Achievement Awards

2015 Achievement Award Winners have not yet been selected.  Please see below for our honorees from the 2013 Reform Conference in Denver.

2013 Achievement Award Winners

Richard J. Dennis Award

The Global Commission on Drug Policy

Edward M. Brecher Award

Phillip Smith

Alfred R. Lindesmith Award

Paul Armentano

2013 Robert C. Randall Award

Lorenzo Jones

Steph Sherer

2013 Norman E. Zinberg Award

Serviço de Intervenção nos Comportamentos Aditivos e nas Dependências (SICAD), a branch of Portugal’s Ministry of Health & Dr. João Castel-Branco Goulão

H.B. Spear Award

The Seattle Police Department

Justice Gerald LeDain Award

Alison Holcomb

Steve Fox, Mason Tvert and Brian Vicente, Esq

Dr. Andrew Weil Award



The award categories are:

The Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement 
in the Field of Drug Policy Reform

This award is given to the individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to drug war extremism.

Richard J. Dennis is a successful businessman, philosopher, and philanthropist, and an extraordinary advocate for free and more democratic societies. Mr. Dennis was the first philanthropist to make a major contribution to drug policy reform. His support was critical to the early success of the Drug Policy Foundation (which merged with the Lindesmith Center in 2000 to create the Drug Policy Alliance). 

Past Awardees:
  • 2011 John Sperling, Ph.D., founder of Apollo Group, the largest provider of private-sector higher education in the United States
  • 2009 Donald MacPherson, former Drug Policy Advisor to four successive Mayors of Vancouver, Canada
  • 2007 Rev. Howard Moody, minister emeritus of Judson Memorial Church, Greenwich Village, NY; senior minister 1956-1992
  • 2005 Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City, UT 
  • 2003 Philip Owen, former Vancouver mayor; Pierre Claude Nolin, LL.L., member of the Canadian Senate; Larry Campbell, M.B.A., mayor of Vancouver
  • 2001 Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico
  • 2000 Kevin Zeese, president, Common Sense for Drug Policy
  • 1999 Arnold S. Trebach, founder of the Drug Policy Foundation and professor emeritus at American University in Washington D.C.
  • 1997 John B. Vasconcellos, California state senator
  • 1996 Sasha and Ann Shulgin, authors of the psychedelic research books Pihkal and Tihkal 
  • 1995 Jocelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General
  • 1994 Gustavo de Greiff, former prosecutor general of Bogotá, Colombia
  • 1993 Frank M. Jordan, former mayor of San Francisco, CA
  • 1992 R. Keith Stroup, executive director, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
  • 1991 Milton Friedman, economist and Nobel Prize winner
  • 1990 Jon C. Parker, founder of the National AIDS Brigade of Boston, and Dave Purchase, founder of the needle exchange project of the Tacoma-Pierce Health Department
  • 1989 Kurt L. Schmoke, M.D., former mayor of Baltimore, MD

The Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Media

This award honors those in the media who question official drug war propaganda.
2011 Award Winner: The Huffington Post
Edward M. Brecher was a freelance writer and journalist specializing in medical and scientific topics for more than 50 years. His first journalistic inquiry into drug policy began when Consumers Union asked him to write a book looking at drugs and drug policy as consumer issues. His synthesis of history and policy analysis resulted in the book Licit and Illicit Drugs. After Mr. Brecher’s death in 1989, an editorial in The New York Times described Licit and Illicit Drugs as a monumental work. In 1988 he was awarded the first Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship.
Past Awardees:
  • 2011 Huffington Post, reinvented the way news, information and entertainment is delivered, consumed and engaged with.
  • 2009 Montel Williams, medical marijuana advocate and host of Montel Across America, nationally syndicated by Air America Radio
  • 2007 Alan Bock, opinion editor for the Orange County Register and AlterNet, Webby Award-winning progressive news portal and information source
  • 2005 Jacob Sullum, senior editor of Reason magazine and Maia Szalavitz, journalist and senior fellow at media watchdog group STATS
  • 2003 The Economist, one of the most respected weekly publications covering business and political news
  • 2001 Dan Forbes, investigative journalist, and Dan Gardner, reporter for the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun
  • 2000 Rolling Stone Magazine, one of the nation’s leading magazines on music, politics, and pop culture
  • 1999 Ofra Bikel, producer of PBS Frontline’s “Snitch,” and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness
  • 1997 Garry Trudeau, cartoonist
  • 1996 Hugh Downs, Emmy Award-winning news anchor
  • 1995 Catherine Crier, Emmy Award-winning journalist and former Texas judge
  • 1994 William Finnegan, staff writer for The New Yorker

The Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship

This award recognizes scholars, like Alfred Lindesmith, whose personal courage and quality of published research constitute a source of rational inspiration for all who labor in drug policy scholarship.

