Selected Video from the 2015 International Drug Policy Reform Conference

2015 Reform Conference Highlights

More than 1,500 drug policy reformers went to Washington D.C. to advocate for an exit strategy from the war on drugs. The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) produced a short video featuring the best moments of the conference.

Opening Plenary

  • Earl Blumenauer is the member of the United States House Representative for Oregon’s 3rd congressional district, serving since 1996. He speaks about the progress that has been made in moving Marijuana reform forward. He tells attendees that we are “wasting lives, wasting resources, on a failed policy of prohibition.”
  • Hakeem Jeffries is the member of the United States House Representative for New York’s 8th congressional district in Brooklyn and Queens. He speaks about the negative repercussions of the War on Drugs and urges attendees that “it is time to end the failed War on Drugs once and for all.”
  • Kemba Smith Pradia, a national and international public speaker, tells attendees of her experience in the prison system. She speaks about how she was granted clemency by former President Bill Clinton and claims that while she is grateful, we need to fight for cases just like hers for those who deserve the same freedom.
  • Jason Hernandez, sentenced to imprisonment for non-violent drug offense, is the first Latino to receive clemency by President Obama. He speaks about how the War on Drugs is that of a War on Minorities, and states, “Mr. President, with all due respect, you need to do more.”
  • Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance speaks about the power the anti-drug war movement has gained, and the challenges and responsibilities that come with such power.

Closing Plenary

  • Vicki Hanson, PhD Candidate in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica speaks of the issue of social justice in changing the approach to addressing the failed war on drugs. 
  • Kurt Schmoke, President of the University of Baltimore and former Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland tells attendees that “if we can solve the problem internationally, we can save a lot of lives and help communities around the world.”
  • Juliana Willars, anthropologist and student at Texas State University, tells attendees,“I’m also here in the capacity of an indigenous activist because I’ve been in this movement since about 2004 actually, and during that time I have been waiting for indigenous voices to be part of this dialogue.”
  • Dr. Julie Holland, psychopharmacologist, psychologist, and author, urges attendees, “I am optimistic about not just minimizing harm but starting to talk about maximizing benefits.”
  • T-Dubb-O, hip hop artist, presents the introduction to his newest album, The Drop That Spilled The Cup.
  • Jeff Mizanskey, formerly incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana related offenses, speaks about the need to fight not only for marijuana legalization but for those still in prison.
  • Edo Agustian, national coordinator of Network of People Who Use Drugs In Indonesia, PKNI, speaks about how Asia is far behind in its drug policy reform initiatives.
  • Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance urges attendees to keep learning, growing, and ultimately teach what we have learned.

Awards for Achievement in Drug Policy Reform

The Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education  
Awarded To: Charles Ries, founder and director of leading drug education programs for teenagers, UpFront Programs and the Oakland High School Student Assistance Program, and Jerome E. Beck, researcher and educator, and consultant at Comprehensive Drug Education Consultants.

The H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement
Awarded to: Neill Franklin, Executive director of Law enforcement Against Prohibition, an international nonprofit organization of law enforcement professionals and civilian supporters who want to end the War on Drugs.

The Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship
Awarded to: Robin Room, director of the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

The Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine
Awarded to: Dan Bigg, one of the founders and current Director of the Chicago Recovery alliance, a group that conducts drug-related harm reduction outreach and helps develop the practice of harm reduction around the world.

The Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Journalism
Awarded to: Eugene Jarecki, acclaimed documentarian behind the film, The House I Live In.

The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action
Awarded to: Gretchen Burns Bergman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of A New PATH, an organization that works to reduce stigma associated with addiction, and advocates for therapeutic drug policy over punitive drug policy, and VOCAL-NY, a grassroots membership organization that has helped reduce New York’s unconstitutional and racially-biased marijuana arrests, raised awareness about overdose prevention, restored the rights of formerly incarcerated people and provided voices to those most impacted and stigmatized by the war on drugs.

The Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform
Awarded to: Ira Glasser, the former director of the American Civil Liberties Union and current Board president of the Drug Policy Alliance talks about the unstoppable train of drug policy reform.

The Kurt Schmoke Award for Achievement in the Field of Law (formerly the Justice Gerald LeDain Award)
Awarded to: Mark Golding, Jamaican Justice Minister who played a pivotal role in Jamaica’s sweeping marijuana reforms, which included decriminalization of possession for personal use as well as for religious, scientific and medical purposes.