Basic Organization Information
Drug Policy Alliance
- Also Known As:
- Physical Address:
New York, NY
- Web URL:
- NTEE Category:
R Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy
R01 Alliance/Advocacy Organizations
E Health—General & Rehabilitative
E01 Alliance/Advocacy Organizations
F Mental Health, Crisis Intervention
F01 Alliance/Advocacy Organizations
- Year Founded:
- Ruling Year:
The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies, but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.
Impact Summary from the Nonprofit
<p>While a much broader national discussion on drug policy reform is needed, we do believe there are steps that can and should be taken immediately to reduce the harms associated with both drug use and our failed policies:</p>
<div>Eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana, except those involving distribution of drugs to children, and make marijuana legally accessible for medical purposes. <br /></div><br /></li><li>
<div>Redirect government drug control priorities from criminal justice and interdiction to public health and education, and repeal mandatory-minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses. <br /></div><br /></li><li>
<div>Support sensible harm reduction measures, including syringe access to reduce infectious diseases, and effective addiction treatment including maintenance therapies. <br /></div><br /></li><li>
<div>Curtail drug testing not related to detecting impairment and facilitate effective, reality-based drug education for teens.</div><br /></li><li>
<div>Restore constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.</div></li></ul>
<p>This statement of objectives should not be regarded as comprehensive, but rather as components of a rational drug policy not based upon fear, prejudice or punitive prohibitions.<br /></p>
Mr. Ethan Nadelmann
Ethan Nadelmann is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. He received his BA, JD, and PhD from Harvard and a Masters degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He then taught politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994, where his speaking and writings on drug policy -- in publications ranging from Science and Foreign Affairs to American Heritage and National Review -- attracted international attention and led to his founding of The Lindesmith Center, a drug policy institute. He also authored the book, Cops Across Borders, the first scholarly study of the internationalization of U.S. criminal law enforcement. Ethan Nadelmann is widely regarded as the outstanding proponent of drug policy reform both in the United States and abroad.
<div> I'm often asked, "Who is this growing drug policy reform movement?"</div><div> </div><div>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.</div><div> </div><div>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 can't stand 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 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.</div><div> </div><div>We are Americans who are embarrassed and disgusted that our nation leads the world in incarceration. We are people from around the world who wish 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 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.<br /></div>
Board of Directors
Highest Paid Employees & Their Compensation
Mental Health, Substance Abuse
- Population Served:
The Drug Policy Alliance programs include our: Beyond Zero Tolerance Drug Education Project, Office of Legal Affairs, Office of National Affairs, State Organizing and Policy Project, Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, Drug Policy Alliance DC Metro Area, Drug Testing Fails Our Youth, as well as our media, website, online library, and New York library. We also work internationally on drug policy issues and sponsor a national biennial conference.
<p>Harm reduction is a public health philosophy that seeks to lessen the dangers that drug abuse and our drug policies cause to society. A harm reduction strategy is a comprehensive approach to drug abuse and drug policy. Harm reduction's complexity lends to its misperception as a drug legalization tool.</p>
<p>Although we urge young people to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, our national surveys show that many do not heed our warnings. To prevent adolescents who do experiment from falling into abusive patterns, we need to create fallback strategies that focus on safety. Putting safety first requires that we be careful to provide our young people with credible information and resources. We also need to teach our teenagers how to identify and handle problems with alcohol and other drugs—if and when they occur—and how to get help and support.</p>
<p>Join us at the Safety First Project in advocating for reality-based approaches to drug education at home and in school that foster open and honest dialogue around the risks and consequences of drug use. We also invite you to critically examine random student drug testing, an invasive policy that can erode relationships of trust between students and adults at school and unintentionally direct students to more dangerous behaviors.</p>
<p>Accidental drug overdose is now the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States for people ages 35-54, as well as a leading cause of injury-related death for people of all ages. <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/OverdoseReportMarch2009.pdf"></a></p>
<p>In June, 2009, The Drug Policy Alliance released a new report, <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/OverdoseReportMarch2009.pdf"><em>Preventing Overdose, Saving Lives</em></a> that assesses the crisis, examines policy solutions available and how such policies have been successfully implemented across the country. The report recommends a range of policy strategies from promoting “Good Samaritan” immunity laws that encourage people who are witnessing an overdose to call 911 without fear of arrest, to removing barriers to naloxone, a low cost drug that reverses opioid overdoses within three minutes of being administered.</p>
<p>DPA is working to help save lives by promoting these sensible solutions and creating better policy at the state and federal level. Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) recently introduced The Drug Overdose Reduction Act in June of 2009 to address this growing problem. In addition to introducing federal legislation and releasing <a href="http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/OverdoseReportMarch2009.pdf"><em>Preventing Overdose, Saving Lives</em></a>, Drug Policy Alliance recently initiated its Purple Ribbons for Overdose Prevention Campaign. This national effort to raise awareness about the urgency of the overdose crisis kicked off with launch of our Facebook Cause. Over 5000 members from around the world now share information and get involved in making a difference.</p>
Program Long-Term Success:
In fall of 2007, the DPA completed drafting and polling of a ballot initiative in California, known as the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, which if passed will be the single largest prison and sentencing reform in United States history.
Program Short-Term Success:
Program Success Monitored by:
Program Success Examples:
Expert Reviews and Comments
Evidence of Impact
The Drug Policy Alliance is lauded for its successful advocacy programs focusing on a range of drug criminalization issues including sentencing reform, harm reduction, and legalization.
The Drug Policy Alliance has many strengths that include their smart and innovative leaders, their emphasis on collaborating with other organizations, and their sincere and unwavering commitment to drug issues.
Areas for Improvement
Experts have recommended that the Drug Policy Alliance should improve their share of resources across the fifty states and should divest more attention to community education and collaboration with other drug policy reform organizations.