Alfred R. Lindesmith was the first prominent scholar in the United States to challenge conventional thinking about drug addiction and drug policy. A distinguished professor of sociology at Indiana University, Professor Lindesmith believed that the legal prohibition of psychoactive drugs was futile and wrote widely on the threat to democracy inherent in such a policy. His powerful critique of U.S. drug policy often angered leaders of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and other national drug agencies, who unsuccessfully sought to discredit his research and have him dismissed from his university post. Professor Lindesmith’s two books on addiction and drug policy, Opiate Addiction (1947) and The Addict and the Law (1965), constitute a rational inspiration for the growing number of scholars working in drug policy reform.

 Past Awardees:

  • 2011 Thomas Kerr, M.D., co-director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and associate professor at the University of British Columbia
  • 2011 Evan Wood, M.D., co-director of the Addiction and Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy
  • 2009 Jeffrey Miron, Ph.D., Harvard economist
  • 2007 Harry Levine, Ph.D., professor of sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • 2005 Martin Jelsma, coordinator and founder of the Drugs and Democracy Programme at the Transnational Institute (TNI)
  • 2003 Marc Mauer, M.S.W., assistant director of The Sentencing Project
  • 2001 David Vlahov, director of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine and expert on the history of HIV infection among injection drug users
  • 2000 Lynn Zimmer, co-author of Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts
  • 1999 Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy, and Craig Reinarman, author of Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice
  • 1997 Peter G. Lurie, University of Michigan researcher and needle exchange advocate
  • 1996 Patricia Erickson, author, research scientist, and director of the Canadian Drug Policy Research Program
  • 1995 Dan Waldorf, author of Cocaine Changes: The Experience of Using and Quitting and senior scientist at the Institute for Scientific Analysis
  • 1994 Stanton Peele, psychologist and author of numerous books including 7 Tools to Beat Addiction
  • 1993 Peter Cohen, researcher at the Center for Drug Research at the University of Amsterdam
  • 1992 Ethan Nadelmann, J.D., Ph.D., author of Cops Across Borders and former Princeton University professor
  • 1991 Dr. Thomas Szasz, psychiatrist and author of Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers
  • 1990 Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Harvard Medical School professor and author of Marihuana: the Forbidden Medicine
  • 1989 Rufus King, Esq., pioneer of humane drug policy and author of The Drug Hang-Up: America’s Fifty-Year Folly
  • 1988 Edward M. Brecher, author of Licit and Illicit Drugs: The Consumers Union Report on Narcotics, Stimulants, Hallucinogens, and Marijuana – Including Caffeine

The Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action

This award honors citizens who make democracy work in the difficult area of drug law and policy reform.

Robert C. Randall pioneered the medical marijuana issue in America. He was a model citizen who has took on the federal government and assisted in the defense of people accused of criminal offenses involving marijuana. In receiving treatment for glaucoma, Robert C. Randall became the first medical marijuana patient in the United States. After winning his case against the federal government, Mr. Randall continued to fight for others in need as founder and representative of the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics. In the early 1990s, he also founded the Marijuana AIDS Research Service, intended to help place AIDS patients in programs and studies that administer medical marijuana. This service’s closure was a driving force in the adoption of California’s Proposition 215, the first medical marijuana ballot initiative.

Past Awardees:

  • 2011 Dale Gieringer, state director of California NORML
  • 2011 Dorsey E. Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, co-founder of All of Us or None and Critical Resistance
  • 2009 Howard Lotsof, discoverer of ibogaine's antiaddictive effects, patient activist, president of Dora Weiner Foundation and author of the Ibogaine Patient's Bill of Rights; and Deborah Small, executive director, Break the Chains: Communities of Color and the War on Drugs
  • 2007 Cliff Thornton, primary speaker and founder of Efficacy, Inc.
  • 2005 DrugSense, a nationwide network of volunteer drug policy reform activists.
  • 2003 Allan Clear, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition
  • 2001 Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, and Virginia Resner, authors of Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War and founders of Human Rights 95, Cannabis Consumers, and Green-Aid; Randy Credico, activist for the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, Inc.; and Nora Callahan, executive director of The November Coalition
  • 2000 Diana McCague and Harry Simpson, founder of the Chai Project in New Jersey
  • 1999 Elvy Musikka, medical marijuana patient and advocate, and one of only eight recipients of medical marijuana through the federal marijuana program
  • 1997 Sandee Burbank, founder of Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse; Cheryl Simmons, expert on women and addiction treatment and incarcerated women’s issues; Imani Woods, educator at Progressive Solutions and the Harm Reduction Coalition, and Lennice Werth
  • 1996 Joyce Rivera, founder of St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction, a needle exchange program and center in the Bronx, NY
  • 1995 Dennis Peron, author of Proposition 215 and founder of San Francisco Cannabis Buyers’ Club; Edith Springer, clinical director of the New York Peer AIDS Education Coalition
  • 1994 Jack Herer, activist and author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy; Louis Jones, founder of STANDUP Harlem, Inc.
  • 1993 Julie Stewart, founder and president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums
  • 1992 Richard Bradbury, activist against abusive treatment tactics and founder of Community Improvement, Inc.
  • 1991 Barbara and Kenneth Jenks, national co-chairs of Marijuana AIDS Research Service and pioneer advocates for medical marijuana treatment for AIDS patients
  • 1990 Arnold and Mae Nutt, medical marijuana activists whose late son used medical marijuana for chemotherapy-related nausea
  • 1989 Robert Randall, the first medical marijuana patient under the now-defunct federal program

