Drug Policy Alliance

aka DPA   |   New York, NY   |  www.drugpolicy.org

Mission

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.

Ruling year info

1988

Executive Director

Kassandra Frederique

Main address

131 W. 33rd Street 15th Floor

New York, NY 10001 USA

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EIN

52-1516692

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Policy And Legal Affairs

Grassroots lobbying, political consulting, and the drafting and promotion of legislation.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of list subscribers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

2016 number is no longer available on Facebook to report.

Total number of grants awarded

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

2019 and 2017's numbers are higher than normal because they include 450 and 607 scholarships awarded at our biennial Reform Conference, respectively.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has a clarion mandate – to end the war on drugs and create a new world with drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. We are ambitious risk-takers and unrelenting advocates with radical imaginations, fighting to change hearts and minds and center justice, dignity, and the communities most impacted.

-- Ending Punishment and Reforming the Criminal Legal System

The criminalization of personal drug use is the foundation on which the war on drugs stands. The criminalization of drug possession enables law enforcement to harass, prosecute, deport, incarcerate, and even justify killing people – disproportionately Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and people of color. Because of targeted policing, Black people are three times more likely to be arrested for drug use than white people, despite using at the same rate. The drug war is the pretext to destroying lives – as we saw with Breonna Taylor, Andrea Circle Bear, George Floyd, and so many others.

DPA seeks to decriminalize the possession of all drugs for personal use and to replace the current model of criminalization and policing with one focused on providing support, harm reduction, and access to treatment and services for people struggling with substance use disorders. At the same time, we want to broaden the discussion around punishment and expose its impacts beyond the criminal legal system. As other systems have assumed the role of drug war enforcement, they perpetrate many other harms to people and families beyond arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.

-- Building Alternatives and Improving Health and Harm Reduction Services

The overemphasis on criminalization has distorted systems of care for people struggling with problematic drug use, contributing to an acute shortage of services for those who need and want them. The dramatic rise in overdose is rooted in criminalization, which drives drug use underground and makes it less likely people will access assistance. It is estimated that overdose killed more than 90,000 people in 2020, a staggering increase over the previous year. Moreover, many available services rely on surveillance and coercion, functioning less as compassionate public health interventions and more as punitive criminal legal controls.

DPA promotes harm reduction policies and health interventions to prevent drug overdose deaths and other negative health outcomes associated with problematic drug use and prohibition – dovetailing with our efforts to reduce the impact of criminalization and punishment. We are unique in its expertise in both criminal legal reform and alternative public health interventions. We also call attention to the overdose crisis happening in communities of color that has largely been overlooked by the mainstream narrative.

Changing policies: We build campaigns – crafting policy proposals grounded in evidence, researching effective messages, developing political strategies, educating policymakers and lobbying, and mobilizing our base and network of supporters – to enact meaningful reforms on the federal, state, and local levels.

Shaping the conversation: We promote new analyses and ideas about drug policy, including its intersection with so many other critical issues of the day, and shift common narratives that perpetuate harm and stigma.

Providing thought leadership: We share our ambitious north star vision for drug policies grounded in anti-racism, evidence, and compassion, and help shape the strategies and dreams of fellow criminal legal and health advocates, movement leaders, policymakers, and funders.

Building power: We support organizing among communities of people who use drugs and those most impacted by existing drug policies, with a focus on those living on the margins, and lend a hand to the expansion of their political power and to the impact on the policies that affect them most.

Forging new partnerships: We ally with activists, policymakers, academics and researchers, and other organizations working across movements who can multiply the impact of our work and stand to benefit from our gains, as we ensure our policy proposals are inclusive of the needs of people and other sectors.

DPA formed in 2000 when The Lindesmith Center, an activist drug policy institute established in 1994 as the Open Society Institute's first U.S. project, merged with the Drug Policy Foundation, a membership and grant-making organization established in 1987.

Today, DPA has more than 40 staff positions across three states and Washington, D.C., 12,000 members, and 275,000 subscribers to our online communications.

Our staff are leading experts in health, human rights, and the criminal legal system, and we have a strong and growing track record of success at the municipal, state, and federal levels.

Our budget this fiscal year is approximately $12 million. We also have a 501c4 partner organization, Drug Policy Action.

DPA has played a pivotal role in transforming the national conversation about drug policy and has moved vital issues from the fringes of U.S. politics to the mainstream – like legalizing cannabis, ending mass incarceration, and prioritizing health and harm reduction responses to drug use. Because of our work, there are tens of thousands fewer people behind bars and hundreds of thousands who either did not go to jail or prison, or who spent less time there. Tens of thousands of people who use drugs have been able to access the health and harm reduction interventions that we played a pivotal role in establishing and expanding.

Highlights from 2020 and early 2021:

- Oregon Measure 110, our groundbreaking all-drug decriminalization and treatment initiative, was a transformative victory, with an extraordinary margin of 58.5% to 41.5%, ending criminal penalties for the personal possession of all drugs – for the first time ever in the United States.

- The MORE Act, drafted by DPA, passed the House in December, marking the first time a chamber of Congress has ever voted on and approved legislation that deschedules cannabis and centers reparative justice.

- Winning our long-fought legislative campaigns to legalize cannabis for adult use in New York and New Mexico.

- Winning adult-use cannabis legalization ballot initiatives in New Jersey (where DPA has worked for nearly 20 years), South Dakota (which also passed a medical cannabis initiative), and Montana. In the Deep South, Mississippi approved a medical cannabis measure that we supported.

- In New York, passing the Safer New York Act – a package of bills that included the repeal of Section 50-A, which had been used to hide police misconduct, and other measures to address biased policing that targets people who use drugs – alongside the Communities United for Police Reform coalition.

- Launching a distance learning version of Safety First: Real Drug Education for Teens, the nation’s first harm reduction-based drug education curriculum for high school students, parents, and teachers.

- In Congress, eliminating the “drug question” from the federal student aid application that had denied so many people from higher education – and reinstating Pell Grants for educational opportunities for people who are incarcerated.

- Securing first-time funding of $30M explicitly for harm reduction service providers in early 2021’s federal pandemic relief bill.

Financials

Drug Policy Alliance
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Drug Policy Alliance

Board of directors
as of 9/14/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Derek Hodel

Jason Flom

Chairman and CEO, Lava Records

Christine Downton

Vice Chairman, Pareto Partners

Rev. Edwin Sanders

Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church Coordinator, Religious Leaders for a More Compassionate and Just Drug Policy

George Soros

Chairman, Soros Management Fund

Ira Glasser

Former Executive Director, ACLU

Jodie Evans

Co-founder, CODEPINK

Pamela Lichty M.P.H

Vice President, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

James Ferguson, II

Senior Partner, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers Law Offices

Ken Hertz

Senior Partner, Goldring, Hertz, Lichtenstein & Haft, LLP

David Lewis

Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University

Angela Pacheco

1st Judicial District, New Mexico

Josiah Rich

The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Ilona de Carvalho

Igarapé Institute

Derek Hodel

Independent Consultant

Joy Fishman

Harm Reduction Advocate

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/02/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data