Leading Drug Policy Reformers To Be Honored At International Drug Policy Reform Conference

International Drug Policy Reform Conference

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, October 14 at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Atlanta. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other organizations. For more information, visit: reformconference.org

“Movements for justice always have their heroes, yet few ever get the recognition they deserve,” said Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “These awards honor those who have made exceptional efforts, both publicly and behind the scenes, toward advancing more sensible ways of dealing with drugs in our lives and in society.”

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

  • Ethan Nadelmann is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to drug war extremism.

Ethan Nadelmann was born in New York City and received his BA, JD, and PhD from Harvard, and a master’s degree in international relations from the London School of Economics. He then taught politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994, where his speaking and writings on drug policy attracted international attention. In 1994, Ethan founded The Lindesmith Center, a drug policy institute created with the philanthropic support of George Soros. A year later, he co-founded the Open Society Institute’s International Harm Reduction Development program. In 2000, the Lindesmith Center merged with the Drug Policy Foundation to form the Drug Policy Alliance, which he led as executive director until his retirement in April 2017.

Nadelmann and his colleagues played pivotal roles in most of the major drug policy reform ballot initiative campaigns in the U.S. on issues ranging from medical marijuana and marijuana legalization to prison reform, drug treatment, and reform of bail and asset forfeiture laws. They also have reformed state and federal laws involving drug sentencing, drug treatment, access to sterile syringes to reduce HIV/AIDS, prevention of overdose fatalities, and all aspects of marijuana policy.

  • U.S. Senator Cory Booker is the winner of the Justice Gerald Le Dain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law, which is given to individuals involved in law who have worked within official institutions when extremist pressures dominate government policies. The award is named after Gerald de Lain, the Canadian Supreme Court justice who chaired the nation’s landmark Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs.

Cory Booker was elected at the age of twenty-nine to the Newark City Council from the city’s Central Ward. Starting in 2006, Booker proudly served as Newark’s mayor for more than seven years. In 2013, Booker won a special election to represent New Jersey in the United States Senate, and in 2014 he was re-elected to a full six year term. As New Jersey’s junior Senator, Cory Booker has brought an innovative and bipartisan approach to tackling some of the most difficult problems facing New Jersey and our country. Senator Booker has established himself as an innovative and bipartisan problem-solver committed to developing collaborative solutions that address some of our most complex challenges.

Booker has emerged as a national leader in the Congressional push for common sense criminal justice reform, advocating for front-end sentencing reforms, pushing for the banning of juvenile solitary confinement in federal facilities, and spearheading legislation to make the hiring process fairer for the formerly incarcerated.  This year, he introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the U.S. Senate, legislation that ends federal marijuana prohibition and centers communities most devastated by the war on drugs.

  • The Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Media has been awarded to Javier Valdez Cárdenas. This award honors those who have produced the highest quality of journalistic coverage of drug policy and other drug issues.

Javier Valdez Cárdenas was a Mexican journalist who received several international awards for his courageous writing on drug trafficking and organized crime in the Mexican Drug War. Valdez Cárdenas was the founder of Ríodoce, a weekly dedicated to covering crime and corruption in Sinaloa, considered one of Mexico’s most violent states. He was also the author of several books on drug trafficking, including Miss NarcoLos morros del narco: Niños y jóvenes en el narcotráfico mexicano and Narcoperiodismo. In 2011, Valdez Cárdenas was awarded the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists, “to recognise his bravery and uncompromising journalism in the face of threats”. In his acceptance speech, he called Mexico’s prohibition-related violence “a tragedy that should shame us”. Later that year, Columbia University awarded Ríodoce the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for journalism that contributes to “inter-American understanding”.

On May 15, 2017, Valdez Cárdenas was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen, blocks away from the Ríodoce offices in Culiacán. Mexico remains one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists.

  • Michelle Alexander will receive the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship, which recognizes scholars, like Alfred Lindesmith, whose personal courage and quality of published research constitute a source of rational inspiration for all who labor in drug policy scholarship.

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar, and best-selling author. Her award-winning book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, helped to spark a national debate about the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, and inspired racial justice organizing and advocacy efforts nationwide.  Numerous commentators have dubbed The New Jim Crow ”the bible of a social movement,” and the book has become a staple of university curriculums, advocacy trainings, reading groups, and faith-based study circles.

Alexander has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics.  In 2005, she accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University.  In 2015, Alexander accepted an appointment as a Senior Fellow for the Ford Foundation. Currently, she is a Visiting Professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she is exploring the moral and spiritual dimensions of mass incarceration, and working with other committed souls on multi-media projects aimed at transforming public consciousness with respect to race, justice and democracy in America.

  • The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action honors citizens who make democracy work in the difficult area of drug law and policy reform. There are two awards being given this year – one to Pastor Kenneth Glasgow and another to Kathie Kane-Willis.

