FSDP at the 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference

Families for Sensible Drug Policy (FSDP) was excited to be a part of the 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference November 18-21 in the Washington DC metro area.

Convened bi-annually by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), this year’s Reform Conference was the biggest ever, bringing together 1500 people from over 70 countries. FSDP had an exhibit table sponsored by Practical Recovery, offering us the opportunity to educate attendees about our work and connect with national and global organizations to explore collaboration possibilities.

DPA’s Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann’s keynote speech acknowledged the drug policy reform movement’s progress so far and challenged us to raise the bar by framing the drug policy reform movement as first and foremost a human rights movement. Co-founder Carol Beyer and I came away from the conference with a clearer understanding about the need for FSDP to continue projects that will reduce the harmful consequences of the drug war on our communities by  the effects on our communities that include the intersection of mass incarceration, poverty, race, class, and gender.

A highlight for us was attending National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW)‘s Community Session where Executive Director Lynn Paltrow and her staff shared their work protecting the rights of women whose lives and their families were destroyed by oppressive drug policies. We learned how some child welfare systems participate in this destruction by incorrectly correlating parenting ability and substance use.

12274220_1018266631530098_5459875104403438585_n

I had the honor of being on several panels, including the Youth Policy track panel, “What’s a Parent to Do When Youthful Experimentation Goes Awry”,  where I offered a harm reduction approach to parenting teens to and audience of stakeholders including parents, healthcare and educational professionals, and drug policy advocates. (at left)

11041095_1201694879847149_8234006082981402586_nWe were asked to participate on a panel at the screening of the film “The Business of Recovery”,  (with the film’s producer Greg Horvath, at right) which reveals how the treatment industry in the United States preys on addicts and families as commodities to make profit from by filling beds with outdated and ineffective treatment approaches.

12249884_10205230064253502_4263772189323238639_nIMG_1817Co-Founder Carol Katz Beyer and I had a pre-panel pow-wow with Jerry Otero, DPA’s Youth Policy Manager (at right); and harm reduction pioneer Patt Denning, co-author of Over The Influence (at left) stopped by our exhibit booth to exchange ideas on ways to get more harm reduction strategies into the hands of our families.

FSDP hosted a Community Session, “Bringing Communities Together: Family-Centered Harm Reduction and Drug Policy for the 21st Century” and participated in the “Mental Health and Substance Use Treatment Providers for Sensible Drug Policy Town Hall Meeting”, hosted by Dr. Andrew Tatarsky and Douglas Greene. It was an opportunity for us to expand our network of advocates and begin to develop strategic partnerships that include those living and working in underserved and marginalized communities.