June 17 will mark forty years since President Richard Nixon, citing drug abuse as "public enemy No. 1," officially declared a "war on drugs." A trillion dollars and millions of ruined lives later, the war on drugs has proven to be a catastrophic failure.
The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, will host a press conference at 1pm on Thursday, June 16 at the Newseum in Washington D.C.
Elected officials such as Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Congressmembers John Conyers of Michigan, Jared Polis of Colorado and Maxine Waters of California, along with celebrities like Sonja Sohn (The Wire), will speak at the event and call for an exit strategy from the failed war on drugs.
This meeting will set the stage for the following national day of action. Dozens of events will be held throughout the country, including major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans.
These events come on the heels of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which released a groundbreaking report on June 2 calling for a paradigm shift in how our society deals with drugs, including decriminalization and allowing countries to experiment with models of legal regulation. The commission is comprised of international dignitaries including Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations; Richard Branson, entrepreneur, founder of the Virgin Group; and the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland. George P. Shultz and Paul Volcker are U.S. commissioners.
Day of Action events include:
"Some anniversaries provide an occasion for celebration, others a time for reflection, still others a time for action," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Forty years after President Nixon declared his war on drugs, we're seizing upon this anniversary to prompt both reflection and action. And we're asking everyone who harbors reservations about the war on drugs -- to join us in this enterprise.
Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)
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