Tech & Rights

We Are a Movement for Freedom - Drug Policy Reform Conference 2015

The drug policy reform movement in the United States has achieved several significant goals, offering valuable lessons for Europe. Watch Drugreporter’s video for the most important takeaways!

by Peter Sarosi

The biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conferences, organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, have always had a special place in my heart. The first time I attended a DPA conference – thanks to an Open Society Foundations scholarship - was in New Jersey in 2003.

Perhaps it was scholarly interest that led me to the world of drug policy reform - but it was its strong connection to social justice and personal freedom that appealed to me the most.

I had never previously realized the sheer number of ways in which the so-called War on Drugs affects vulnerable communities and ruins lives around the world, including racial discrimination, mass incarceration, social exclusion, the global HIV and hepatitis C epidemics, overdose deaths, and violent crime.

Freedom and social justice for all

I came to realize that most of the harms I had previously attributed to drug use per se, should instead more properly be attributed to punitive drug policies.

I recognized the insanity of policies which seek to eradicate human behaviors as old as human civilization - and I learned about the alternative harm reduction strategies for dealing with risky behavior.

This movement is first and foremost about freedom and social justice - for all. I hope that the next DPA conference will see more celebration of success - but even more inclusion and openness to the problems of those who feel left behind.

By Peter Sarosi
Video: Istvan Gabor Takacs and Peter Sarosi