The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Gabriel Sayegh 646-335-2264
Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Another World Is Possible: U.S. Social Forum in Detroit Brings Together Over 15,000 Activists, Cultural Workers and Community Changemakers from June 22-26th; Drug Policy Reform Highlighted as Increasingly Urgent Issue for Progressives

Drug Policy Alliance and Allies to Strategize for Alternatives to Failed War on Drugs with Major Workshops and Assemblies


Thousands of activists, cultural workers and community changemakers
from around the country will gather in Detroit
this week to participate in the U.S. Social Forum. The Forum will bring
together a broad spectrum of people, skills and vision for dealing with major
issues facing our country, such as immigration, the environment, and growing
socioeconomic disparities.

The US Social Forum will feature over 1,000 self-organized workshops,
500 cultural events & performances, People's Movement Assemblies, direct
actions and a 15,000 person party!

The failed war on drugs and its alternatives will be one of the primary
issues highlighted at the conference. The Drug Policy Alliance, in
collaboration with its allies and partners, is organizing three major workshops
and assemblies:

"Drug use, drug abuse, and the harmful policies of the war on
drugs, affect all of us. Too many have lost a friend to an overdose, have a
family member who is locked up, or have a loved one in recovery," said
Jasmine Tyler, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy
Alliance. "We are at the U.S. Social Forum because we know another world
is possible. The United
States' over-incarceration binge must
end. It is time to treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue, and
to treat people with dignity and respect whether they use drugs or not."

Workshops and Assemblies:

The Drug War: A War on Women and
Families. (Two-Hour Workshop)

Wednesday, June 23,
2010, 10am - 12pm -- UAW
Building: Taurus

The United States
is home to 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's
prisoners. One-quarter of those prisoners are now women - most of them
incarcerated for a low-level drug violation or property crime. Women's
incarceration rates in the U.S.
have skyrocketed by nearly 800% since the late 1970s, paralleling the expansion
of women's self-determination and equal participation in civil society.
The inter-generational costs to families and communities of this phenomenon
cannot be overstated, especially considering that more than three-quarters of
women in prison are mothers. This workshop will describe the ways that the drug
war targets women and will outline strategies to end the criminalization of
women and build healthier families and stronger communities.

The War on Drugs: How the
Criminal Justice System Became an Institution of Racial Oppression - and
What We Must Do About It. (People's Movement Assembly, 4 1/2 hours)
June 23, 2010, 1-5:30pm -- Cobo Hall: 03-46

People of all ethnicities and races use and sell drugs at basically the
same levels, but poor people and people of color are arrested and locked up
much more often than the wealthy and white. The drug war has targeted people of
color and used the "criminal" label to strip whole communities of
full civic participation. People with a conviction are pushed out in every
sense: kicked out of school, fired from their jobs, uninvited from their
churches, deported, incarcerated, barred from voting and excluded from
receiving financial aid, public assistance and public housing. Drug war
policies kill, both through violence and neglect. This PMA explores the racial
implications of the war on drugs and describes strategies to change current
drug laws, criminal justice practices and public health policies.

Legalizing Marijuana for Social
Justice (Four-Hour Workshop)

Thursday, June 24,
2010, 1-5pm -- Cobo Hall: D3-16

Marijuana is by far the most widely consumed illicit substance -
and marijuana laws are the most widely enforced, accounting for over half of
all drug arrests in the US
each year. Every year in the U.S.
some 850,000 people are arrested for a marijuana offense - nearly 90% for
possession. Although marijuana use rates are basically the same across racial
lines, a hugely disproportionate number of those arrested are people of color.
The effects of marijuana prohibition are not just felt in the US: in just three years nearly 23,000 people
have been killed by drug war violence in Mexico - where marijuana may
account for over half of all illicit drug trade profits. While the movement to
legalize marijuana is increasingly mainstream, the debate rarely touches on the
effects of disproportionate enforcement practices among youth and people of
color. This workshop will explore why ending marijuana prohibition is essential
to achieving social justice; consider what impact legalization will have on the
economic opportunities of different communities; sharpen the progressive,
social justice imperative of marijuana law reform; and provide concrete ways
that groups attending the USSF can insert social justice into the broader debate
about marijuana reform.

The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization promoting drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

(212) 613-8020