The Norman E. Zinberg Award for Achievement in the Field of Medicine

This 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.

Norman E. Zinberg was an eminent psychiatrist, Harvard Medical School professor, drug abuse treatment expert, public advocate of drug policy reform, and world-renowned author. Dr. Zinberg’s 1984 book, Drug, Set and Setting: The Basis for Controlled Intoxicant Use, was a landmark work that documented the powerful role of “set and setting” in shaping individual drug use. He also conducted groundbreaking research on heroin “chippers,” people who use a “highly” addictive drug without becoming addicted. Dr. Zinberg was a leading scholar responsible for the first legitimate research on marijuana with human subjects, as well as the first research on the use of THC in cancer therapy. He consistently advocated scientific research and drug policy reform even though his positions were politically unpopular.

Past Awardees:

  • 2011 Dr. Julie Holland, psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist and author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER
  • 2009 Dr. Martin Schechter, physician, researcher and national director, Canadian HIV Trials Network
  • 2007 Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, MSW, director of the International Harm Reduction Project at the Open Society Institute
  • 2005 Valerie and Michael Corral, medical marijuana activists and founders of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana
  • 2003 Rick Doblin, Ph.D., founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
  • 2001 Drs. Thomas Zeltner, Ambros Uchtenhagen, Margret Rihs-Middel, Robert Haemmig, and Andre Seidenberg, a Swiss team of medical specialists conducting Switzerland’s heroin maintenance trials
  • 2000 Jose Alvarez de Choudens
  • 1999 Vincent P. Dole, professor emeritus, Rockefeller University
  • 1997 Dr. Kathleen M. Foley, pain specialist and director of the Project on Death in America and Dr. Carey Stratton Hill Jr., Open Society Institute
  • 1996 Hans Vissert
  • 1995 Ernest Drucker, professor of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • 1994 Robert G. Newman, M.D., president of Beth Israel Medical Center
  • 1993 Herbert M. Klein, a Circuit Court judge in Florida who developed drug courts
  • 1992 Alex Wodak, M.D., former director of Alcohol and Drug Service at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and founder of the first needle exchange program in Australia
  • 1991 Prevention Point, a model needle exchange program in San Francisco, CA
  • 1990 John Marks, Pat O’Hare, and Allan Parry, Liverpool activists who produced the Mersey, England harm reduction model
  • 1989 Andrew Weil, M.D., clinical professor of Internal Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, and author of From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs

The H.B. Spear Award for Achievement in the Field of Control and Enforcement

This award is given to those involved in law enforcement who have demonstrated a balanced regard for the needs of enforcement and human compassion.

H.B. Spear played the lead role in British drug control policy for more than a quarter century. He was an inspector in the Drugs Branch of the Home Office and eventually rose to the rank of chief inspector, a post from which he retired in 1986. As the leading expert on addiction and drug treatment policy in Great Britain, Spear advocated heroin and methadone maintenance. The front-line police in Scotland Yard came to him for advice and so did street addicts. Influenced by the 1926 Rolleston Report, “Bing” Spear believed drug control and law enforcement could be rational and humane.

