Participants: Marijuana & Drug Policy Reform in New York—The LaGuardia Report at 70

Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., is currently a Senior Resident in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at New York University Langone Medical Center and will soon begin a clinical fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. He has published original research and reviews in Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Clinical Journal of Pain, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, and many others, and has published chapters in The Pot Book and Principles and Practices of Palliative Care and Supportive Oncology. His dissertation research in medical geography examined the political ecology of mental distress and health-related quality of life, pain management, and symptom relief in medical cannabis-using patients in Washington State. He is a member of The New York Academy of Medicine.

Jeffrion Aubry is New York State Assemblyman from the 35th District and the New York State Speaker pro tempore. He is a member of the following committees: Ways and Means, Rules, Social Services and Governmental Employees. As Chairman of the Committee on Correction, Assemblyman Aubry successfully championed legislation enacted in 2009 that significantly reformed the Rockefeller Drug Laws and led the fight to ensure that prisoners suffering from serious mental illness received the treatment they needed and are not confined under inhumane conditions, which was achieved through enactment of the Special Housing Unit Exclusion Law.

Richard J. Bonnie, J.D., is Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, Professor of Public Policy and Director, Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy. He was associate director of the Shafer Commission (aka the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse), served as an advisor on drug policy to the Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations, and is the author of The Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1991 and has chaired numerous IOM and NRC studies on drug, alcohol, and tobacco policy, including Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility (2004) and Ending the Tobacco Problem: Blueprint for the Nation (2007).

Alexandra Chasin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, the New School. Trained as a scholar in 20th-Century U.S. literature and culture, she taught in those fields for many years, focusing on gender, race, sexuality, and popular culture. During 2013–2014, she held the Leon Levy Fellowship in Biography at the Graduate Center, CUNY, researching and writing a biography of Harry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. A past recipient of a Whiting Dissertation Fellowship, a Bunting Institute Fellowship, and a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts, she is the author of a nonfiction work, Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market (2000), and two books of fiction—Kissed By (2007), a collection of short innovative fictions, and Brief (2012), an “app” novella for the iPad.

David T. Courtwright, Ph.D., is Presidential Professor at the University of North Florida. A past president of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, he has published several books on drug use, drug politics, and drug policy, including Forces of Habit (2001), Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America (rev. ed., 2001), No Right Turn: Conservative Politics in a Liberal America (2010), and Addicts Who Survived (rev. ed., 2012). He is currently writing a book about pleasure, vice, addiction, and capitalism in the modern world.

Kassandra Frederique is a New York Policy Coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance, where she works to build powerful coalitions in communities devastated by drug misuse and the war on drugs. Prior to joining DPA, Frederique completed a year-long internship with DPA’s State Organizing and Policy Project, served as a social worker in New York City schools and domestic violence clinics, organized workers in Chicago and New Orleans, and worked as a higher education paraprofessional in Ithaca and New York City. Frederique earned her master’s degree in Social Work at Columbia University. While pursuing her education, Frederique developed curricula to address social oppression, which were used for more than 4,000 students at orientation. Her passion for challenging social oppression and inequalities led her to work on ending the drug war—which she believes is the amalgamation of all the issues she has worked on thus far.

Jason Glenn, Ph.D., joined the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston’s Institute for the Medical Humanities as Assistant Professor in 2006. With a Ph.D. in the history of science and medicine from Harvard University (2005), he has pursued questions of health inequities, the history of drug policy in the U.S., ethics and history of human subject research, and biological notions of race and discourses of genetic determination. He is a member of UMTB Center for Addiction Research, serves on the IRB as the institutional prisoner representative, and is director of Sobriety High, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing community re-entry services for persons with a history of substance abuse who are returning to Galveston from prison, as well as programs to divert qualifying drug offenders and persons with severe mental health disorders from prison into community treatment programs.

