By Amanda Reiman

It was the typical conference setting, a brightly lit, very cold room with chairs arranged in rows in front of the stage. The crowd hurried to grab another dose of caffeine from the always-available coffee in the back of the room and took their seats.

The speakers graced the stage, took their place and began to talk about their experiences of selling drugs. They spoke in a matter of fact way and described the techniques they used for providing illicit substances to their communities while practicing harm reduction and trying to be community leaders. Some regretted their activities, others stood by them.

Over the next 90 minutes, I had a glimpse into a world I had only known through sensationalized television and media reports. Slowly, over those 90 minutes, propaganda was replaced with reality, and it changed me, for the better.

This is why the Drug Policy Alliance’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference is unique, and a vital part of dismantling the war on drugs. While most conferences present thinkers and observers as the sole voices of the issue at hand, Reform invites those with lived experiences to take part.

I have a PhD in social welfare and was a post-doctoral fellow in public health, but I do not have the insight of someone who has been impacted by our racist drug policies and the life altering power that they have. And, the truth is, no amount of study or reading can replace the voices of those who have lived these experiences.

No matter how much you think you know about drugs and the policies that attempt to control them, Reform will teach you something new.

Marijuana has been on the tip of the tongue of the American public for a while now and public support for legalization surpasses 50 percent. While the media has focused on the tax revenue and financial benefits of legalization, how does this new regime impact those traditionally left out of burgeoning industries and most likely the target of police intervention? What are the criminal justice implications of legalization and how has legalization in states like Colorado and Washington impacted the greater effort to end the war on drugs?

These are some of the many issues to be discussed at this year’s conference, not just by professors, policy wonks and pundits, but by those on the ground in the thick of it. To create this rich environment, we relish the opportunity to work with some of the most progressive and innovative social justice reform organizations in the world.

I encourage those organizations to join as Reform Conference partners. Doing so increases the overall conference visibility and thus momentum around the movement.

Please, join us and have your own aha moment at Reform.

Click here to get more information about how to become a Reform Conference partner, please visit or contact jclapes [at] drugpolicy [dot] org (subject: International%20Drug%20Policy%20Reform%20Conference) (Jim Clapes) at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Amanda Reiman is the manager of marijuana law and policy for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Author: Amanda Reiman
Date Published: July 20, 2015
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Via:: Ddrug Policy Alliance