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Elevating the Conversation Around COVID-19 & Drug Policy

Drug Policy Alliance Hits Record Number of Registrations, Centering Cutting Edge Conversations in Upcoming National Webinars

WASHINGTON - Today, the Drug Policy Alliance announced the latest in their COVID-19 Webinar Series, exploring the intersection of drug policy and COVID-19. While the initial four webinars focused on areas that DPA is already known for—decarceration, re-entry, and  improving substance use disorder treatment and harm reduction services—the upcoming webinars will engage the justice reform movement in more nuanced policy discussions, including informal economies such as drug selling and sex work, safe supply and legal regulation, and drug policing and surveillance.

DPA also announced they had reached a record number of participants, with over 1,000 unique registrations for the bi-weekly two-hour webinars featuring drug policy, criminal justice and health policy thought leaders.

The series and topics discussed coincide with DPA’s COVID-19 policy recommendations, which focus on improving substance use disorder treatment, access to harm reduction services, criminal legal system reforms, reducing jail and prison populations, and supporting people with healthcare and social services upon re-entry.

“We have always known that the criminalization of drugs and people who use and sell them is a public health crisis, but this pandemic has made it all the more obvious,” said Kassandra Frederique, Managing Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns at the Drug Policy Alliance. “With jails and prisons becoming hot spots for COVID-19 and Black and Latinx communities bearing the brunt of illness and death, the systemic inequalities brought on by the drug war have never been more clear. Addressing all the facets of this, as we are doing in the COVID-19 Webinar Series, is literally a matter of life and death, and we are grateful to see that reflected in the participation we have seen, especially among those who may have not seen the relevance of drug policy and how it impacted these things before.”

The series has led important conversations among healthcare and public policy leaders and has predominantly attracted people that were outside of the drug policy sphere previously, but are now seeing the relevance of drug policy to their own work and lives.

Among those, DPA has thus far led the following dialogues:

  • COVID-19, Drug Policy, and Decarceration: Reflections and Looking Ahead
  • Reconsidering Re-entry: Exploring Decarceration in its Fullness Amid COVID-19
  • Improving Substance Use Disorder Treatment During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • New Frontiers: Drug Use, Harm Reduction & Essential Services in the Time of COVID-19

And is excited to push the limits further, with the following webinars:

  • Policing the World of Work: The Impact of COVID-19 on Informal Economies – July 9
  • Safe Supply & Legal Regulation – July 23
  • Drug Policing & Surveillance – August 6

Notably, DPA will be leading a conversation on safe supply and legal regulation on July 23. While this has been a growing priority of DPA, having these kinds of public dialogues about it with others in the health, criminal justice and public policy space is an important step in developing a broader understanding of drug prohibition’s negative impact on health and society and moving towards actual policy reforms centered in public health.

For DPA’s full COVID-19 policy recommendations, visit drugpolicy.org/COVID19.

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DPA Network is the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs. We envision new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights and a just society in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

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