Preview: International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver next week

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

The first retail sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado has yet to be rung up, but the state is already reaping some convention business as a result of its groundbreaking reforms of drug laws. Next week more than a thousand elected officials, health care professionals, students, drug war veterans and policy wonks from thirty countries will descend on downtown Denver for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference -- four days of panels and analysis of drug policies that will also be a celebration of Colorado's key role in the reform movement.

The biennial conference, slated for October 23-36 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown, is the brainchild of the Drug Policy Alliance, which has been active in marijuana legalization movements around the country -- and was directly involved in the successful effort to pass Amendment 64 last year.

"When we first picked Denver to host the 2013 biennial conference, we thought it quite unlikely that we'd be convening in the first state (with Washington) to legalize marijuana," reads a statement released by DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann. "But Colorado's voters ensured a warm welcome with their vote last November. Now drug policy reformers from across the country and around the world are eager to attend our conference in Denver -- not to get high in the Mile High City but to spend three days at the world's leading drug policy reform gathering and demonstrate their support for Colorado's global leadership."

Scheduled programs include a roundtable focusing on which states might move forward with marijuana legalization in 2014 or 2016; a discussion of international drug decriminalization efforts, with top-ranking officials from Guatemala, Uruguay and elsewhere; panels dealing with jury nullification, drug culture, drugs and HIV, the criminal justice system and more. For a complete list of sessions on tap, check out the official schedule. Many of the speakers have yet to be identified, but what's a drug policy reform conference without some last-minute inspirations?

One event attendees can count on: a "victory walk" down the Sixteenth Street Mall on Thursday, October 24, starting at 1 pm, "to celebrate the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay, as well as recent harm reduction and sentencing reform victories in Colorado." After forty years of failed wars on drugs, an autumnal stroll in support of "harm reduction" strategies might not be a bad idea at all.

Additional information regarding next week's action can be found on the conference website.

More from our Marijuana archive circa August: "War on drugs survey: 4 percent say we're winning, 82 percent disagree."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.