Sunday, November 15, 2009

Report from the International Drug Policy Reform Conference - Day 1

This morning I woke up in Albuquerque, was in Denver at noon, and am now back in Austin.

For the past three days I've been at the Drug Policy Alliance Reform conference and, as usual, it was an indescribable experience.

I landed at the Albuquerque International Sunport about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon and caught a city bus to the Hyatt Regency. After checking in I attended a Law Enforcement Against Prohibition training session.

On Thursday morning I was seated and waiting for the opening session, when I began to feel ill. I ended up in bed all day and missed the presentations for that day. I was feeling well enough at 6:00 to attend the Candlelight Vigil where a group stood in solidarity to end the War on Drugs.

Speakers included:
After the vigil, I went with friends to a screening of 10 Rules for Dealing with Police, written by Steven Silverman of Flex Your Rights. The new video builds on Steven's 2004 video, BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters, and is designed to reach a more diverse audience.

When we arrived at the video venue, a question and answer session for the previous video was in progress. Hope and Health Hepatitis C and Addiction Treatment in New Mexico, was sponsored by the New Mexico Health Science Center's Project ECHO and the New Mexico Department of Health. I obtained a copy of the video with the intention of passing it on to our own Department of Health staff.

One of the best parts of the conference is always networking and meeting so many amazing people. Here are a couple I met on my first day:
  • Damien Nichols -Maryland Chapter of Americans for Safe Access, an organization that calls for "medication not incarceration."
  • Dr. Christopher G. Fichtner, a clinical psychiatrist and former Director of Mental Health for the State of Illinois, Department of Human Services (2003-2005). Dr. Fichtner has written a book called Cannabinomics that, "dissects the failure of American drug policy and charts a bright future for medicinal cannabis." It discusses medical marijuana from a Public Health view. Dr. Fichtner is supposed to send me a preview copy.
Here's a Day 1 report from another conference attendee.



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