iOS app Android app

Gabriel Sayegh
gabriel sayegh is Managing Director of Policy and Campaigns and directs the New York State office of the Drug Policy Alliance, partnering with community organizing groups, human service agencies, and researchers to advance effective drug policies guided by science, equity and compassion. Recent campaigns include ending New York’s marijuana arrest crusade, developing municipal-based drug strategies, passing and implementing historic 911 Good Samaritan legislation to prevent accidental overdose fatalities, creating a tightly-regulated medical marijuana program, and reforming New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. He is the author of numerous articles and several reports, including Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy (the subject of a New York Times editorial) and From Handcuffs to Healthcare: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform.

sayegh joined DPA in 2003 and launched DPA’s innovative State Organizing and Policy Project in 2005. He directed the project until 2010, coordinating drug policy reform campaigns with local partners in numerous states, including Alabama, Connecticut and New York.

Prior to joining DPA, sayegh served as session staff in the Washington State Senate, focusing on criminal justice and social welfare policy; conducted research on global trade agreements and domestic welfare reform; organized with grassroots community groups on ending domestic violence and mass incarceration; and worked as a line cook at a few different diners. He lives in Brooklyn.

Entries by Gabriel Sayegh

Reform New York: Untangling the Future of Marijuana Policy in the Empire State

(2) Comments | Posted June 3, 2015 | 1:47 PM

What is the status of medical marijuana in New York? How can one get a medical card or a dispensary license? When will New York end its racially biased marijuana arrest crusade? Will New York tax and regulate marijuana more broadly for adult use, like Colorado and Washington?


Read Post

A New Approach That Unwinds the Drug War and Produces Dramatic Reductions in Recidivism

(3) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 10:37 AM

One of the most innovative reforms in the country is one you've probably never heard of. That's about to change, because Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is transforming the national discussion about how to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

LEAD began in Seattle 2011, a bold new...

Read Post

The Movement Builders: Lorenzo Jones and Robert Rooks

(0) Comments | Posted February 20, 2015 | 4:58 PM

Every movement for justice and freedom has within it skillful organizers who, while often behind the scenes, are instrumental to movement-building. For instance, so much defining work of the Civil Rights Movement can be traced to organizers like Ella Baker and Bayard Rustin. This week, we recognize two organizers who,...

Read Post

From Ferguson to Staten Island, Justice and Accountability Are Nowhere in Sight

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2014 | 6:05 PM

In New York City yesterday, a grand jury failed to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in Staten Island.

The grand jury decision isn't just disappointing, it's downright alarming.

Grand juries aren't supposed to find innocence or guilt - they're supposed to decide whether there is enough evidence to...

Read Post

What Health Care Reform Could Mean for Drug Policy and Mass Incarceration

(1) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 5:35 PM

What does the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mean for drug policy? The impact could be transformative, if reformers seize the moment. A new issue brief -- From Handcuffs to Healthcare -- published by DPA and the ACLU outlines how the ACA could help our country end the war...

Read Post

Ending the New Jim Crow: Mapping New Drug Policies in NYC

(6) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 4:36 PM

Earlier this month, New Yorkers elected the self-described progressive -- Bill de Blasio -- as mayor. Now, thanks to an innovative collaboration by foundations and community groups, New Yorkers are engaged in shaping the transition process for the new administration. Talking Transition is an "open conversation about the...

Read Post

Is Cuomo Still Committed to Fixing New York's Broken Marijuana Possession Law?

(5) Comments | Posted May 21, 2013 | 5:45 PM

In January of this year, during his 2013 State of the State speech, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a bold call to stop discrimination in New York. "We are one New York, and as one New York we will not tolerate discrimination," he said. He noted the "challenge posed by the...

Read Post

40 Years Later: Drug Policy in New York After the Rockefeller Drug Laws

(6) Comments | Posted May 8, 2013 | 4:17 PM

The start of the war on drugs, while generally attributed to President Nixon's declaration in 1971, actually took on its present-day form 40 years ago today -- May 8, 1973. That's when Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signed his eponymous drug laws, implementing a policy regime of criminalization and marking the start...

Read Post

Marijuana Arrests in NYC Cost One Million Police Hours

(5) Comments | Posted March 20, 2013 | 12:18 PM

A new report released today by the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Arrest Research Project documents the astonishing number of hours the New York City Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests over the last 11...

Read Post

New York Legislators and Community Groups Hold Urgent Rally to Reform State's Broken Marijuana Possession Law

(12) Comments | Posted March 12, 2013 | 11:06 AM

Today, the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus will gather in the state capitol to demand a fix to New York's broken marijuana possession law. They'll be joined by dozens of advocates and impacted people from around the state who are calling on Gov. Cuomo...

Read Post

Gov. Cuomo Calls for Reform: Marijuana Arrests That 'Stigmatize and Criminalize... Must End Now'

(52) Comments | Posted January 9, 2013 | 9:59 PM

In his State of the State address on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a passionate call to reform New York's marijuana possession laws in order to reduce the enormous number of unlawful, biased, and costly arrests. The governor noted the discrepancy in the law between public and private possession of...

Read Post

Saving Lives By Calling for Help: Overdose and Bon Jovi's Daughter

(112) Comments | Posted November 14, 2012 | 8:29 PM

Earlier today, Stephanie Bongiovi, daughter of acclaimed rocker Jon Bon Jovi, was arrested in Kirkland, NY after overdosing on heroin. A student at Hamilton College, Bongiovi was found by emergency personnel in her dorm room, unresponsive but alive. When police arrived, they arrested Bongiovi and another Hamilton student,...

Read Post

Gov. Cuomo Signs Law to Help Reduce Overdose Deaths

(9) Comments | Posted July 24, 2011 | 3:53 PM

A national crisis has emerged as the number of overdose deaths from both legal and illegal drugs has skyrocketed. Now New York is taking action to stem the crisis.

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed bipartisan legislation to reduce preventable overdose fatalities, making New York the most...

Read Post

Voters Care About Drug Policies, Not Past Drug Use

(6) Comments | Posted August 16, 2010 | 12:29 PM

There's a change occurring in American politics: Candidates are being more open about past drug use -- and not just marijuana. More politicians are coming clean about their past experimentation with other illegal drugs, including cocaine.

Four of the six candidates for New York attorney general confessed to past drug...

Read Post

Smart Solutions to Overdose Can Save Lives

(0) Comments | Posted July 30, 2010 | 1:15 PM

A string of high profile celebrity deaths -- including Heath Ledger and Corey Haim -- have focused attention on accidental drug overdose as a national issue, but New Yorkers need little reminder of the crisis. Accidental overdose deaths in communities from Buffalo to Long Island have spurred discussions about how...

Read Post

Censored: Ad Criticizing Mayor Bloomberg for Out of Control Marijuana Arrest Policy is "Too Controversial"

(150) Comments | Posted May 4, 2010 | 1:51 PM

Driving along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), you'll see advertisements for just about everything, including alcohol, strip clubs and casinos. But there's one ad you won't see: a rejected billboard highlighting Mayor Bloomberg's marijuana arrests policies in New York City.

Most New Yorkers don't know that last year, the...

Read Post

New York City's Massive Marijuana Arrests

(6) Comments | Posted August 26, 2009 | 12:23 PM

New York City remains the marijuana arrest capital of the world, according to an upcoming report by Queens College Professor Harry Levine. In 1993, there were only 900 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana, while 40,000 people were arrested in 2008--mostly young Black and Latino men. Dr. Levine...

Read Post