The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws

Mission  of the Alliance | History | Creating the Model Laws Forming the Alliance | Board of Directors | Alliance Staff


MISSION The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) is a resource for  governors, state legislators, attorneys general, drug and alcohol professionals,  community leaders, the recovering community, and others striving for comprehensive,  effective state drug and alcohol laws and policies. We draft, research, and  analyze model drug and alcohol laws and related state statutes; provide access  to our national network of drug and alcohol experts; and facilitate working  relationships among state and community leaders and drug and alcohol professionals.

HISTORY NAMSDL began as the President’s Commission on Model State Drug Laws.  This Congressionally established Commission was charged with creating a model  code of laws to help states effectively address alcohol and other drug abuse.

The Commission was strictly bipartisan; twelve Republicans and twelve Democrats from across the nation. All state and local leaders and the Commissioners came from all walks of life, each possessing expertise in some aspect of the alcohol and other substance abuse problem. They included an urban mayor, a superior court judge, state legislators, a child advocate, a housing specialist, attorneys general, police chiefs, treatment providers, district attorneys, and private practice lawyers.

The Commissioners were a diverse group who at first had seemingly little in common except their appointment to the Commission. But that diversity proved to be a strength, not a weakness. Their task, as noted by Vice-Chair of the Alliance, Ralph Brown, was “to  talk to people on the front lines of the alcohol and other substance abuse problem, and talk to those who have done some of the next thinking on the subject, and then to cull and collect good ideas and programs and distill these ideas and experiences into model drug laws.”

The Commissioners held five public hearings (Detroit, Philadelphia, San Diego, Tampa, and Washington, D. C.) and several working sessions to draft legislative proposals. They conducted site visits to three alcohol and other drug treatment programs, and listened to and met  with hundreds of individuals, agencies, and groups.

CREATING THE MODEL LAWS   Individual Commissioners learned from one another, and misperceptions and differences  gave way to understanding and consensus. From this new understanding came 44  model laws and policies which offer a comprehensive continuum of responses  and services to fully address alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse problems.  Tough sanctions punish those persons who refuse to abide by the law. Equally  important, the sanctions are designed to be constructive, promote prevention,  and attempt to leverage alcohol and other substance abusers into treatment.  The 44 legislative remedies are in a Final Report comprising five volumes:

  • Economic Remedies
  • Community Mobilization
  • Crimes Code Enforcement
  • Treatment
  • Drug-Free Families, Schools & Workplaces

In December 1993, the Commissioners submitted their model laws to the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, Attorney General Janet Reno and Dr. Lee Brown, then Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. President Clinton distributed the Final Report and the accompanying treatment study by Rutgers University to state and local leaders early the following year.


Recommendations, no matter how promising, become reality only when they are acted upon. The Commissioners feared that simply mailing out the Final Report would lead to their model laws collecting dust on shelves. Their solution was to create The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to serve as an ongoing resource on the model laws and related state legislation.

Funded by Congressional appropriations, NAMSDL, in coordination  with the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is holding state  model drug law Summits across the country. These two-day events are intense, hands-on workshops designed to educate state individuals  about the model laws and policies.




               National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws                215 Lincoln Ave. Suite 201 Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501                 Phone: 703-836-6100               Fax: 505-820-1750


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