Fri, Mar. 09, 2012
8:30 am - 4 pm
(GMT-06:00) America/Chicago

For nearly a century, U.S. drug policy has been characterized by the punitive prohibition of illicit drugs, with "zero tolerance" for drug users, producers and traffickers. This bipartisan policy has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and produced an incarceration rate that is by far the highest in the world. And yet, the number of American citizens with substance abuse problems has remained remarkably stable over the last 30 years, and illicit drugs remain easy to obtain for those who want them.

Public support for the war on drugs has dramatically decreased, but there is less agreement over what polices should replace drug prohibition. On Friday, March 9, following a keynote address by noted travel writer, public television producer and public radio host Rick Steves on the previous evening (Thursday, March 8), the Baker Institute will host a conference titled "The War on Drugs Has Failed. Is Legalization the Answer?" Able and respected defenders of current policy, leading advocates for reform and academic researchers will discuss and examine key issues such as alternatives to prohibition, effects of the war on drugs on minority communities and international efforts to reduce the harms of drug abuse.


Watch the entire conference:

Conference Agenda

Thursday, March 8

7:00 pm -- Keynote Address: Travel as a Political Act, with a European Take on America"s War on Marijuana

Rick Steves, Travel Writer; Host of "Rick Steves" Europe" and "Travel with Rick Steves"


Friday, March 9, 8:30-4:00 (all sessions plenary)

8:30 am -- Welcome and Introductory Remarks

William Martin, Ph.D., Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

8:45 am -- Examining the Premise, Considering Alternatives

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance

John J. Coleman, Former Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; President, Drug Watch International

9:45 am -- Law Enforcement Perspectives

The Honorable Patricia R. Lykos, District Attorney, Harris County, Texas

Michael Dirden, Executive Assistant Chief, Houston Police Department

The Honorable Michael McSpadden, Judge, 209th Criminal Court, Harris County, Texas

Russ Jones, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

10:45 am -- Break

11:00 am -- Marijuana

Russ Belville, Outreach Coordinator, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., Former Senior Adviser, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (2009-2011); Assistant Professor, Division of Addiction Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine

Noon -- Lunch

12:30 pm -- Are Current Drug Laws the New Jim Crow?

Video: Michelle Alexander, Professor, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University; Author, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness"

The Rev. Edwin C. Sanders II, Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, Nashville, Tenn.

1:30 pm -- International Alternatives and Insights

Europe: Policy Alternatives in Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe
Alex Stevens, Ph.D., Professor in Criminal Justice, University of Kent, United Kingdom

Gary J. Hale, Nonresident Fellow in Drug Policy, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy; Retired Chief of Intelligence, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

United States
Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance

3:00 pm -- Break 

3:15 pm -- Closing Plenary

The Honorable Larry W. Campbell, Senator, Parliament of Canada; Former Member, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Drug Squad; Former Chief Coroner, British Columbia; 37th Mayor of Vancouver


Fri, Mar. 09, 2012
8:30 am - 4 pm
(GMT-06:00) America/Chicago