What does it take to move the world?
Meet the individuals who represent a new guard of social justice, building a future grounded in equality for all.
It doesn’t have to be this way, not least because prohibition doesn’t work. Frederique points to Portugal as an example of successful alternative approaches. When the country decriminalized drugs in 2001, drug use remained the same but overdoses and diseases dropped sharply and treatment rose. Chipping away at draconian drug laws, the alliance has been instrumental in legalizing marijuana in multiple states, reducing prison populations with drug sentencing reform efforts, and increasing evidence-based harm reduction programs such as syringe exchanges, safe consumption spaces, and access to naloxone (an antidote to opioid overdose). Frederique and her team are proving time and again that law enforcement should not be the gateway to treatment.
Frederique won’t rest until the remaining 49 states follow Oregon’s lead. Still, there’s time for joy—she’s let her Gen Z colleagues teach her how to DJ on Zoom, and sometimes she even takes their song suggestions.
Though she landed at Drug Policy Alliance by chance, it was there that Frederique realized her purpose. Desmond Tutu once said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” Frederique's mission is to stop that river. A formidable task, but she knows through hard-won experience that when advocates and affected communities work together, they can be a force of nature.
Illustration by Agata Nowicka