned by the DOJ about the heightened federal enforcement effort before today.

The DOJ enforcement effort comes as hundreds of demonstrations against Wall Street are continuing to occur across the country. These protests are, at least in part, questioning the federal government's allocation of limited resources. Meanwhile, President Obama has chosen to expend federal resources to crack down on medical marijuana in states that have legalized its use. "By shutting down dispensaries, the Obama Administration is not only pushing legal patients into the illicit market," continued Hermes, "it's also wasting taxpayer dollars at a time of fiscal crisis."

Further information:
Redacted example of U.S. Attorney letter to landlords of California medical marijuana dispensaries: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/US_Attorney_Landlord_Letter.pdf

# # #

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

United States

"No More Drug War" Rally Update

Hey "No More Drug War" rally supporters,

One month until the historic “No More Drug War” rally and concert in MacArthur Park (Thurs, Nov 3)! An update follows, including several requests for help. Your primary contact to follow up on any of this is Alana Rodriguez (copied above). Thanks!


--Schedule: Folks will gather in MacArthur Park at 6:00 to eat (gourmet food trucks & Mama’s Hot Tamales), distribute signs, and network. The rally will start at 6:30; the concert will start at 7:30 and end by 9:00. (Buses from the conference will depart the Bonaventure Hotel at 5:30, returning to the hotel in waves, starting at the close of the rally.)

--Speakers: KPFK host and renowned artist LaloAlcaraz will emcee the event. Acclaimed poet Javier Sicilia, leader of the mass movement to end the drug war in Mexico, has agreed to address the rally.

--Performers: We will soon announce a local band to anchor the concert. Pete White of LA CAN is chairing a committee to select other local artists (spoken word, acoustic musicians, etc.). To participate in that committee or recommend local artists: [email protected]

--Signs: We will distribute hundreds of “No More Drug War” signs and encourage people to make and bring their own signs as well. If you would like to make signs for others, DPA will cover the expenses. Contact Alana for details.


--KPFKhas agreed to be the primary media sponsor. We have submitted calendar listings in every major mainstream outlet. Please let Alana know of community- or movement-based outlets that will promote this event.

--We have created a Facebook event page. Please RSVP and share the link: http://www.facebook.com/stephen.gutwillig#!/event.php?eid=278047215558009

--We are securing attendance commitments from every organization connected to DPA. You will hear from us to discuss your participation and how we can facilitate and incentivize the largest group possible.

--We will create a final digital and printed promotional piece for this event. Please let Alana know if you particularly want printed flyers to distribute.


Reform Conference registration is still available (http://www.reformconference.org/registration), and a nearly-final version of the schedule is online at http://www.reformconference.org/program/sessions.

See you next month!

Stephen Gutwillig | State Director, California
Drug Policy Alliance

The International Drug Policy Reform Conference

November 2-5, 2011 | Los Angeles, California | www.reformconference.org

No More Drug War: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs

November 3, 2011 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm | Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park, LA | www.nomoredrugwar.org/rally

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Gainesville Hemp Fest

Visit http://gvillehempfest.com for further information.

Sat, 11/05/2011 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Gainesville, FL
United States

Only One Month Left Until Drug Policy Reform Conference

The Reform Conference is just a month away – have you secured your spot yet?

Click here to register to attend.

If you haven’t, you should soon. Booking your travel a month out will save you money. And you won’t want to miss what former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom have to say at the Opening Plenary!

The rest of the conference program is packed full with trainings, roundtable discussions addressing controversies within the movement, and panels exploring and sharing innovative approaches to reform challenges. Thursday evening you can stand up for justice at the No More Drug War rally at nearby MacArthur Park, hosted by dozens of local California organizations and emceed by KPFK radio personality Lalo Alcaraz.

And the activities and highlights don’t stop there…

Very soon we’ll be announcing three special Mobile Workshops – learning sessions that will take a select group of conference-goers out of the hotel and into the local community.

You’re also invited to host informal Community Meetings of your own during the conference. These meetings are meant to be your opportunity to organize reformers around action plans. They take place in open session rooms in the mornings, evenings and at lunch.

What do these Mobile Workshops and Community Meetings have in common? They’re only available to registered conference attendees – and they’ll be limited by space availability!

So register now…and I’ll see you in Los Angeles!

Stefanie Jones
Event Manager
Drug Policy Alliance

Los Angeles, CA
United States

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