On Wednesday morning, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will hold an unprecedented rountable hearing entitled "America's Insatiable Demand for Drugs: Examining Alternative Approaches." The hearing comes at a time where the country is struggling to tackle the opioid epidemic, and policymakers are in search of innovative solutions that avoid the mistakes of the war on drugs.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, will lay out his vision for ending the war on drugs and forging ahead with new policies based on science, health, and human rights. In his written testimony, Nadelmann affirms that "A new approach is needed, one that reduces both the harm caused by drugs and the harm caused by current drug control policies."
"I've waited a very long time to be invited by Congress to testify on these issues," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "I think it's a positive sign that political leaders, not just in the states but even on Capitol Hill, now recognize both the failure of the drug war and the need to think outside the box in addressing our country's drug problems."
Nadelmann will provide a robust defense of marijuana legalization, present evidence to support decriminalizing possession of all drugs, and discuss cutting-edge strategies to deal with the opioid crisis, such as safe injection facilities. He will also discuss the devastating impact of the war on drugs on people of color.
The other witnesses on the panel should ensure a robust and varied discussion on drug policy, something of a rarity in Congress. Dr. Scott MacDonald will provide testimony based on his work at the Providence Crosstown Clinic, the only North American clinic to offer medical-grade heroin and hydromorphone to chronically addicted patients within a supervised clinical setting. He will also discuss key findings from clinical trials he was part of, including the Study to Assess Longer Term Opioid Medication Effectiveness, which was the world's first study on a new treatment option for heroin addiction. Frederick Ryan is the Chief of Police for Arlington, Massachusetts, whose department runs a program intended to get people who use drugs into treatment rather incarceration. One outlier is David Murray, a former ONDCP official from the George W. Bush Administration, who supportsexpanding the drug war.
Members of the Committee include well-known Senators such as John McCain (R-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The hearing will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. on June 15 here: