Mothers Against Teen Violence to host Texas Drug Policy Conference
Hosted by Mothers Against Teen Violence ‘MATV’ the conference begins on a Friday and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Carl Hart who is an associate professor in the departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University.
He is also a research scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Hart is a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and he is a board member of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the Drug Policy Alliance.
Dr. Hart is the author of High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self- Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society. His book chronicles how growing up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods led him to his groundbreaking work in drug addiction.
MATV is hosting the conference because they believe drug use and abuse should be addressed in the context of public health rather than criminal justice, not only for the rich and famous, but for all concerned. Furthermore, they believe drug policy should be rooted in science, equity and compassion.
Speakers and panelists at the conference are activists, academics, and leaders of nonprofit and faith-based organizations with one thing in common: They all agree the time has come to end the drug war.
Friday will open with the 14th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards Luncheon beginning at 11:30 a.m. followed by keynote and Humanitarian Award Recipient Dr. Carl Hart.
Receiving the Outstanding Legislator Award will be State Representative Helen Giddings, District 109. Bob Ramsey will then receive the Community Service Award.
There will then be a screening of the very powerful documentary entitled The House I Live In, which chronicles America’s War on Drugs and approaches the subject from a variety of perspectives including drug users, doctors, law enforcement, and more.
A panel discussion will follow the documentary and it will be facilitated by Asha Bandele.
Panelists include Alan Bean with Friends of Justice, Jonathan Rucker, a formerly incarcerated person, and Alix Emerson, an assistant district attorney.
The conference picks back up on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. with introductions followed by Dr. Carl Hart speaking again, this time on the topic of understanding drug use/abuse. There will then be a panel discussion on the history of drug prohibition in Texas.
Panelists for that include Suzanne Wills with Drug Policy Forum of Texas, Dr. Bill Martin who is the director or the Drug Policy Program at Rice University’s Baker Institute, and Matthew Simpson with the Texas ACLU.
Following this will be another panel discussing the progress made toward reform agenda in the 2013 legislature. Panelists include Ana Correa-Yannez, Executive Director, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, Joy Strickland, CEO, MATV, Noelle Davis, Activist/Lobbyist, and Bob Libal, Executive Director, Grassroots Leadership.
They will then break for lunch and then come back to talk about women involved with drug policy reform in Texas. Speakers include Cheyanne Weldon, Executive Director, Texas NORML, Margarita McAuliff, Founder, Texas Moms United, and Ranjini Min, Staff RN, Medical-Surgical Nurse.
Representatives from the three major political parties in Texas will then discuss where their party’s stand on drug policy. Representing the Democratic Party will be Darlene Ewing who is the chair of the Dallas County Democratic Party. Paul Petersen will represent the Libertarian Party, he is the chair of the Dallas County Libertarian Party. Invited but not confirmed is Jennifer Hall who is the chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party.
Next up will be Sarah Saldaña, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas who will present and discuss US Attorney General Eric Holder’s new sentencing guidelines for drug related offenses.
There will then be a brief discussion on what successful implementation of drug policy reform and marijuana legalization would look like. Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney will speak about Portugal’s model for drug decriminalization. Rob Kampia, the Executive Director of Marijuana Policy Project will talk about marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. Finally Bob Libal and Dr. Ana Correa-Yannez will discuss the possible future of reform in Texas.
Closing out the conference will be Joy Strickland.
The conference will take place at The Adolphus Hotel, located at 1321 Commerce Street, Dallas, TX 75202.
For ticket information and ordering, visit their event page.
MATV is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. The organization’s mission is: Public information, education and advocacy for drug policy reform. Visit their website at www.matvinc.org.
By: Stephen Carter
Contact Stephen via email at TXCann@gmail.com