Wednesday, Nov. 18: Moms United to End the War on Drugs to Rally in Front of the White House

Moms Impacted by the War on Drugs Will Call for a Focus on Saving Lives with Naloxone and Ending Mass Incarceration; Rally Will Provide Opportunity to “Ask Moms About the Casualties of the Drug War”

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–November 16, 2015. Mothers from across the nation, Canada, Mexico and the UK will gather on Wednesday, November 18th at 4:00 pm in Lafayette Square in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about the impact that the war on drugs is having on families. Moms United to End the War on Drugs mobilizes parent advocates committed to calling for an end to the global war on drugs. This rally in front of the White House comes on the eve of the Drug Policy Alliance’s International Drug Policy Reform Conference, November 18-21, in neighboring Arlington, VA.

Mothers will speak from a personal perspective on how the war on drugs has impacted them. They will call on Congress and the Obama Administration to take all possible steps to make naloxone – a drug that rapidly reverses opioid overdoses – readily available to at-risk people in order to save lives, and to end mass incarceration.

Speakers Include:

  • Gretchen Burns Bergman (California), the mother of two sons who have both struggled with heroin addiction and incarceration, founder of A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing;
  • Denise Cullen (California), a social worker specializing in HIV, whose son died from an overdose and founder of Broken No More;
  • Kathie Kane-Willis (Illinois), a mother, researcher, professor, former heroin user, and founder of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University;
  • Caroline Stewart, L.C.S.W., a mother, clinical Supervisor of the Department of Psychiatry UCSD, and President of the Board of Directors of A New PATH
  • Julia Negron (Florida) a mother, individual in long-term recovery, counselor and lead organizer of Suncoast Harm Reduction Coalition;
  • Yolande Cadore (New York), mom and director of strategic partners at the Drug Policy Alliance;
  • Karen Garrison (Washington, D.C.), mother of twin sons who were incarcerated and radio host “Mommie Activist and Sons.”

The national Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign works to end the violence, mass incarceration and overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. The Moms United Bill of Rights declares twelve basic rights such as having our roles as parents protected and supported, rather than disregarded and terminated by incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses. Parents have been effective in demanding a change in drug policies by sharing their own stories of grief and loss to change the dialogue about drug use and addiction and to recognize it as a chronic relapsing disorder, and not willful criminal behavior.

“The 40+ year war on drugs is really a war waged against families,” said Gretchen Burns Bergman, Lead Organizer of the Moms United to End the War on Drugs Campaign. “It is time to move from mass arrest and incarceration to therapeutic, health-oriented strategies that reduce the harms associated with drug use, and to stop stigmatizing and criminalizing our loved ones.”  Throughout history Moms have been the driving force in calling for an end to policies that were destructive to their families, such as alcohol prohibition. Mothers are coming together again in a committed, passionate and unified effort to end the global war on drugs for the sake of all of our children. “Ask Mom…about the casualties of the drug war” is our continuing campaign.

“We applaud President Obama’s proposal to expand access to drug treatment and prevention programs, but we must do more,” said Denise Cullen, founder of Broken No More, who lost her son Jeff in 2008 to an accidental overdose. “120 people are dying in the United States each day due to accidental overdose. Families are experiencing these senseless tragedies across the country in every community.”

“We are encouraged that the President is focusing on criminal justice reform and programs for non-violent drug offenders,” said Julia Negron, lead organizer of the Suncoast Harm Reduction Coalition. “My son served 2 prisons terms – rendering him traumatized and unemployable.  Incarceration never was the answer, so I see immediate reform as a priority to ending the cycle of wasted lives. ”

“It is time to address the “unfinished business” of mass incarceration,” said Karen Garrison, a mother whose twin sons were incarcerated on drug charges for over a decade. “These punitive policies have been particularly destructive to communities of color.”

Today there is unprecedented bipartisan consensus in Washington for a rethink of our nation’s drug policies and criminal justice system. President Obama has recently declared an end to the war on drugs, calling for greater access to treatment. Moms have been speaking out across the states as part of our “Ask Mom…How to Save a Life” campaign, in order to pass 911 Good Samaritan laws; to increase access to naloxone (a safe non-narcotic drug that can quickly reverse an opioid overdose); and to advance a host of strategies that reduce the harms associated with drug use and addiction.

Moms United to End the War on Drugs is a project of San Diego-based A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing), a 16-year old nonprofit organization that works to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support, and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies.

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