  • 2011 Ronald E. Hampton, DC representative for Blacks in Law Enforcement of America and law enforcement fellow at the University of the District of Columbia’s Institute for Public Safety and Justice
  • 2009 Peter Christ, co-founder and vice director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
  • 2007 Norm Stamper, Ph.D., Seattle police chief 1994-2000, author, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition speaker
  • 2005 Jack Cole, founding member and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
  • 2003 Commander Brian Paddick, Metropolitan Police Authority, London, United Kingdom
  • 2001 Patrick Murphy, former police commissioner of New York City
  • 2000 Gilbert Puder, Vancouver police officer and instructor at the British Columbia Police Academy
  • 1999 Terence Hallinen, San Francisco district attorney
  • 1997 Peter Frerichs, vice president of the Frankfurt, Germany Police Department and Dr. Hans Korner Harald, public prosecutor, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 1996 Thomas Frazier, city police commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department
  • 1995 Rob Hessing, chief of police, Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • 1994 New Haven Board of Young Adult Commissioners, Community Liaison Group for the Police, New Haven, CT
  • 1993 Werner Schneider, Paul Vasseur, Dr. Horst Bossong, and Ueli Locher—drug policy coordinators of Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Zurich, respectively
  • 1992 Joseph D. McNamara, Ph.D., research fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, CA, and former police chief of Kansas City, KS and San Jose, CA
  • 1991 Nicholas Pastore, former police chief of New Haven, CT, and advocate of harm reduction strategies
  • 1990 Eddy L. Engelsman, former Dutch drug czar and proponent of humane drug policy
  • 1989 H.B. Spear, former chief inspector in the Drugs Branch of the British government.
  • 1988 Wesley A. Carroll Pomeroy, former assistant director of the DEA and former Drug Policy Foundation board member

The Justice Gerald Le Dain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law

This award is given to those involved in law who have worked within official institutions when extremist pressures dominate government policies.

Justice Gerald Le Dain has been an outspoken advocate for sensible drug policy reform in Canada since the 1970s. From 1969 to 1973, while dean of the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, Justice Le Dain chaired Canada’s historic Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs that advocated for a compassionate, common-sense approach to drug policy. The report also advocated to keep casual users out of the criminal justice system and recommended that serious consideration be given to legalization of personal possession of marijuana. Justice Le Dain went on to serve on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1984 to 1988, where he continued to advocate for common sense drug policy.

Past Awardees:

  • 2011 Nanna W. Gotfredsen, founder of The Street Lawyers, the leading reform organization in Denmark serving drug users and street based sex workers
  • 2009 Hon. Jeffrion L Aubry, New York State Assembly member, chariman of the Assembly Corrections Committee and advocate for Rockefeller drug law reform
  • 2007 Libby Davies, Canadian Member of Parliament for Vancouver East since 1997
  • 2005 Vanita Gupta, NACDL attorney who played a pivotal role in the Tulia, Texas pardons
  • 2003 Congressman John Conyers, Jr., J.D.
  • 2001 Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women
  • 2000 John Kane, Jr., federal judge, Denver, CO
  • 1999 Eric Sterling, president, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation
  • 1997 Connecticut Law Revision Commission
  • 1996 John Morgan, co-author of Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts and professor of Pharmacology, City University of New York Medical School
  • 1995 Patrick Hallinan, prominent San Francisco defense attorney who has been active in high-profile and political issues involving the conflict between the exercise of governmental power and individual liberty
  • 1994 Michael Moore, founder of the Australian Parliamentary Group for Drug Law Reform and member of the Legislative Assembly, Australian Capital Territory
  • 1993 James P. Gray, judge in the Superior Court of Orange County and proponent of drug legalization
  • 1992 Tony Serra, Esq., renowned criminal defense attorney who defended needle exchange workers; Michael Michaelson, J.D., M.D., who successfully defended a Massachusetts medical marijuana patient
  • 1991 Robert W. Sweet, federal judge, New York
  • 1990 Gerald Le Dain, Canadian Supreme Court Justice, 1984-1988, and chair of Canada’s landmark Commission of Inquiry into the Non-Medical Use of Drugs
  • 1988 The Law Firm of Steptoe and Johnson, attorneys for Robert C. Randall, the first recipient of the federal medical marijuana program

The Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education

This new award is given to those involved in drug education who have promoted honest, science-based drug education in place of ineffective scare tactics based on myths and deceit.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s book From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs, is widely regarded as the best drug education book ever written. His first book, The Natural Mind, transformed popular understanding of why people use drugs and why people experience psychoactive drugs in different ways. And his other writings about drugs, including The Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, have pioneered new ways of thinking about drugs. Over the past two decades, Dr. Weil has emerged as the leading figure in the field of integrative medicine, gaining international recognition with books such as Spontaneous Healing and Healthy Aging as well as his columns, websites and speeches. He is currently director of the Program in Integrative Medicine of the College of Medicine, University of Arizona.

Past Awardees:

  • 2011 Earth and Fire, co-founders of Erowid Center, an educational non-profit organization that collects, reviews, and publishes data about psychoactive plants, drugs, technologies, and practices
  • 2009 Marsha Rosenbaum, PhD, director emerita of the Safety First Project and of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance
  • 2007 Rodney Skager, Ph.D., author of Beyond Zero Tolerance: A Reality-Based Approach to Drug Education and School Discipline
  • 2005 Carla Niño and Pat Klotz, leaders within the California State Parent Teacher Association (PTA) who championed positive drug education reform measures