From August 2004 to December 2008, the National African American Drug Policy Coalition, created at Howard University to influence policies and practices related to drug abuse, addiction and racial disparities, planned and convened a Blue Ribbon Commission to examine racial disparities in substance abuse policies and to make recommendations for reducing or eliminating them, held African-American drug policy summits, worked in communities around the country on drug policy issues and disseminated the commission's policy recommendations.
Key Results & Recommendations:
- The coalition released the Blue Ribbon Commission report Racial Disparities in Substance Abuse Policies: Report and Recommendations in September 2006 and disseminated its recommendations at policy summits and through listservs, presentations, media strategies and partnerships with local coalitions.
The report included four key recommendations:
- Ensure equal access to comprehensive quality treatment services.
- Increase representation of African Americans on all elected and nonelected oversight commissions, boards, task forces and other entities affecting drug policy.
- Eliminate racial biases of institutions and individuals who exercise and implement policies and practices.
- Increase participation by African-American researchers in collecting data and analyzing, evaluating and developing drug-related policies and practices.
- The coalition convened four national African-American drug policy summits to disseminate the Blue Ribbon Commission's policy recommendations and to continue to explore related issues.
- The coalition helped create and then guide seven local coalitions—in Baltimore; Chicago; Flint, Mich.; Huntsville, Ala.; Seattle; U.S. Virgin Islands; and Washington—to advance effective drug policies in their communities.
- Through letters, testimony and meetings, coalition members educated federal and state elected officials and congressional staff involved with legislation recognizing drug use as a public health problem or addressing issues related to the criminal justice system and racial disparities. These activities, related to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-funded project, were conducted outside the scope of RWJF's grants.
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