Ending the Drug War Conference

keynote speaker: Dionna King, former Policy Manager of the New York office of the Drug Policy Alliance, Program Manager at Vital Strategies

Click here to register!

Diamond Building, Colby Campus, Mayflower Hill

parking is available in the Lunder Visiter Parking Lot behind the Diamond Building

Conference Agenda:

9:00-9:30: Walk-in Registration

9:30 Welcome: Winifred Tate, Maine Drug Policy Lab at Colby College; Maddy Madgnunson, Maine Health Equity Alliance; Cait Vaughan, Maine Family Planning 

9:45-10:45 Keynote: “Restorative Justice for the Drug War”

Dionna King, former Policy Manager of the New York office of the Drug Policy Alliance, Program Manager at Vital Strategies, in conversation with Maine Access Points. Learn more about the reparative justice campaign in New York, Color of Pain.

11:00-12:00 Alternatives in Focus

Expert Update: Decriminalization in the US: Meagan Sway, ACLU Maine

Expert Update: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization: What are the Lessons for Maine? Rob Glover, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Maine 

Work Session: Advancing Reproductive Justice for Maine’s Impacted Families

Facilitator: Cait Vaughan, Maine Family Planning 

Description:  This is a forum focused on ending punitive responses toward pregnant people and parents who use and/or are in recovery, through applying a reproductive justice lens to drug policy & culture change work. This will be a discussion-based “working” session where participants identify and explore grassroots and small-scale approaches to culture change at the intersections of parenting, poverty, substance use and stigma. 

12:00-1:30 Networking lunch

1:30-3:00 Communities on the Front Lines

Session: We Need Each Other:  Mutual Aid, Harm Reduction & Organizing Post-Drug War Communities

Moderator:  Cait Vaughan, Maine Family Planning

Participants:   Maine Access Points, Portland Overdose Prevention Society, Waterville Needlepoint Sanctuary, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (USM)

The first half of the session brings together representatives from existing community-based harm reduction projects across Maine to discuss frameworks for offering mutual aid and peer-run alternatives that both center and leverage the human rights, dignity and power of people who use drugs (PWUD) to end overdose death and rebuild more equitable and healthy communities.  A facilitated discussion during the second half will address challenges of organizing communities to embrace harm reduction initiatives and alternatives to existing punitive responses to drug use. This discussion will be grounded in an analysis of how racism, classism, ableism and stigma shape who ‘belongs’ in communities, and address how organizing can transform the ways we are in relationship with each other and systems. 

Session: Resisting and Healing from America’s Drug War: Maine’s Front Line Communities Respond

Moderator: Ambureen Rana

Participants: Maine Wakanaki REACH; Barbara Taylor, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (ILAP); Melissa Dunn, Restorative Justice Institute

The session focuses on the far-reaching and targeted harm of Drug War policies on Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and immigrant populations across the U.S. and Maine. Panelists will draw connections between drug policies that target People of Color and attendant oppressive ideologies and campaigns. The discussion will also include collective acts of resistance and healing among Black and Brown people, and how Maine can repair systemic racist harm among directly-impacted communities. 

3:15-4:15 Plenary: A Collective Conversation on Repairing Drug War Harms in Maine

For more information, see the Events Page.

Hosted by Colby College. In collaboration with the Maine Harm Reduction Conference. Made possible through support from the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Foundation and the Maine Drug Policy Lab at Colby College

Click here to register!

Current Research: Women, Drug Use and Recovery in Maine

We are conducting extended ethnographic life history interviews with women in short-term and long-term recovery, including oral histories of recovery pathways, and with women in active use. We are documenting the challenges these women experience, as well as the practices of care used by women in recovery and women who use drugs, with their families and communities. We will also conduct extended ethnographic interviews with community stakeholders and health care providers. Our goals are to analyze barriers to treatment for women and the factors contributing to women maintaining long term recovery; and to analyze the experiences of women who use drugs and develop gender sensitive harm reduction recommendations. For more information, click here.

If you are interested in participating, please contact wltate@colby.edu.


The Maine Drug Policy Lab at Colby College brings together researchers, students, policymakers, advocates, and the public, providing evidence-based analysis for addressing critical drug policy issues in our state and beyond. Through conferences and workshops, the Drug Policy Lab facilitates relationships among stakeholders and offers education on drug policy reform, and conducts research on policy debates and drug use in Maine.