Physician, bestselling author and global thought leader Deepak Chopra has joined the Honorary Board of the Drug Policy Alliance, the U.S.-based organization that leads the flourishing movement for drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.
The DPA Honorary Board (see below) includes prominent figures from both the left and the right who are renowned for their leadership in the fields of law, health, business, media and politics -- from Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, and Sting to former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, U.S. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, and Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Paul Volcker.
Chopra is an Indian-American physician who has sold more than 20 million books worldwide, including 19 New York Times bestsellers. He is a former chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital who went on to found the Chopra Foundation, the Chopra Center for Well-Being and the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. He currently serves as Senior Scientist at the Gallup Organization and as an Adjunct Professor of Executive Programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Chopra wrote passionately in The Huffington Post earlier this year about the moral dimensions of the war on drugs and mass incarceration:
"When was the last time Congress or the states looked at prisons with a moral eye? America leads the world in the number of people incarcerated, more by percentage of population than in Stalin's gulag. A vast disproportion are black. A huge number are nonviolent drug offenders, often condemned to outrageous time behind bars thanks to draconian state and federal laws with mandatory sentencing. A recent New Yorker article that outlined the grim statistics of overcrowding and skyrocketing expense called our prison system America's moral shame."
Chopra emphasized the drug war's vastly disparate effect on communities of color:
Then there is the plight of black America. Dry statistics speak of soaring unemployment, crime, and family breakdown. In the African American community, actual community is hard pressed to survive. Poverty is endemic. Seventy-five percent of black babies are born to single mothers. More young black males are in jail than in college. A hugely disproportionate number of black drug users and dealers are arrested and sent to jail compared to their white counterparts, even though actual drug usage is no higher in the black community.
Deepak's passion and thoughtfulness in articulating the moral urgency of drug policy reform provides this burgeoning movement with an ally of enormous significance.
Something that most people might not know about the drug policy reform movement is the broad range of support it enjoys from people all across the political and cultural spectrums. Its supporters run the gamut from social justice activists, public health officials, progressives, libertarians, and academics, to law enforcement, judges, conservatives, elected officials, and religious leaders, to active drug users, people in recovery, currently and formerly incarcerated people, and the loved ones of victims of HIV/AIDS, fatal drug overdoses, and prohibition-related violence. These people might not agree on much, but they all agree on one thing -- that the war on drugs is doing far more harm than good.
DPA Honorary Board
Former Mayor Rocky Anderson
Former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci
Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
Walter Cronkite [1916-2009]
Dr. Vincent Dole [1913-2006]
Former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss
Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders
U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner
Former Police Chief Penny Harrington
Former President of the Czech Republic Václav Havel [1936-2011]
Former Governor Gary Johnson
U.S. District Court Judge John Kane
Former Attorney General Nicholas deB. Katzenbach [1922-2012]
Former Police Chief Joseph McNamara
Former Police Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy [1920-2011]
Dr. Beny J. Primm
Former Mayor Kurt Schmoke
Dr. Charles Schuster [1930-2011]
Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet
Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul Volcker