The Board of Directors of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) has chosen well-known drug policy reform activist, Kassandra Frederique, as its new Executive Director, a role she will assume in September 2020.
In an emailed statement, DPA’s board chair, Derek Hodel, announced the appointment of Frederique, calling her a leader with strategic vision, integrity, and passion.
Frederique has been one of the main advocates of expanding the debate around the impacts over-policing, the importance of legalizing marijuana with social and racial justice at the forefront, engaging municipalities and state legislatures in harm reduction strategies, and looking at the overdose crisis within communities of color as a health issue.
“By any measure, Kassandra is a force to reckon with – she has significantly influenced drug policy reform in New York, and has helped to shape the national drug policy conversation. She will be a terrific executive director,” Hodel said in a press release.
Those acquainted with Frederique’s work as the New York director for the DPA, know that she has always been adamant about social equity in the cannabis industry.
“We’ve worked long and hard to reform cannabis policy and the negative effect that prohibition has had on our communities for a long time,” Frederique told the Weed Blog at a recent gathering in New York.
Frederique noted that the war on marijuana has put millions of African Americans and Latinos behind bars yet the now legal industry remains “barely accessible to people of color.”
The numbers show Frederique is right.
Fewer than one-fifth of marijuana business owners are racial minorities, and only 4.3% are black, according to data collected by Marijuana Business Daily.
Racial disparities in marijuana-related arrests in New York are among the worst in the country.
“Anything short of full legalization keeps black and Latinx individuals disproportionately in the crosshairs of harmful enforcement practices,” Frederique said.
A big job ahead
“There is a lot at stake in this moment, and to be afforded the chance to lead the Drug Policy Alliance is a responsibility I do not take lightly,” Frederique said.
The DPA is in good hands.
“I’m looking forward to drawing on the rich tapestry of ideas represented by DPA and the drug policy reform movement to build humane and compassionate solutions,” Frederique said.
“I am humbled by this opportunity and am excited to do my part to shape the next chapter in drug policy, one of the most important issues at the intersection of autonomy and justice.”
Learn more about the important work of the Drug Policy Alliance here.