African-American Coalition Formed to Address Addiction Issues

The National Bar Association (NBA) has formed the National African-American Drug Policy Coalition with other African-American professional associations to promote the need for public-health based drug policies, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly reported April 12.

Among the organizations in the coalition are the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc.; the National Black Caucus of State Legislators; the National Association of Black Social Workers; the National Dental Association; the National Association of Black Nurses; the National Association of Black Psychologists; and Howard University School of Law.

The coalition will hold public forums in various communities, work with professional and civic groups, and lobby elected and appointed officials in an effort to develop better drug policy. The group is seeking a national drug-control policy that is focused on public health rather than criminal justice.

“What we hope to do is to shift public resources into education, prevention, treatment, and research programs that have proven more effective in reducing drug abuse, rather than through the use of expensive criminal sanctions,” said Clyde Bailey, NBA president and founder of the coalition. “We hope to educate and influence our elected officials so that they can sponsor appropriate legislation.”

Kurt Schmoke, dean of Howard University School of Law and a coalition member, added, “Many people support the consensus that the ‘War on Drugs’ needs some rethinking. This coalition of organizations might be able to move drug control policy in a more constructive direction, especially as it relates to people of color.”