The Drug Policy Alliance is hosting a Federal Lobby Day on Wednesday, November 18th that is expected to bring more than 200 people from nearly 25 U.S. states and 15 countries to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would roll back some of the worst excesses of the failed war on drugs. The lobby day comes as numerous reform proposals gain momentum in Congress, including sentencing reform, marijuana law reform, and overdose prevention.
"Members of Congress are under a lot of pressure to reform punitive and ineffective drug policies and we're turning the heat up," said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Our supporters will talk about what they're doing in their community to reduce the harms associated with both drugs and the war on drugs."
Lobby day participants will meet with lawmakers in roughly 70 meetings over the course of the day and attend a special luncheon with five members of Congress who have championed legislative efforts to reform federal marijuana and other drug laws. This historic constituent lobby day comes on the same day that House lawmakers are expected to vote on whether to advance major drug sentencing reform legislation.
The lobby day will draw a diverse group of constituents with a range of professional backgrounds and expertise on a wide array of drug law reform issues. Constituents will meet with their lawmakers to urge them to pass sentencing reform legislation, allow states to move forward with marijuana law reform, ramp up the federal response to the overdose crisis, end federal civil asset forfeiture abuses and reduce collateral consequences of a drug law conviction. International participants will educate lawmakers about the impact of US drug laws abroad and successful drug law reform initiatives occurring in their home country.
At 1:00 PM, lobby day participants will attend a luncheon in the Rayburn House Office Building featuring remarks from champions of drug law reform in Congress: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Congressman Robert "Bobby" Scott (D-VA).
The lobby day precedes the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, co-hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance in Arlington, VA this week. The conference will bring together more than 1,300 leading international experts, treatment providers, researchers, policymakers and key activists on drug policy reform.
"Most people understand that the war on drugs has failed, that it has filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, destroyed communities of color, eviscerated civil liberties, and wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer but done little to reduce the harms associated with substance misuse," said Piper. "Policymakers are looking for alternatives and through our lobby day and conference we will highlight drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.