Blue Ribbon Commission Reports Racial Disparities in Drug Addiction Policies - Makes Recommendations

Dates of Project: August 2004 to December 2008

Synopsis of the Work: 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 Findings

  • 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 RWJF-funded project, were conducted outside the scope of RWJF's grants.