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News Archive 2010

Holiday Fast and Prayed for Justice -- On December 22nd, Eric E. Sterling and the Crack the Disparity Coalition led a fast and prayer and circulated a petition for President Obama to show mercy and to commute unjustly long sentences – like every president before him. The event commemorated the 10-year anniversary of President Clinton’s commutation of Kemba Smith and Dorothy Gaines, two women sent to federal prison for 24 and 19 years, respectively, for playing peripheral roles in their boyfriends’ drug operations.

On November 17th, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the Georgetown University Law Center chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy regarding drug policy and the U.S. Congress.

On November 16th Eric E. Sterling spoke at "Confronting an Oxymoron: Taking Control of 'Controlled Substances,'" a panel discussion sponsored by the New York City Bar Association.

On November 10th, The Drug War Chronicle quoted Eric E. Sterling in a feature article about likely prospects for drug policy reform in a new Republican-led House of Representative.

On November 2nd, Eric E. Sterling spoke regarding U.S. drug policy to international leaders participating in the International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program.

On October 27th, Eric E. Sterling spoke to students at George Washington University Law School regarding marijuana policy and Prop 19, California's Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act.

On October 15th, Eric E. Sterling was quoted in The National Journal and The Atlantic regarding potential outcomes if Prop.19 passes and the Obama Administration subsequently seeks to overturn it in court.

On October 6th Eric E. Sterling moderated a panel titled "The Potential Solutions," at a day-long Author's Symposium and Pavilion sponsored by the Open Society Institute and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

From October 4 - 6, Eric E. Sterling toured the campus of West Virginia University, speaking to students of anthropology and sociology, and to the local chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. WVU's student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum, published an article about one of his talks. He also spoke to several area Rotary clubs as a representative of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

After several former DEA Administrators called for the Department of Justice to challenge Proposition 19, California's Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act in court, Eric E. Sterling posted an analysis on Firedoglake, likening Prop. 19 to the legal and constitutional decision of the New York State Legislature to repeal its alcohol prohibition law in 1923.

On September 9th, Newsweek quoted Eric E. Sterling in an article regarding claims made by opponents of Prop. 19, California's Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act. The article suggests that desire for additional tax revenue may trump scare tactics in the minds of voters. It also references a recent response by Sterling to the California Chamber of Commerce's misleading legal "analysis" of Prop. 19.

Firedoglake reports on September 8th regarding Eric E. Sterling's response to LA County Sheriff Lee Baca's claim that medical marijuana dispensaries increase and attract crime. Baca is also contradicted by the conclusion of the LA Police Chief that "banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries."

On August 6th, Eric E. Sterling was a moderator at the forum of The Voluntary Committee of Lawyers on Marijuana Legalization: Legal and Practical Issues in California, to coincide with the Annual American Bar Association Meeting in San Francisco.

At what age can an individual reasonably be expected to have the maturity to use marijuana? On August 3rd, Eric E. Sterling poses this question in a post titled "Happy Birthday President Obama - What Do You Say Now?" at the website  This website is a joint project of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Firedoglake. Just Say Now is a transpartisan coalition that aims to end marijuana prohibition.

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On July 22nd the Houston Chronicle published "New Law Would Give U.S. Tools to Punish Drug Barons" an op-ed by Eric E. Sterling regarding S. 1789. Known to be an important step in reducing the injustice of the 100-1 crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity, it also would substantially increase fines that can be ordered against large-scale drug traffickers. S. 1789 was approved by the Senate this spring and may be up for a vote in the House of Representatives very soon.

On June 20th, Drug Truth Network posted several clips of Eric E. Sterling discussing drug policy with guest host Otis McLay. Topics covered include mandatory minimum sentences and their enactment, treatment scams, and the Obama Administration's current approach to drug policy.

On June 17th Eric E. Sterling spoke on the topic "Protecting Treatment from the Criminal Justice System" at New Directions DC: A Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy. The day-long event was held on Capitol Hill and sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, National Association of Social Workers, National Black Police Association and Physicians for Human Rights.

