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Drug Policy Conferences

  • 13th International  Conference on Drug  Policy Reform May 17 - 20, 2000   Washington Plaza Hotel   Washington, DC 20005.  This is one of the major drug policy reform conferences.  For details, click here.

Links to past conferences

  • March 10-12, 1999: Conference on "heroin assisted treatment for dependent drug users",  Bern Switzerland. For details, click here.
  • March 12-14, 1999: Injection Drug Use -- Societal Challenges, University of Montreal.  The Faculty of Continuing Education of the University of Montreal is holding a public forum on current issues regarding injection drug use. The forum is being organized in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Drug Addiction Certificate Program, and in collaboration with organizations which deal with questions of injection drug use.  This conference will bring together researchers, leading experts and other interested parties from Canada, Europe and the United States, as well as drug users.  For details, click here.
  • March 21-25, 1999: 10th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE REDUCTION OF DRUG RELATED HARM, Geneva.  This conference has made a significant contribution to the adoption of harm reduction policies around the world.  For details, click here.
  • March 20, 21, 1999, Toronto:  2nd International Conference on Prisoners of the War on Drugs.  For details, click here.


   The 2nd Int'l Conference on Prisoners of the War On Drugs >
Sat. & Sun., March 20 & 21, 1999, Toronto Canada >
Registration:  Conference room in Vari Hall, York University, Toronto. >

Attendance is free.  >  >

Times of sessions:  3 sessions are planned:  >  >
1. Saturday, March 20 - 9:45 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.  >
2. Saturday, March 20 - 2:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.  >
3. Sunday, March 21 - 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.  >

Remember, doors to the conference room will be closed during the opening > ceremony by
Vern Harper, a native Canadian elder. Doors will remain closed > for > approximately 15

Capacity:  Seating capacity limited to 500. For advance reserved seating, > refer to contact
information below.  >  >

Other events:  There will be an Awards Nite Ceremony with music and > partying > at York
University, Saturday 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.  >  >

Organizers of the event:  > *Harvey Briggs, member of the Curriculum Committee of the
Department of > Sociology, York University.  > *John Beresford, member of the Committee
on Unjust Sentencing, Los > Angeles.  >  > Contact information:  Prior to March 7, calls may
be directed to John > Beresford at 213-380-5557. Please do not ask that long distance calls be
> returned.   >  > The following is a partial list of speakers. > Additional speakers will
present, funds permitting >  > For more information, please contact johnber@earthlink.net  >
> *Reginald Alexander: POW. "Inner City Mayhem: The Lures, Causes, and > Effects > of
Inner-City Drug-Dealing. Epidemic or Government Plan?" (read in > absentia)  > *Skip
Atley: Ex-POW, Michigan. "Questionable Prosecutor Practices in > Mushroom > Cases"  >
*John Beresford: The Committee on Unjust Sentencing: "Why There Is a War > on > Drugs"
> *Eric Blumenson: Professor, Suffolk University Law School. "Financial > Incentives That
Keep the Drug War Going"  > *Randy Credico: Activist, Rockefeller Vigil, New York. "The
Vigil Movement > in > New York State"  > *Michael Cutler: Voluntary Committee of
Lawyers, Boston. "Two Prohibitions > and > The Voluntary Committee of Lawyers"  >
*Angie Dunn: Ottawa. Ms Dunn reads a paper submitted by POW Robert D. > Milcher, > "A
Cautionary Tale of Coercion and Entrapment" *Lester Grinspoon: > Professor, > Department
of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, author "Psychedelics > Reconsidered, et al. Keynote
Speech: "The Case of Kerry Wiley: Rescue from > Being Hanged in Malaysia"  > *Vern
Harper: Native Canadian Elder, Toronto. "Discrimination and Racism: > Native Canadian
Experience in Drug Cases"  > *"Madam X": POW. "Housing Humans for Profit" (read in
absentia) *Thomas > McHale: Former Senior Economist, Goldman, Sachs, New York; Father
of Kevin > McHale. "Plentitude, Productivity and Drugs" by Kevin McHale, POW  >
*Walter Noons: Attorney, Boston and Amsterdam. "Extradition: The Les and > Cheryl
Mooring Case"  > *Mikki Norris: Co-director Human Rights and the War on Drugs exhibit.
"The > War > on Drugs and the UN Declaration of Human Rights"  > *Jonathan Ott:
Ethnobotanist, Vera Cruz, Mexico; author Pharmacotheon et > al., > and Robert Riley, POW
"The Pharmacratic Inquisition"  > *Werner Pieper: Publisher, Löhrbach, Germany. "Green
Help and the POW > Situation in Germany"  > *Rosie Rowbotham: Ex-POW, This Morning
talk show host, Canadian > Broadcasting > Corporation, Toronto. "Health Care Deficiencies
in Canadian Prisons"  > *Dale Schneider: Treasurer, Orange County Hemp Council,
California; author > The > WOE. "Thwarting the Will of the People: The Case of Marvin
Chavez in > Orange > County"  > *Livy Visano: Professor, Department of Sociology, York
University, > Toronto. > "Racism and the War on Drugs"  > *Alan Young: Professor,
Osgoode Law School, York University, Toronto. > "Medical > Necessity in Canada"

