By Phillip Smith
Longtime New York-based drug reform activist Doug Greene died Tuesday evening in a subway accident on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He was only 52.
According to police and media reports, Greene and fellow activist Todd Hinden had attended a George Clinton concert in Central Park, then parted ways as Hinden hopped on his bicycle and Greene headed down into the subway, where he fell onto the tracks.
Police reported that “a man was fatally struck by an A train after he fell onto the subway tracks on the Upper West Side Tuesday night,” adding that he was hit by “a southbound express train at the 72 St. station near Central Park West just before 10:45pm.” His identity was confirmed on Wednesday, and police confirmed “they did not suspect foul play.”
Greene spent more than half his life as a drug reformer, and has been a ubiquitous presence in the New York City and Albany reform community, as well as at NORML, Drug Policy Alliance, and other drug reform conferences around the country since the ’90s. His friendships readily spanned both the grassroots and professional drug reform classes. I can’t count the times I’ve run into him in the hallways or shared moments outside while we smoked.
He was a stalwart of Empire State NORML, and was serving as board member and legislative director. While he enjoyed a good marijuana protest as much as anybody, Greene focused his attention on Albany and the legislative process, mastering parliamentary arcana and lobbying lawmakers regularly — some of them might say relentlessly.
Greene was also an advocate of ibogaine for addiction treatment, and had trained to be an ibogaine therapist. He was active with the group Cures Not Wars. He wrote an article about ibogaine and the movement for this newsletter, here.
He also worked tirelessly on coalition building in drug reform movement, and at his death, was pushing hard to keep momentum alive for the state’s marijuana legalization bill, which has seen its chances fade in recent days. Some friends think exhaustion from the effort contributed to the accident.
Though his best known activism was in drug policy, Greene was an active member of the NYC vegetarian community, and supported animal rights. His conference agenda always included checking out local vegetarian restaurants with friends. At times he was active with the Libertarian Party as well.
Beyond his work in the movement, Doug Greene was just a nice guy. I didn’t consider him a close friend, more a conference buddy or reform movement colleague. But when wildfires ripped through my Northern California community in 2017, Doug called me up to check on me. That’s the kind of guy he was.
Doug, we’re sorry you’re gone so young and tragically and before you were able to see your life’s work come to fruition, but the rest of us are going to make it happen. And it would make a fitting tribute to all your efforts to put your name on it.