Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

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

Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno

Main address

131 W. 33rd Street 15th Floor

New York, NY 10001 USA

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EIN

52-1516692

Cause area (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
General/Unspecified
Budget
$3,471,840

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

2017 number is higher than normal, as it includes 607 scholarships awarded for our biennial Reform Conference.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Goals and Objectives <br/><br/>While the Drug Policy Alliance addresses the wide range of social, political, and economic issues touched by the war on drugs, nearly all of our efforts fall under the following four substantive issue areas.<br/><br/>1. Reforming the criminal justice system. The war on drugs is the principal factor driving the unprecedented rate of incarceration in the United States. The Drug Policy Alliance seeks to reduce the number of people arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses. We advocate ending criminal penalties for drug possession; eliminating racial disparities in the application of drug laws; increasing judicial discretion and striking down mandatory minimum sentencing laws; and reforming parole and probation so people are not locked up for technical violations like failing a drug test. <br/><br/>2. Expanding public health interventions. The drug war treats drug use primarily as a criminal problem rather than a health issue, and this leads to unnecessary death, disease, and suffering. The Drug Policy Alliance seeks to empower public health approaches to help minimize the negative health consequences of drug use, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, overdose fatalities, and addiction. We support the expansion of syringe access programs, evidence-based drug treatment programs, overdose prevention measures, and other innovative programs that reduce the harms of drug use. <br/><br/>3. Ending marijuana prohibition. Marijuana prohibition is at the heart of the drug war. No other U.S. law is so brutally enforced yet deemed so unnecessary by the public. More than 800,000 people were arrested for marijuana last year, 95 percent just for simple possession. Arrests can lead to a number of collateral consequences, such as the loss of housing, children, financial aid for school, job opportunities, and social benefits and services. At the same time, polls have shown that 58 percent of Americans support ending marijuana prohibition. The Drug Policy Alliance advocates for the legal regulation of marijuana for adults, including access for medical purposes. <br/><br/>4. Promoting an effective approach to youth and drugs. Simplistic “just say no" zero-tolerance programs are not effective and contribute significantly to the schools-to-jails pipeline that has swelled the prison system and destroyed so many families over the past three decades. The Drug Policy Alliance promotes a realistic approach to teens and drugs. We stress that abstinence is the only way to avoid the dangers of drug use but recognize that complementary approaches – including access to effective treatment for those who need it – are required for the majority of teens who do use alcohol, cigarettes, and various prescription and illicit drugs.

The Drug Policy Alliance's strategy is three-fold: improving public policies through legislative advocacy, promoting our message through communications campaigns, and building a sustainable political movement for drug policy reform through funding and technical assistance to other organizations. We are most deeply involved in policy reform at the state level in California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York; at the local level in select municipalities in our priority states; and at the federal level. We are involved in more than a dozen other states through our support of allied organizations and campaigns, and over the years have engaged in a substantial majority of states. We are also supporting reform efforts in a number of countries in Latin America.

We 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, we have eight offices, about 65 staff, 35,000 dues-paying members, 300,000 subscribers to our online communications, and a growing track record of success at the local, state, and federal levels. Our budget this fiscal year is approximately $13 million. DPA is a 501c3 organization, and has a 501c4 affiliate to help with lobbying beyond the capacity of our h-election status.

The Drug Policy Alliance has an internal process in place to measure the success of our programs and campaigns. Working closely with the management team – comprised of the executive director, deputy directors of policy and finance, and the managing directors of communications and development – program directors develop annual work plans based on the outcomes from previous years and our subsequent policy goals and tactical objectives for the coming year. Every two weeks our program directors write brief memos outlining the accomplishments and challenges over the past two weeks. This helps the management team, as well as other program staff, stay abreast of our progress and figure out ways to be more effective and efficient. We receive reports from our lobbying consultants to help us analyze political situations and figure out how they affect our policy proposals and our strategy moving forward. Ongoing feedback from the organizations we collaborate with also informs our work. <br/><br/>The ultimate metric of success is the passage of our policy goals – as well as their successful implementation. But given the many steps necessary to achieve these goals, we see incremental success as meeting the key benchmarks of our activities: introduction of legislation; movement of bills through committees; passage of bills on the floor; signing the bills into law; government agencies moving forward with new law. We also track ongoing process outcomes, including the amount of contact we have with particular policymakers; testimony given by us or people we bring; press coverage we generate; action taken by our membership; organizations signed onto our campaigns; and so on.

Latest Examples:<br/><br/>Marijuana Reform:<br/><br/>On Election Day in November 2014, Oregon and Alaska voters made their states the third and fourth in the nation to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. DPA's sister organization, Drug Policy Action, was the single largest donor to the Oregon campaign and was deeply involved in the measure's drafting and on-the-ground campaign. The Drug Policy Alliance and Drug Policy Action also played a leadership role and provided significant financial assistance for Washington, D.C.'s successful campaign to legalize marijuana: DPA's Dr. Malik Burnett co-chaired the campaign, and Drug Policy Action coordinated voter contact and coalition building in support of victory. DPA is currently advising on the drafting of the regulations. Passage of these initiatives accelerates the nationwide momentum in favor of legalizing marijuana and ending the wider drug war.<br/><br/>Criminal Justice Reform:<br/><br/>On the heels of reforming the state's “three strikes" law in the 2012 election, Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 47, which changes six low-level, nonviolent offenses – including simple drug possession – from felonies to misdemeanors. With its retroactive sentencing and expungement provisions, the impact of Prop 47 in California on wasteful corrections spending and individual lives will be profound and surely resonate across the country. DPA's lobbying arm, Drug Policy Action, supported this initiative with assistance on its drafting, as well as financial and other support for the campaign.<br/><br/>Harm Reduction:<br/><br/>DPA has worked across the country to pass 911 Good Samaritan laws to curtail preventable overdose deaths. New Jersey was the most recent state to pass this lifesaving legislation in a bill which also expanded access to the opioid overdose antidote naloxone. 911 Good Samaritan laws encourage people who witness an overdose to call 911 by providing them limited legal protection from drug possession charges. DPA has also been responsible for 911 Good Samaritan laws in California and New York, as well as the first 911 Good Samaritan law in the U.S., which was passed in New Mexico in 2007.<br/><br/>In January 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a syringe access bill into law, allowing over-the-counter syringe sales and expanding statewide syringe access. DPA's New Jersey office was instrumental in passing this life-saving legislation, which will reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases.

Financials

Drug Policy Alliance
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Operations

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

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Drug Policy Alliance

Board of directors
as of 5/22/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ira Glasser

Former Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

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

Keywords

Drug policy, racial justice, social justice, public health, human rights, civil liberties, drug treatment, marijuana, drug testing, teenagers, harm reduction, needle exchange, drug education, grassroots organizing, New Mexico, New Jersey, California, Washington D.C., race, criminal justice, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, public policy, advocacy, addiction, New York, prison reform, prohibition, entheogens, drug, methamphetamine, sentencing reform