KEYC - Conference Focuses On Global Impact Of War On Drugs

Conference Focuses On Global Impact Of War On Drugs

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ST. PETER, MINN. -

For decades, the United States has been fighting what's commonly called the War on Drugs, but it's reach expands around the world.

Today at Gustavus, the annual Building Bridges Conference is providing students a perspective on this war, both home and abroad.

It's a fight that has been raging on since President Richard Nixon famously announced the War on Drugs in 1971.

But on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College, it can seem like that war is hundreds of miles away.

Building Bridges Junior Co-Chair Esrea Perez-Bill says, "It's really easy to become isolated in a bubble but talking about the War on Drugs allows us to have a discussion that is outside of our community, outside of our county even."

At the 21st year of the student–organized Building Bridges Conference, addressing social justice issues, it's taking a deeper dive into more than just the issue of drugs.

Building Bridges Senior Co-Chair Awushie Fayose says, "We're talking about mass–incarceration, we're talking about illicit drug use, we're talking about disruption of communities by taking out people for 25 plus years."

The conference is meant to encourage dialogue about the issues... as the United State debates whether to and what reforms to make.

Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance Ethan Nadelmann says, "My hope is that American can increasingly become a leader in reform policies because the bottom line is we can't have a 21st century drug that's anything like what we had in the last century."

But students at the conference didn't just hear about the War on Drugs domestically, but the impact it's having internationally, including just south of the border.

Mexican Investigative Journalist Anabel Hernandez says, "You have to see what’s in Mexico and what is happening in Central America and Southern America to really understand the damage to consume all these illegal drugs."

In the last 10 years, over 100,000 people have died in Mexico in relation to the county's fight against drug cartels.

And for the student organizers, they say it's a chance to show students they have an impact when it comes to this war.

Fayose says, "We're are really close to this problem, by the votes we take for the policies that are implemented that than go international."

--KEYC News 12