I've often felt in years past that our struggle to end the drug war is relentlessly uphill. But that's changing now, sometimes more quickly than even I can believe. The principal reason is us, by which I mean every person who grasps the lunacy of drug policies in this country and throughout much of the world, and who takes some action -- no matter how small -- to advance a better way.
It's time now for DPA -- the Drug Policy Alliance -- to launch a new organizational identity that fully expresses each of our roles as agents of change.
This change represents the once-unimaginable progress that you and I have made over the past decade to bring drug policy reform that much closer to the tipping point. Now is the time to make drug policy reform more personal -- creating an even greater sense of moral urgency, connecting the dots with more allies, and building on the common interests of everyone who makes up this movement. We can keep chipping away at the drug war but it won't really end until a critical mass of people, communities and elected officials demand a new way of dealing with drugs in our society. That's why we are the Drug Policy Alliance.
I'm often asked, "Who is this growing drug policy reform movement?"
We vary, of course, in what brings us to this cause. We are people who care about fundamental freedoms, civil liberties and human rights. We are people who care about social and economic justice. We are people who want to end racism. We are people who want addiction treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice problem. We are people who want honest drug education for our youth that fosters trust rather than fear. And every one of us -- no matter our reason -- believes that the war on drugs is not the way to deal with the reality of drugs in our society. That's why we are the Drug Policy Alliance.
We come from across the drug use spectrum. We are people who consume drugs responsibly, who don't cause problems for anyone else, and who resent being treated as criminals. We are people who hate drugs and who have seen the worst that drugs can do -- the addiction, disease, death and destruction of families -- but who nonetheless believe that the war on drugs is doing far more harm than good. And we are people who frankly don't care about drugs one way or the other -- but who do care about preserving the Bill of Rights and our constitutional liberties, who are disgusted by what our government is doing with our tax dollars, and who recoil at what the drug war is doing not just in the U.S. but in Latin America, Afghanistan and elsewhere. That's why we are the Drug Policy Alliance.
We come from across the drug law spectrum. We are people who have enforced these laws but now question them. We are people who have been punished by these laws and don't want others to suffer similarly. And we are people who have never encountered these laws directly but who nonetheless know that they are wrong. That's why we are the Drug Policy Alliance.
We are the people -- African American, Latino, young and poor -- who overwhelmingly bear the brunt of the war on drugs. And we are everyone else -- European and Asian American, not so young and not so poor -- who are stigmatized for our drug use, who live in fear, and who have suffered the many indignities and injustices of the drug war.
We are Americans who are embarrassed and disgusted that our nation leads the world in incarceration. And we are people from all around the world who wish that the U.S. -- and other governments as well -- would ground their drug policies in science, compassion, health and human rights. We are people who work tirelessly to advance the incremental drug policy reforms that can help people today and tomorrow, and we are the visionaries who never forget that our struggle is ultimately about changing the ways we deal with drugs in global society. That's why we are the Drug Policy Alliance.
To me, our new look and feel is about realizing and embracing the tremendous scope of our struggle. It's about facing the reality that lasting change can only be achieved by building on the common interests of as many people as possible.
We are the Drug Policy Alliance because only by working together can we end the failed war on drugs.
P.S. Today we're introducing a new video featuring Sting, George Soros and Montel Williams. Each of them -- like so many of us -- believes that our drug policies must be grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.
Ethan Nadelmann is the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. www.drugpolicy.org