Cannabis Ruderalis

Drug Policy Alliance
Established2000 Edit this on Wikidata (22 years ago)
Legal status501(c)(3) organization Edit this on Wikidata
HeadquartersNew York City Edit this on Wikidata
CountryUnited States Edit this on Wikidata
Revenue9,738,941 United States dollar (2018) Edit this on Wikidata Edit this on Wikidata

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is a New York City–based nonprofit organization that seeks to advance policies that “reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies” [1] The organization prioritizes reducing the role of criminalization in drug policy, advocating for the legal regulation of marijuana, and promoting health-centered drug policies. DPA has been led by executive director Kassandra Frederique since September 2020.

Kassandra Frederique on The Laura Flanders Show in 2019


The Drug Policy Alliance was formed when the Drug Policy Foundation and the Lindesmith Center merged in July 2000. Lindesmith Center founder Ethan Nadelmann served as its first Executive Director.

Broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite spoke out against the War on Drugs in support of the Drug Policy Alliance. He appeared in advertisements on behalf of the organization and wrote a fundraising letter, which was also published in The Huffington Post. In the letter, Cronkite wrote: "Today, our nation is fighting two wars: one abroad and one at home. While the war in Iraq is in the headlines, the other war is still being fought on our own streets. Its casualties are the wasted lives of our own citizens. I am speaking of the war on drugs. And I cannot help but wonder how many more lives, and how much more money, will be wasted before another Robert McNamara admits what is plain for all to see: the war on drugs is a failure."[2]

Main issues[edit]


DPA believes that cannabis should be legalized and regulated for adult use and for medicinal purposes. DPA believes marijuana should be removed from the criminal legal system and regulated responsibly with equity, social justice, and community reinvestment at the core.[citation needed]

Drug war[edit]

DPA believes that the War on Drugs in America has failed. They present the argument that the United States has spent billions of dollars on making the country drug-free, but many illicit drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and many others, are more potent and prevalent than ever before.[3][4][5][6]


DPA believes the growing numbers of deaths due to drug overdose[7] should be dealt with as a medical rather than a criminal issue. They present drug decriminalization, methadone and buprenorphine access, naloxone access, overdose prevention centers, drug checking, and Good Samaritan laws as their solutions.[8]

Parents, teens, and drugs[edit]

DPA believes that young people need access to credible information regarding decisions and information on drugs. They believe that open and honest dialogue is the key, and with this idea started the Safety First Project.[9]

Health approaches[edit]

DPA believes that drug use should be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal issue and advocates for harm reduction and drug decriminalization.[citation needed]


DPA believes that many of the arrests for drug possession conflict with the constitutional rights of Americans.[10] DPA has also provided funding for Flex Your Rights, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about their constitutional rights during police encounters.[citation needed]

Communities affected[edit]

DPA believes that the war on drugs does not affect all of the American population the same way, and that some communities are disproportionately affected.[11][12]

Drug policy around the world[edit]

DPA states that many countries around the world are approaching their own war on drugs in a different way than the United States does and that many of the countries can lead as examples for many new approaches in the U.S.[13][14]


DPA was a sponsor of California's 1996 landmark medical marijuana law, Proposition 215,[15] which made cannabis available to patients as well as reduced criminal penalties for possession. Beginning with California in 1996, DPA has played a role in roughly half of the campaigns that have legalized medical marijuana in the U.S.

DPA played a role in all the campaigns to legalize marijuana for adult use more broadly to date: Colorado and Washington in 2012; Uruguay in 2013; Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., in 2014; California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada in 2016; New Jersey in 2020; and New Mexico and New York in 2021.[citation needed]

In 2000, DPA helped push California's landmark treatment-not-incarceration law called Proposition 36. It replaces jail time with substance abuse treatment for first and second time nonviolent drug offenders. More than 84,000 people were removed from jail and graduated from treatment.[16]

DPA has been involved with other drug sentencing reforms including the repeal of New York's Rockefeller drug laws in 2009, the federal Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, Proposition 36 in 2012 which reformed California's Three Strikes Law, Proposition 47 in 2014 which changed some nonviolent offenses like simple drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors in California, bail reform in New Jersey in 2014, and asset forfeiture reforms in California, Florida, and New Mexico in 2015-16.[citation needed]

In 2006, DPA got the "Blood-Borne Disease Harm Reduction Act" signed into law in New Jersey. It allows up to six cities to establish syringe access programs. This program is designed to prevent the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS.[17] DPA also played a role in efforts to make syringes legally available in New York (2000), California (2004) and supported efforts in Connecticut, Illinois, and other states.[citation needed]

DPA has worked across the country to pass the "911 Good Samaritan Immunity Laws." These laws are to help encourage overdose witnesses to call 911. They reduce drug possession charges for those who seek medical help. DPA led a campaign in New Mexico to pass the law and were successful in 2007.[16] DPA has also helped pass numerous naloxone access laws, including in California and New York to make it available over-the-counter.[citation needed]

In 2020, DPA's advocacy and political arm, Drug Policy Action, spearheaded the passage of the Oregon Ballot Measure 110, which made Oregon the first state in the nation to decriminalize drug possession while significantly expanding access to evidence-informed, culturally-responsive treatment, harm reduction and other health services.[18]

DPA awards[edit]

DPA gives biannual awards at its International Drug Policy Reform Conference to "honor advocates, elected officials and organizations for their courageous work in reforming drug laws.".[19] These include

  • Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Journalism
  • Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform
  • Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship
  • Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action
  • Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine
  • H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement
  • Justice Gerald Le Dain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law
  • Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Drug Policy Alliance. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  2. ^ Cronkite, Walter (March 1, 2006). "Stop the drug war now, more than ever". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 13, 2011.
  3. ^ "Drug Policy Alliance | Guiding Drug Law Reform & Advocacy". Retrieved April 12, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Abuse, National Institute on Drug. "Nationwide Trends". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  5. ^ Crawford, Alejandro (July 13, 2015). "What Have We Been Smoking?". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Porter, Eduardo (July 3, 2012). "Numbers Tell of Failure in the War on Drugs". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  7. ^ Abuse, National Institute on Drug. "Overdose Death Rates". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  8. ^ Drug Policy Alliance "Preventing Overdose"
  9. ^ "Safety First: Parents, Teens and Drugs". Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  10. ^ Drug Policy Alliance "Reducing Harm: Treatment and Beyond"
  11. ^ Bowling, Ben; Phillips, Coretta (November 1, 2007). "Disproportionate and Discriminatory: Reviewing the Evidence on Police Stop and Search". The Modern Law Review. 70 (6): 936–961. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2230.2007.00671.x. ISSN 1468-2230. S2CID 23235460.
  12. ^ "The Drug War is the New Jim Crow". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  13. ^ "Drug Policy Around the World"
  14. ^ "For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  15. ^ "Marijuana and the Golden State | Drug Policy Alliance". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Drug Policy Alliance "About DPA"
  17. ^ "New Jersey Senate to Vote on Bill to Make "Pilot" Sterile Syringe Access Programs Permanent and Provide Funding" (Press release). Drug Policy Alliance. June 19, 2012. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  18. ^ "Oregon 1st in US to soften on hard drugs, 'magic' mushrooms". AP News. November 4, 2020. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  19. ^ DPA, November 4, 2005, Drug Policy Alliance to Hand Out Honors to Leading Advocates and Organizations at Biennial Conference in Long Beach, CA Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

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