yolanda cadore

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U.S.: VOCAL-NY and Gretchen Burns Bergman To Receive Activist Award at Drug Policy Reform Conference

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Leading Drug Policy Reformers to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 21

The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action in the Field of Drug Policy Reform will be awarded to VOCAL-NY and Gretchen Burns Bergman at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference on November 21 in Arlington, Virginia.

VOCAL-NY is one of the most effective grassroots membership organizations in the country, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "They weave together a broad range of social justice issues, including working to end the war on drugs," the DPA announced in a press released.

"They have helped reduce New York’s unconstitutional and racially-biased marijuana arrests, raised awareness about overdose prevention, and restored the rights of formerly incarcerated people," according to the DPA. "Their organizing model, centered around the leadership and voices of those most impacted and those most stigmatized – people who use drugs, people living with HIV/AIDS, people of color, people who are formerly or currently incarcerated, or people who live in low-income communities – makes VOCAL-NY vital to the conscience of our movement."a

Louisiana: Gov. Bobby Jindal Signs Marijuana Sentencing Reform Law

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New Law an Important Step Toward Reducing Louisiana’s Notoriously Overcrowded Prisons and Jails

Even With This Reform, Louisiana’s Marijuana Laws Remain Harsher Than Nearly All Other U.S. States; Majority of Louisianans Support Ending All Criminal Penalties for Marijuana Possession

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Tuesday signed legislation to reform the state’s severely punitive marijuana laws and reduce criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession. The law is expected to save the state up to $17 million and will reduce the chances of Louisianans caught with small amounts of marijuana ending up with lengthy jail or prison sentences or saddled with a criminal conviction.

“Louisiana's overdue for a major overhaul of its drug policies and this is a good first step,” said Yolande Cadore, director of strategic partnerships at Drug Policy Action, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It's a relief to see that smart policymakers are starting to recognize this political reality.”

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world – and Louisiana has the highest rate in the U.S. Louisiana’s incarceration rate has doubled in the last twenty years and is nearly five times higher than Iran's, 13 times higher than China's and 20 times higher than Germany's.

One of the key drivers of Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate is the war on drugs – 18,000 Louisiana residents are arrested for drug law violations each year.

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