Press Release  | 01/31/2011

Drug Policy Alliance Brings on Emily Kaltenbach to Head New Mexico Office

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Office to Build on Decade of Legislative Successes: Medical Marijuana Access, Overdose Prevention, and Syringe Availability

SANTA FE — The Drug Policy Alliance has selected Emily Kaltenbach as the new state director of its New Mexico office.

As state director, Kaltenbach will supervise the Drug Policy Alliance's legislative agenda, advocacy and program efforts in New Mexico. The office's recent strategic priorities have included medical marijuana, overdose prevention and methamphetamine prevention.

Kaltenbach brings more than 15 years of experience in public policy and public health to the Drug Policy Alliance. Most recently, she served as the director of Policy and Planning at the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department. Kaltenbach also served as acting director of the Department's Consumer and Elder Rights division.

"I have spent the last 15 years working in New Mexico implementing rural community-based health centers, working on long-term care policy and system reform, and most recently, setting the stage to implement federal health care reform in New Mexico. I'm excited to bring this perspective to DPA," said Kaltenbach. "Having grown up in rural New Mexico, I saw how the criminalization of drugs, especially marijuana, shattered families, and left many living in poverty with limited access to health care and education.

"I am committed to the philosophy of the organization," she added. "I am eager to participate in the ongoing work addressing the harm the drug war causes in the lives of people in this country, the state of New Mexico, and across our borders."

The Drug Policy Alliance is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights and seeks to promote dialogue on cutting-edge drug policy issues around the country. Its work spans issues from ending marijuana prohibition and promoting more honest and effective drug education to reducing the many harms of drug use and drug laws.

In the past decade, New Mexico has made more strides than any other state in reducing drug misuse, overdose and addiction through a health-oriented framework. DPA's history in New Mexico has been remarkable, not only in our level of success, but also in our level of engagement with government agencies, community organizations, and people impacted by the war on drugs. Over the past decade, DPA New Mexico has won major drug policy reform victories – including successful efforts to:

  • Create and implement an innovative medical marijuana program that was the first with state-authorized dispensaries;
  • Bring in $500,000 in federal funding to create Just4Teens, an innovative drug education project for secondary school students in New Mexico;
  • Create and implement the nation's first "Good Samaritan" law to address drug-related overdose deaths;
  • Allow for the sale of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS;
  • Ban racial profiling;
  • Establish a "Women's Re-entry Drug Court" program;
  • Reform habitual offender (also known as "three strikes") laws;
  • Reform civil asset forfeiture laws;
  • Opt New Mexico out of the federal lifetime ban on welfare benefits for former drug offenders;
  • Bring in over $10 million in new funding for substance abuse treatment to the state by directing the state Medicaid program to cover substance abuse treatment for Medicaid recipients.

"After working closely with New Mexico's two previous governors, one a Republican and one a Democrat, to advance sensible reforms of drug policy, we are hopeful that we can work with the new governor to continue our reform work, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "Because of her law enforcement experience, Governor Martinez knows better than anyone that our current drug war policies have failed and have proven costly, ineffective and counter-productive. We look forward to working with her to advance policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. I cannot imagine anyone better able to take on the challenge of promoting this dialogue with the current administration than Emily Kaltenbach."

Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald at 510-229-5215

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