Press Release  | 10/25/2013

Portugal Government's Drug Agency and its General Director to be Honored at International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver on Saturday, October 26

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Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Other Winners Include Seattle Police Department, Global Commission on Drug Policy, and More

DENVER— The Service Intervention in Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies (SICAD) and its general director Dr. João Castel-Branco Goulão will receive the Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine, at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver on Saturday, October 26. The award recognizes medical and treatment experts who perform rigorous scientific research and who have the courage to report their findings even though they may be at odds with current dogma.
                                                                             
“Portugal’s drug policy stands out as a model for other nations committed to treating drug use and addiction in a health-based and fiscally responsible manner,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I only hope that people in Portugal fully appreciate not just the wisdom of their own drug policies, but also the extent to which Goulão and the Institute have provided international leadership on the issue.”
                           
Serviço de Intervenção nos Comportamentos Aditivos e nas Dependências (SICAD) is an agency in Portugal’s Ministry of Health that is directly responsible for the implementation of the country’s national drug strategy. Its mission is to promote the reduction of harms related to drug misuse and drug addiction. In 2001, Portugal enacted one of the most extensive drug law reforms in the world when it decriminalized low-level possession and use of all illegal drugs and significantly expanded treatment and harm reduction services, including access to sterile syringes, methadone maintenance therapy and other medication-assisted treatments. After more than a decade, the Portuguese experience demonstrates that decriminalization – alongside a serious investment in treatment and harm reduction services – can significantly improve public safety and health.
 
Dr. João Castel-Branco Goulão is the general director of SICAD and the Portuguese national drug coordinator. He was a member of the Portuguese committee that prepared the 1998 report on which the first Portuguese drug strategy, which included decriminalization, was based. Dr. Goulão has been centrally involved in both crafting and implementing Portugal’s health-based drug policies and has been invited to present on the Portuguese model in numerous other countries. Dr. Goulão has also served as the Chairman of the Management Board of the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction since 2010.
 
Previous recipients of the Zinberg Award include: Dr. Andrew Weil, author of From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-altering Drugs and Vincent Dole, professor emeritus, Rockefeller University.
 
Other conference awardees include the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the Seattle Police Department.
 
The Global Commission on Drug Policy is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to drug war extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.
 
The Commission was initiated by former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia), Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico). Current commissioners include Kofi Annan, Paul Volker, George Shultz, Richard Branson and former presidents George Papandreou (Greece), Ruth Dreifuss (Switzerland) Aleksander Kwasniewski (Poland), Jorge Sampaio (Portugal) and Ricardo Lagos (Chile).
 
The Seattle Police Department will receive the H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement. The award is given to those involved in law enforcement who have demonstrated a balanced regard for the needs of enforcement and human compassion.
 
Serving a community of 635,000 people, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has been at the forefront of health-centered innovation in drug law enforcement. Policing in Seattle is based on four cornerstones: Justice, Excellence, Humility and Harm Reduction. SPD has long supported the expansion of access to sterile syringes and other harm reduction interventions. With the passage of Initiative 502, which legalized the production, distribution, sale and non-medical use of marijuana in Washington State, SPD won national acclaim for its commitment to help ensure the new law’s successful implementation, spearheading a public education campaign to inform residents of, and encourage voluntary compliance with, the new law.  SPD is currently piloting the first pre-booking diversion program in the country, known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).
 
The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation's leading organization promoting alternatives to the drug war, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations. For more information on the conference and a complete list of awardees, visit: www.reformconference.org.

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

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