?Some Notes on the Conference at York  The Second International Conference on Drug War
Prisoners is set for March 20-21 at York University in Toronto.  For people who did not
know there was a First International Conference on Drug War Prisoners, or the reason for a
second, some notes may be in order.   The setting for the first conference was an arts center in
Heidelberg.  In > 1996, the European Society for the Study of Consciousness held its >
biennial > meeting in that city, and a group known as the Committee on Unjust > Sentencing
> in Los Angeles decided to splice a prisoners conference on to the end of > that > academic
body's meeting.  Not all, but some of the agenda of the ESSC > conference dealt with the
effects of certain plant and chemical substances > on > consciousness.  The agenda stopped
there; it did not cover penalties for > the > use of these substances, including harsh and
prolonged incarceration.  A > part > of the total picture was missing, and an add-on
conference was required to > fill the gap. >  >

About 200 people attended, a few from the conference downtown, many from > the >
community of university students and other German youth.  A version of the > Human Rights
'95 exhibit (as it was then known), displaying the skewed > penalties imposed on drug users
in the United States, was installed by > Adriaan > Brankhorst from Amsterdam.  Papers were
read in English and German, > detailing > the hazards Drug War prisoners face.  The
"Heidelberg Declaration," a > statement questioning the place of the criminal justice model in
> addressing > the problems of drug use vs. a public health model or a social justice > model,
> won general approval.  To judge from the audience response and the local > press >
write-up, the conference was a success.  It opened questions for > discussion > not often
heard in public. >  >

The focus of the conference in March is the continuing centrality of the > Drug > War
prisoner issue.  Drug War critics mostly settle for the harm reduction > model.  Harm
reduction accepts as fact that drug use is not possible - and > may > not even be desirable - to
eliminate from society; it is best handled > through > a policy that avoids the most damaging
results of drug use.  The > humanitarian > concerns of harm reduction make it hard to
disagree with.  The respect > shown > for human dignity, in contrast to the demonic slant
placed on users by > those > who champion the Drug War, gives harm reduction a potentially
wide appeal. > Harm reduction is the basis of much anti-Drug War sentiment.  It is the >
issue > around which conferences critical of the Drug War tend to form. >  >

The weakness of the argument, and of a conference based on harm reduction > principles
alone, is omission of the suffering of Drug War prisoners and > their > families.  Where does
the material for a Drug War prisoners conference > come > from?  Primarily, from prisoners
themselves, and from those who know them > well.  The rest is secondary.  This does not
mean that statistical > information > and analysis of data are unimportant.  Academic input is
vital.  Both > kinds of > information are needed for an in-depth understanding of the Drug
War. >  > The proceedings of the conference will be published in book form by the >
Nathanson Centre for Criminology, a publishing arm of York University. > The > hope is for
a text that will serve the needs of sociology students in both > North America and the wider



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