About Eric E. Sterling

Since 1989, Eric E. Sterling has been the Executive Director of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps educate the nation about criminal justice issues and failed global drug policy. Mr. Sterling frequently lectures at colleges, universities, and professional societies throughout the nation and is regularly interviewed by the national news media.

 Mr. Sterling helped found and serves on the board of directors of FAMM (formerly Families Against Mandatory Minimums) (Secretary). He also serves on the boards of directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Andean Information Network, and the Tree of Hope Association (supporting those in recovery in Montgomery County, MD). Mr. Sterling also serves on the advisory boards of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)DrugSenseDrug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), and Flex Your Rights Foundation. He helped found and has served on the boards of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Marijuana Majority (Vice-Chair), FEAR -- Forfeiture Endangers American Rights, the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, and the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers (Chair). Mr. Sterling was Editor-in-Chief of NewsBriefs, the newsletter of the National Drug Strategy Network, for ten years.

From 2013 to 2017, he was a gubernatorial appointee to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission where he was chair of the Policy Committee, a member of the Executive Committee, and principal author of Maryland's medical cannabis regulations. He served on the Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Advisory Council of Montgomery County, MD, from 2009 to 2018 (including three terms as Chair).

From 1979 until 1989, Mr. Sterling was Assistant Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. On the staff of the Subcommittee on Crime, (Rep. William J. Hughes (D-NJ), Chair), he was responsible for drug enforcement, gun control, money laundering, organized crime, pornography, terrorism, corrections, and military assistance to law enforcement, among many issues. He was a principal aide in developing the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988, and other laws. He has traveled to South America, Europe and many parts of the United States to examine the crime and drug problems first hand. In the 96th Congress, he worked on comprehensively rewriting the Federal Criminal Code. Mr. Sterling was honored by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. He was an assistant public defender in Delaware County, Pennsylvania from 1976 to 1979.

Mr. Sterling is admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (inactive). He served on the adjunct faculty of George Washington University and American University in Washington, D.C. His analyses have been published in the Villanova Law Review, Valparaiso Law Review, Fordham Urban Law Journal, American Criminal Law Review, Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review, Margins (Maryland's Law Journal on Race, Religion, Gender, and Class), the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Houston Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, Christian Social Action, Legal Times, Public Management, The Progressive, Law Enforcement News, and other journals. He has contributed to seven books, including Cannabinomics: The Marijuana Policy Tipping Point (2010), How to Legalize Drugs (1998), and Entheogens and the Future of Religion (1997).

His analysis has been featured in a numerous documentary motion pictures and television programs such as “The Sentence” (HBO, 2019 Emmy winner, Sundance Festival awardee, 2018), “Magic Molecule” (2018), “Getting High” (2017), "Incarcerating US" (2016), “420—The Documentary” (Awareness Film Festival, 2013), “Freeway: Crack in the System” (2013), “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” (Tribeca Film Festival, 2012), “Without Bias” (ESPN, 2009), “More Than They Deserve“ (CBS 60 Minutes, 2004), "Snitch" (PBS Frontline, 1999).

In 2017, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Students for Sensible Drug Policy. In 2015, he was presented with the NORML Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In 1999 he was honored with the Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law by the Drug Policy Alliance (then the Drug Policy Foundation). He has served on the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Drug Abuse in Washington, D.C., on the Baltimore Mayor's Task Force on Drug Policy, and numerous civic organizations. For twenty-five years he was very active on the American Bar Association Health Law Section Task Force on Substance Use Disorders. He is a past chair of the Criminal Justice Committee of the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

Mr. Sterling has been quoted on the front pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Christian Science Monitor, and Los Angeles Times. His expert analysis is used by Members of Congress, legislators, nationally syndicated columnists, and television and radio news programs on which he is frequently a guest. He has debated U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, Jr. (D-DE), then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III; then-DEA Administrator Robert Bonner; then-U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), and other officials about the "War on Drugs."

Mr. Sterling received a Bachelor of Arts in 1973 from Haverford College (Pa.) majoring in religion, and his Juris Doctor from Villanova University School of Law in 1976. He graduated from Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in 1968, led wilderness canoe trips for high school students, and climbed the Matterhorn in 1979. He lives in Chevy Chase, MD.