Friday, November 11, 2005

International Drug Pollicy Alliance Conference report

I'm here in Long Beach at the International Drug Policy Alliance conference. It's been activity packed and a total blast. Since I don't have time write a proper post, I'm snitching one from an e-mail sent out by DRCNet:

The DRCNet contingent is among nearly a thousand people who have showed up for what is the largest drug policy reform conference in US history. While there are a lot of familiar faces, there are also a lot of new ones. Treatment providers are rubbing shoulders with pot people, corrections employees are listening to plans to attack the United Nations anti-drug conventions.

It's all going on under a heavy police presence, but it's the kind we like: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is out in large numbers, with their trademark "Cops Say Legalize Drugs. Ask Me Why" t-shirts being worn in large numbers. Among their ranks and proudly sporting the t-shirt was Seattle's former police chief, Norm Stamper, author of "Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing" {I'm another person who's sporting this t-shirt~Myst0nia}

As the event's title suggests, it's not just Americans in Long Beach. Dozens of Latin American activists, including a sizeable group of Mexicans are here. The Latin American and Caribbean anti-prohibitionist umbrella group, REFORMA, is here. A like
number of Europeans have made it across the Atlantic, too, including representatives of the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (, the British reform group Transform (,the International Antiprohibitionist League
(, and a claque of Dutch drug policy experts and reformers. Our neighbors to the north are also present in larger numbers than ever, with the Canadian contingent ranging from government employees to hard-core activists.

The main complaint being heard about the conference is having to miss one fascinating panel to see another -- 26 separate panels or roundtables met on Thursday alone. In addition to a well-attended marijuana panel, conferees had to choose from panels on citizen lobbying, ayahuasca, speaking tours, preventing overdose deaths, voting rights, Dutch drug policy, Latinos, and the student drug reform movement. And that was all before lunch.

Like everyone else, we're busy sucking up as many presentations as humanly possible and talking to all sorts of people in the hallways. Look for a full report on the conference next week when Drug War Chronicle resumes.


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