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Rufus King Receives Lifetime Achievement Award


March-April 1998

On March 25, the Alliance of Reform Organizations (ARO) presented Rufus King, Esq. with a lifetime achievement award at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The ceremony was organized by Eric Sterling of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation and included a host committee with representatives of the ACLU, Common Sense for Drug Policy (CSDP) , the Drug Policy Foundation, NORML and the Lindesmith Center. NewsBriefs staff attended the event. Notes from Kevin Zeese at CSDP were used to compile this report.

Eric Sterling read letters of congratulations from a wide range of people including Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, Harvard professor Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Virginia activist Lennice Werth, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet, D.C. Superior Court Judge Rufus King, Jr. (the awardee's son) and other distinguished judges and lawyers.

King, 81, told the 60-person audience stories of his work in 1955 organizing and leading the Joint Committee on Narcotic Drugs of the American Bar Association and American Medical Association, which issued a ground-breaking critique of the prohibition paradigm. He recounted a few of his battles with former head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger, during the 1950s. He urged drug policy reform activists to work hard, stay passionate and not become drug policy reform professionals. He promised to continue his life long work for reform. The occasion, King's 81st birthday, concluded with "Happy Birthday to You" and chocolate cake.

In 1953, Rufus King's article for the Yale Law Journal, "Narcotics Bureau and the Harrison Act: Jailing the Healers and the Sick," was one of the first post-war establishment critiques of prohibition. Among his books is The Drug Hangup: America's Fifty-Year Folly, published by W.W. Norton in 1973. In 1989, King received the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Scholarship and Writing from the Drug Policy Foundation.

This was the second lifetime achievement award given by ARO. The first was given to Arnold Trebach, Ph.D., in a ceremony last fall at the Drug Policy Foundation Conference in New Orleans.

ARO, c/o Common Sense for Drug Policy - 3619 Tallwood Terrace, Falls Church, VA 23041, Tel: (703) 354-5694, Fax: (703) 354-5695.

Rufus King, Esq. - Berliner & Maloney, 1101 17th Street, NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20036, Tel: (202) 293-5555, Fax: (202) 293-9035.