A lifelong resident of New York City, Vanessa L. Gibson has a strong commitment to serving her Bronx community that began when she was a student in the city’s public school system, led to her successful election to a seat in the New York State Assembly on June 2, 2009 and recently culminated in her election to the New York City Council on November 5, 2013, to represent the 16th Council District of Bronx County. She is Chairperson of the Committee on Public Safety.

Richard Gottfried has represented the 75th District in the New York State Assembly for more than 40 years, making him the longest-serving member of that body.

Helena Hansen, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist and cultural anthropologist of addiction. She is jointly appointed in the anthropology and psychiatry departments at NYU and is a research scientist at Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research. She is currently completing a book based on her field work in Puerto Rican addiction ministries entitled Addicted to Christ: Spiritual Capital and Masculinity in Puerto Rican Pentecostal Street Ministries. With Julie Netherland, she is also writing a book on whiteness, addiction pharmaceutical marketing, and the selective decriminalization of prescription opioids.

David Herzberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), is a U.S. cultural historian specializing in the history of medicine, with a particular interest in how encounters with health and illness have been transformed in the 20th century’s consumer culture. His work explores these issues in the context of modern prescription pharmaceuticals, especially sedatives, stimulants, and painkillers. He is the author of Happy Pills in America: From Miltown to Prozac (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), and among other places his work has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health and American Quarterly. He is currently writing a history of prescription drug abuse in 20th-century America.

Julie Holland, M.D., is the editor of The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis. Dr. Holland is also the medical monitor for a clinical study examining the efficacy of using cannabis in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans. She runs a private practice in psychopharmacology in Manhattan and is the author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych ER. She is a Member of The New York Academy of Medicine.

On November 6, 2012, Hakeem Jeffries, J.D., overwhelmingly won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the newly redrawn Eighth Congressional District of New York. Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Budget and Judiciary Committees. In the 113th Congress, he worked on reforming the criminal justice system, addressed gun violence and assisted neighborhoods in the district that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Prior to his election to the Congress, he served for six years in the New York State Assembly. His law degree is from New York University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the Law Review. Rep. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital and raised in Crown Heights. He is a product of New York City’s public school system, having graduated from Midwood High School, and currently lives in Prospect Heights with his family.

Maurice Lacey, LMSW, is the Executive Director of Faith Mission Crisis Center, a behavioral healthcare organization that provides residential crisis services over 1500 men and women annually suffering from substance use disorders. He is also an adjunct lecturer at Fordham University and Hunter College School of Social Work. His specialization is anti-oppression, substance abuse, mental health, criminal justice, public health policy, and leadership development.

Harry Levine, Ph.D., is a sociology professor at the City University of New York. With Craig Reinarman and others he wrote Crack in America: Demon Drugs and Social Justice. His work now focuses on the racist marijuana arrests in NY City and throughout the US. With Loren Siegel, he directs the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, which has created the website, an online library of data, research and journalism about race and policing. His research has been quoted by the New York Times, used by the ACLU, cited by Governor Cuomo, and paraphrased by President Obama.

Melissa Mark-Viverito currently serves as the Speaker of the New York City Council, the first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold a citywide elected position, as well as the first to represent the 8th District, which includes El Barrio/East Harlem and the South Bronx. Speaker Mark-Viverito was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She worked for over a decade in local activism, nonprofit organizations, and labor before being elected to the City Council in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. She served as Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, the founding Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, and as a member of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, and in 2011, was one of the pioneers the first-ever Participatory Budgeting process in New York City. She is a graduate of Columbia College at Columbia University and Baruch College, City University of New York.

Julie Netherland, Ph.D., is the Deputy State Director for the New York Office of the Drug Policy Alliance where she works on a number of issues, such as creating legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients and promoting a public health approach to drug policy. Dr. Netherland is the editor of Critical Perspectives on Addiction (Emerald Press, 2012). She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the City University of New York Graduate Center as well as Masters in Social Work from Boston University.

Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., is the California policy manager for Drug Policy Alliance and leads DPA’s marijuana reform work in California. She is currently a lecturer in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California-Berkeley. Reiman earned her M.S.W. from the Jane Addams College of Social Work, her Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of California-Berkeley, and was previously a marijuana researcher.

