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The Criminalization of Addiction: Law, Medicine, and Future Directions

March 31st @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Description

In Commonwealth v. Eldred, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that a court may order a defendant who is addicted to substances to remain drug free as a condition of probation and that if a defendant tests positive for an illegal substance, the defendant may be found in violation of his or her probation. Join us for a discussion of this important case. Attorney Lisa Newman-Polk, who litigated Eldred, will discuss the legal landscape regarding criminalization of addiction. Dr. Alexander Walley will contextualize substance use disorder as a medical illness. Dr. Stephanie Tabashneck will then lead a discussion on the implications of criminalizing substance use disorder.


  • Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Lisa Newman-Polk, lawyer and licensed certified social worker
  • Alexander Walley,  Professor of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; Director, Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program; Co-Director, Fellow Immersion Training Program in Addiction Medicine; Associate Director, Faster Paths to Treatment Addiction Urgent Care Clinic; and Medical Director, Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Stephanie Tabashneck, PsyD, JD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center

This event is part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. 


Date: March 31st
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Calendars: Public Events, School-wide Events, University-wide Events