Pastor Kenneth Glasgow is an advocate for harm reduction, prison reform, and restoration of rights and opportunities for formerly incarcerated people, and the founder and President of The Ordinary People Society. TOPS provides rehabilitation/habilitation to formerly incarcerated people while creating programs that target youth before they reach the criminal justice system. Pastor Glasgow has gained the support of the Alabama Department of Corrections by allowing him to administer programs in Alabama prisons and jails. He is the Convener/Co-Convener of the National Criminal Justice Coalition, and the Co-chairman of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People Family Movement, State Partner for the New Bottom Line Campaign with DPA, Chaplin for The Second Congressional District, and Vice-Chairman of the Houston County A.D.C. Instrumental in registering over 120,000 formerly incarcerated people to vote in Alabama, he is the first to win a lawsuit ensuring that people convicted of felonies never lose their voting rights, incarcerated or not.

Kathie Kane-Willis began her advocacy work in 1990 with ACT-UP Chicago. In 2005, she co-founded the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, a policy research institute housed at Roosevelt University. Kathie advanced several harm reduction policies in the Midwest, including 911 Good Samaritan laws, naloxone access laws, ensuring methadone access for Medicaid-eligible individuals, and bringing attention to drug-induced homicide laws. Kathie now serves as Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Chicago Urban League, where she continues to focus her work on racial justice issues, including disparities in marijuana possession arrests and the mass incarceration of people of color who use drugs.

  • Dr. Jack Fishman is the recipient of the Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine, which recognizes medical and treatment experts who perform rigorous scientific research and who have the courage to report their findings even though they may be at odds with current dogma.

Dr. Jack Fishman was born in 1930 and was forced as a child to flee Nazi-occupied Poland with his family, finding refuge in Shanghai, China. From 1942 until 1945, he attended the Shanghai Jewish School and, in 1948, immigrated to the United States. Dr. Fishman rose to scientific fame for his research on steroid hormones and their role in endocrine-related cancers. He pioneered the study of opiate antagonists and developed a number of medicinal compounds that aid in reversing the effects of opioids – the most prominent of these being naloxone, a life-saving medicine now widely used throughout the world.

His positions over the years included serving as a professor at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the director of the Institute of Steroid Research at Montefiore Medical Center, professor and director of the Laboratory for Biochemical Endocrinology at The Rockefeller University, and the Director of Research at the Strang-Cornell Institute for Cancer Research.  Until his death, Dr. Fishman remained involved in scientific research. Dr. Fishman also served as consultant to a number of highly prominent institutions, including the World Health Organization, Food and Drug Administration and National Science Foundation. Among his numerous honors and recognitions, he was the recipient of the highly-prestigious John Scott Award for the synthesis and development of naloxone.

  • The Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education Award was first given in 2005 and recognizes those involved in drug education who have promoted honest, science-based drug education in place of ineffective scare tactics based on myths and deceit. This year, the award goes to Mark Kinzly.

Mark Kinzly has worked in the field of harm reduction and public health for the past 27 years, bringing innovative prevention/interventions to the drug-using and recovery community.  He is currently a national trainer and consultant on issues related to substance use – ranging from HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C interventions, to the development of appropriate responses to the complexities of addiction, including housing, syringe exchange and overdose prevention. He is a peer recovery coach and a patient navigator for individuals in the medical care system.

Kinzly previously worked as a Research Associate at Yale University ‘s School of Medicine/Public Health and as Coordinator and Project Manager of a number of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded studies. He initiated and ran syringe exchange programs in several states, including the New Haven syringe exchange, the first legal syringe exchange on the East Coast. He also previously worked and conducted trainings for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national organization that develops supportive housing for people who have struggled with addiction or mental health. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the National Harm Reduction Coalition, while also serving as trainer and expert on the advisory boards for the North American Syringe Exchange Network. Mr. Kinzly is co-founder of the Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI), which brings overdose awareness and trainings to the state of Texas. He has trained in all areas of overdose prevention and education, including law enforcement, active drug users, family/friends of people who use opioids, medication-assisted recovery clinics, and educational institutions. He has the honor of being a member of the curriculum development team for overdose prevention and education for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He has also served on the Community Advisory Committee and Executive Committee at Yale’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS.

  • The H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement is given to those involved in law enforcement who have demonstrated a balanced regard for the needs of enforcement and human compassion. This year’s recipient is Diane Goldstein.

Diane Goldstein is an executive board member for the Law Enforcement Action Partnership. She spent 21 years with the Redondo Beach Police Department working assignments including drugs and gangs. Both her professional experience and the death of her brother from a drug overdose inspired her to turn grief into activism. She’s made invaluable contributions to local and national discourses on drug policy and criminal justice reform as a spokesperson with a distinguished law enforcement career, and as a fierce harm-reduction advocate who believes that drug policies should be based on compassion and human rights. Most recently, she helped to support the opening of the first syringe exchange program in Orange County and trains people who use drugs to use life-saving naloxone. She played a critical role in passing major reforms in California, including marijuana legalization and a bill limiting the use of civil asset forfeiture.

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Johnny Green
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Johnny Green is a cannabis activist from Oregon. Johnny has a bachelor’s degree in public policy, and believes that the message should always be more important than the messenger. #LegalizeIt #FreeThePlant