One hundred years after drugs were first banned, support for waging war on drugs is collapsing. In the United States, only one in five people now believe the drug war is worth the costs (read more). In Britain, only 26 percent believe “drugs should be illegal even if they are controlled by criminals.” (The Independent)
Wherever the alternatives have been tried – as ‘Chasing the Scream’ shows – they are working startlingly well, and almost nobody wants to go back.
This is an amazing opportunity for anybody who wants to get involved in this fight. If we act now, we can end a century-long war. We can save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. It is in our power to achieve this, in our lifetimes. For example, ‘Chasing the Scream’ tells the story of Bud Osborn, a homeless street addict who started an uprising in Vancouver that within a decade had transformed the city’s drug policies, and raised average life expectancy in his neighborhood by ten years. If he can do it, anyone can.
All over the world, this fight has begun – and every year it is making startling progress.
If you would like to be kept informed of events and actions that you can take part in – either in person, or online – then please sign up to the mailing list here. If you are frustrated there aren’t more actions – arrange one and email me at email@example.com and if it sounds promising, I will let other people who’ve engaged with the book know and urge them to join in.
These are, in my opinion, the best organizations in the world fighting to end this war. Please support them, donate, sign up. I spoke with representatives of almost all of these organizations when writing the book and I can vouch for the excellence of their work:
Based in the UK and Mexico, Transform Drug Policy Foundation has been educating me on this issue for over a decade. They are the best analysts anywhere of why prohibition has gone wrong, and the best analysts of how to make the alternatives work. For anybody interested in these questions, their work is absolutely essential. @TransformDrugs
The gold standard for campaigning in the US. On the ground, all over the country and as far afield as Uruguay, I saw how the DPA is exposing the drug war and saving lives. For anybody in the US who wants to end this war, I would recommend volunteering at your state’s DPA chapter today. There is a full list here: @DrugPolicyNews @TonyNewmanDPA @EthanNadelmann
If I wanted to persuade an average person off the street, anywhere in the world, to support ending the drug war, I would urge them to spend fifteen minutes with a LEAP member. This organization consists entirely of current or former law enforcement officials who have fought on the frontlines of the drug war – and concluded that we need to pursue the alternatives that are working so well wherever they are tried. One of its leading members, Leigh Maddox, is a key figure in ‘Chasing the Scream’, and I interviewed its members from El Paso to Baltimore to New York City. @CopsSayLegalize @LeighMaddox @NeillFranklin @SteveFX
The excellent Canadian equivalent to Transform or the Drug Policy Alliance, visit their site here.
This isn’t strictly an anti-prohibition organization, but Harm Reduction International work relentlessly to reduce the terrible harm the drug war does to users and addicts, and to save lives.
A wonderful New York-based grassroots campaigning group who have made amazing progress in changing the state’s drug laws to make them less brutal. If you live in New York I strongly recommend volunteering and getting involved with them. @VOCALNewYork
Break The Chains is a remarkable group of African-Americans resisting the naked racism of the drug war. Somebody should set up a UK branch – the UK is the only Western country with more racist drug arrests (proportionate to the size of the population) than the US. @oshun125
Mexicanos en Exilio is an extraordinary group in El Paso, Texas who help to get refuge and asylum in the United States for people fleeing the Mexican drug war. They were instrumental in introducing me to the family of Marisella Escobedo and other victims of the drug war. Carlos and Sandra Rodrigues, who run this organization, are heroes.
Of all the people I met across the world researching this book, Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch was the one I admired the most. On a budget of almost zero, she personally documents the horrific abuses happening in Arizona’s prisons, and meets with prisoners to help them survive their time inside and recover when they leave. She was instrumental in helping me piece together the story of Marcia Powell, the meth addicted woman who was cooked in a cage in an Arizona prison, and whose story is explored in chapter eight. Please donate to her if you can. @AZPrisonWatch
NORML is the biggest marijuana legalization group in the United States, with the wind at its back.
Joy Strickland’s son was murdered in Dallas, Texas – and it led her to learn about the drug war and how it is one of the largest drivers of violence in the US. She has founded Mothers Against Teen Violence – a group to oppose the drug war and move towards peaceful methods. She’s the most persuasive advocate for legalization I have ever met.
I wouldn’t normally recommend a market fundamentalist think-tank – but some of the best and most insightful research on the drug war comes from The Cato Institute‘s principled opposition to it. @CatoInstitute @jchidalgo
The Beckley Foundation is a British group carrying out cutting-edge research into possible positive uses of currently banned drugs. I don’t agree with everything they say but they do some really valuable work.
Ruth Dreifuss, the heroic former President of Switzerland who is described in chapter fifteen, is one the leading figures on The Global Commission on Drug Policy – a group of world leaders who are making the case for alternatives to the drug war. @globalCDP