Why We Donate to the Drug Policy Alliance
WHAT IS THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE?
The Drug Policy Alliance is an advocacy group focused on reforming the policies and practices in the legislative and judicial branches, specifically their treatment of drug users, wrongly incarcerated peoples, minority communities, and everyone else affected by our nation’s harmful drug policies. The first thing you see on the DPA’s website is the tagline “The Drug War Hurts People,” which immediately lets you know their stance: our policies should put our people (not profits, not politicians) first, and our current policies harm more people than they help.
You can see the DPA’s “About” page here, and let them tell you what they do. The page, again, emphasizes the point of people over everything else: the tagline this time reads “The War on Drugs is a War on People.” On this page, they go over more of what they believe, who they are, and where they’re headed.
They disparage the detrimental War on Drugs every opportunity they get, and they are the best organization at both describing the pitfalls of our current policies, and suggesting real-life solutions that work best for everyone involved—both the government and the people whom they are supposed to protect and fight for.
WHAT DOES THE DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE DO?
The DPA does everything from educating others, to organizing events and movements, to even writing and passing legislation in our Congress. Let’s take a closer look at what they do below.
1) Providing Resources:
The most important thing the DPA does is educate others. We have no chance to change the way things are if we don’t first learn how and why they need to be changed.
The DPA has an “Issues” page on their site, which you can access here. On this page, they describe the 6 issues they work on the most: decriminalizing drugs, building sustainable infrastructure to combat drug addiction, uprooting the Drug War and its myriad negative effects, minimizing the surveillance of minority communities and other unjustly surveilled peoples, legalizing marijuana, and de-stigmatizing drug dealers and users.
From this webpage, you can easily access bountiful resources for learning about these highlighted issues. You learn why these issues are important, how these issues run deeper than you would ever think, and how we can go about unraveling these issues and replacing these problematic policies with a more people-centric approach to combating drug abuse and addiction.
Also on their site is a “Resources” page dedicated to providing people with any resources they could possibly need as regards drugs. They have tips for parents talking to their teens about drugs, resources for both safe drug use and what to do if drug use goes wrong, and all the necessary background information about drugs and the legislation surrounding them. Their resources are organized into the following topics: Drug Education, Resources for Academics, Harm Reduction, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment. They publish periodic newsletters and updates on their resources tab as well, and have them all organized like an encyclopedia to where you can browse for what you want to see.
Another good educational page they have on their site is the “Drug Facts.” page, which they have organized by drug (i.e. marijuana, cocaine, LSD, heroin, etc.). These resources are good in that they are not from an authority figure in your life: it is not a parent or government official telling you that drugs are bad. Rather, they give you sets of facts about the drugs that have all the information you would ever need to know. They don’t repeat balderdash by saying you’ll go to hell for smoking the devil’s lettuce or that LSD will turn you brain to mush, but they also don’t condone drug use. They are a neutral third-party who is trying to give people the resources they need to make their own decisions. They do not advocate for drug use, but they also avoid demonizing it to a degree beyond what it deserves.
2) Initiating Change
As the DPA claims on their “Take Action” page, they are the “only organization in the country that has played a role in every successful marijuana legalization and drug decriminalization ballot initiative.”
The DPA not only talks the talk—educating, providing informational resources, and inspiring others with their words and ideas—but they walk the walk too: they are on the frontlines of the legalization and decriminalization efforts, looking to make drugs less stigmatized while also fighting to expunge criminal records and free the prisoners who are wrongly incarcerated.
On their “Action Alerts” page here, the DPA lists all battlefronts on which they’re fighting and how you can contribute. As of now, the top alert is “Help us pass the MORE Act in the House.” The MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement) Act is the most recent congressional attempt at marijuana policy reform. It conquered its first obstacle by getting passed by the House Judiciary Committee, but now faces the tougher challenges of passing in the House of Representatives and the Senate before going in front of the President to be signed into law.
Their website makes it easy to contact your congressperson or to make your voice heard in ways that actually matter. The DPA knows the vast majority of Americans support reforming our nation’s drug policies, and they are working tirelessly to congregate our individual voices and amplify them into a unified call for change.
Their Action Alerts page is not only for their numerous legislative projects, however. It includes a whole array of subject, but none of them even questionably out of place. One of the items there currently is titled “COVID-19 Escalates in Prisons — Tell the CDC to Act Now.” Although this topic does not related to drug policy reform, and only tangentially relates to prison reform, it is still an issue that gets overlooked because it mostly only hurts an already underprivileged, underrepresented subgroup of our society. The DPA has a clear message and a clear direction, but they’re not afraid to step outside of these boundaries every once in a while to ensure that even the meekest of Americans has a support system on which they can rely.
3) Aggregating Individual Voices & Donations
As mentioned above, the DPA is a great organization because of the platform they provide. They know people feel strongly about the issues they emphasize, and they provide individuals with the ability to get their voice heard by their congressperson and other decision makers via a letter, a march, or even a class-action lawsuit. The DPA acts as a megaphone for millions: they amplify our voices. Whereas one person—one letter, one voice—might not make a difference, it is much more difficult to ignore a chorus that’s a million-strong.
On their “Donate” tab, the DPA not only invites you to donate to them, but also provides you with “Other Ways to Give.” Here, they explain the various methods of donating and help you figure out which is the best for you.
OUR HISTORY WITH DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE
When Paz Packs was in its infancy in late 2020, we knew we needed to give back. As a cannabis company, we sought after an organization who fights the battles we thought were important. After a few months of looking around, we came to the decision that the DPA is the organization who most aligns with our goals of reforming drug policy, ending mass incarceration, and reframing the conversation around drugs from a criminal perspective to a health perspective.
Towards the end of 2020, we had decided that 100% of our profits would go to the DPA. At the time, this number came out to around $6,500. We realize this doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was all we had at the time. We made sure to give back before we took anything for ourselves.
We hope to raise more than $6,500 this time around, and hope that you can help us as we continue to donate our profits, time, and energy to raising awareness and money for the issues that are on our brains and in our hearts.
WHAT MAKES DPA SO GREAT?
One of the things that is infinitely impressive about the DPA is their transparency: here you can see all their financial documents. They are not afraid of people looking into their organization because they have nothing to hide: their funds are traceable, their executives aren’t showering themselves with bonuses, and they are honest and upfront about how much they allocate to what.
Another thing is their annual reports where they highlight what happened in each year—what they did, what congressional moves were made, and what effects we see from their efforts. You can access the 2020 Annual Report here. Past year’s reports can be found here.