Samuel Kelton Roberts, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History at Columbia University and Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University. He writes, teaches, and lectures widely on African-American history, medical and public health history, urban history, and the history of social movements. His book, Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), explores the political economy of health, urban geography, and race from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. He is currently researching and writing on the policy and political history of heroin addiction treatment from the 1950s through the 1990s. Dr. Roberts has affiliations with Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program (HSS), where he served as Coordinator of the RWJ’s Working Group in African-American History and the Health and Social Sciences (AAHHSS). Beginning in July 2014, he will be Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.

gabriel sayegh directs the New York State office of the Drug Policy Alliance, partnering with community organizing groups, human service agencies, and researchers to advance effective drug policies guided by science, equity and compassion. Recent campaigns include ending New York’s marijuana arrest crusade, developing municipal-based drug strategies, passing and implementing historic 911 Good Samaritan legislation to prevent accidental overdose fatalities, creating a tightly-regulated medical marijuana program, and reforming New York’s draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. He is the author of numerous articles and several reports, including Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy (the subject of a New York Times editorial) and From Handcuffs to Healthcare: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform. sayegh joined DPA in 2003.

Deborah Peterson Small, J.D., is the Executive Director of Break the Chains, a public policy research and advocacy organization committed to addressing the disproportionate impact of punitive drug policies on poor communities of color. Break the Chains was founded in the belief that community activism and advocacy is an essential component of progressive policy reform. Break the Chains works to engage families and community leaders in promoting alternatives to the failed “war on drugs” by adopting public health approaches to substance abuse and drug-related crime. Break the Chains is an advocate and voice for those affected most by drug policies but too often unheard in policy debates and decisions.

Maia Szalavitz has written about addiction and drug policy for over 25 years for publications including the New York Times, Washington Post,, Elle and Scientific American Mind. Her next book, Unbroken Brain, will explore why addiction is best viewed as a developmental disorder and what this means for policy. Her 2006 book, Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids, exposed widespread, systematic abuse in teen rehabs.

Paul Theerman, Ph.D., is Associate Director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the New York Academy of Medicine, a position that he has held since 2013. A historian of science and medicine by training, prior to coming to NYAM he held positions at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago; the Smithsonian Institution; and the National Library of Medicine. He has specialized in the documentation of science, technology, and medicine and focuses on issues of science, medicine, and culture. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 1980.

Robert “Bobby” Tolbert has been HIV-positive since 1995, and he became a member of VOCAL-NY in 2005. He was formerly homeless in the New York City shelter system and has worked for much of the past decade as a peer health educator in the Bronx and Brooklyn. A long-time activist for social justice, he has led VOCAL-NY campaigns to expand syringe access, prevent overdose deaths, and hold Wall Street accountable for the financial crisis. As a member of an expert panel convened by the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), he helped develop the “Recommended Best Practices for Effective Syringe Exchange Programs in the United States,” published in 2010, and continues to serve as an advisor to DOHMH around SEPs on a voluntary basis. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including the Associated Press.

Art Way is Colorado senior drug policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, based in Denver. A graduate of Florida Coastal School of Law, he was appalled at the gap between our theoretical constitutional liberties and what he witnessed growing up during the escalation of the drug war in the 1980s. Prior to joining DPA, Way directed the Racial Justice Program at the Colorado Progressive Coalition, where he worked to halt the over-representation of people of color in the state’s criminal justice system. He successfully spearheaded a legislative campaign amending state law regarding police duties during searches. As a result, Colorado has the only consent-to-search legislation in the nation that protects pedestrians as well as motorists. Way currently serves on both the Denver Mayor’s African American Commission and on the Racial and Gender Disparity Committee of the Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission.

1 thought on “Participants: Marijuana & Drug Policy Reform in New York—The LaGuardia Report at 70

  1. Pingback: Marijuana Regulation: The LaGuardia Report at 70 (Item of the Month) | Books, Health and History

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