On June 7th, Charles Shaw at openDemocracy posted an article about Eric E. Sterling's leadership in drug policy reform, along with The Failed Politics of Sentencing Reform, a paper Sterling released at "Rethinking Federal Sentencing Policy and the 25th Anniversary of the Sentencing Reform Act," an event hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus in June 2009.

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On May 27th, as the United States Sentencing Commission heard expert testimony regarding federal mandatory minimum sentences,Eric E. Sterling was interviewed by Free Speech Radio News about the role of race in drug sentencing.

In response to a May 18 Denver Post editorial, "Will Feds Allow State Pot Laws?," Eric E. Sterling wrote a letter to the editor published on May 20th, explaining that a key obstacle to implementing medical marijuana laws may be the new nominee for DEA adminstrator, Michele Leonhart. He suggests that senators should question her about this issue during confirmation hearings.

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On April 26th, Eric E. Sterling's letter to the editor, written in response to this Washington Post editorial about implementation of the District of Columbia's medical marijuana law was published. Sterling argues that the key obstacle to implementation is federal drug law and the DEA and that the Senate Judiciary Committee should question the nominee for DEA administrator, Michelle Leonhart, about her willingness to work with the growing number of states that have enacted medical marijuana laws. So far, her record in this area is one of marked resistence.

On Sunday, April 25th, Eric E. Sterling spoke to the Peace and Social Justice Committee of the Bethesda Friends Meeting in the Sidwell Friends School about structural racism and American drug policy.

On April 16th and 17th, Eric E. Sterling met with doctors, researchers and patients at the 6th National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics, sponsored by Patients Out of Time, in Warwick, Rhode Island.

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On March 26, 2010, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the Annual Summit of the National African-American Drug Policy Coalition in Silver Spring, MD, about innovative treatment for cocaine addiction.

On March 20, 2010, Eric E. Sterling spoke on the panel, "From Colombia to Mexico: Better Approaches to an Inhumane Drug War," at the annual gathering called Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace and Justice in Arlington, VA. He discussed the necessity and techniques for members of the faith community to reach key partners in the community, such as business leaders, to accomplish their prophetic vision of peace and justice.

On March 10, 2010, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the Institute for International Education in Washington D.C. to 18 top criminal justice officials from12 Francophone African nations who were guests of the U.S. Department of State. His topic was the U.S. criminal justice system and the U.S. Constitution. He arranged for a copy of the U.S. Constitution translated into French to be provided to each official and summarized the criminal justice features of the Constitution. He discussed the complex relationships between municipal, county, state and Federal criminal justice agencies; the problems of racism in the criminal justice system; and issues of drug prohibition and control.

Julia Dahl quotes Eric E. Sterling in "Pipe Dreams," a March 14th post on The Crime Report that is the first in a two-part series examining national trends in marijuana policy. Sterling notes that state legislators' support of marijuana legalization suggests the issue is moving into the mainstream.

On March 13th and 14th, Eric E. Sterling spoke at the National Conference of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. His panels were titled "Is the Drug War Racist?" and "Spirituality and Drug Reform: the moral questions and how to collaborate with university chaplains and the faith community."

In mid-March, Eric E. Sterling submitted a statement to the Maryland General Assembly regarding H.B.712/S.B.627 An Act Concerning Public Health - Medical Marjiuana.

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On February 23, 2010, Eric E. Sterling testified at a rescheduled hearing of the Washington, DC City Council Committees on Health and Public Safety and the Judiciary in support of B18-622, a bill that would amend the District of Columbia's medical marijuana law.

On February 6, 2010, Eric E. Sterling and Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance appeared with David Evans and John Coleman in the inaugural broadcast of Two Way Street, a PBS Series in which experts with opposing opinions discuss pressing issues.

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On January 27, 2010, Eric E. Sterling testified before the Virginia House of Delegates on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) regarding medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization bills in the State of Virginia. His testimony is available here and here.

On January 20, 2010, CJPF co-sponsored an open forum on Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) organized by the Drug Policy Alliance and George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Speakers included domestic and international research scientists and local policy makers.