It is with great sadness that today we announce the passing of our beloved colleague, Ed Jurith. During his distinguished career at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Mr. Jurith was appointed twice to serve as Acting Director—first by President Clinton in 2001, then by President Obama in 2009. Since 1994, he also served as ONDCP’s General Counsel, Senior Counsel and Director of Legislative Affairs.
With his characteristic intelligence, deep insight and good humor, Mr. Jurith embodied the best of public service. He was one of the brightest minds in drug policy, with more than 30 years of Federal policy-making experience. He came to ONDCP from the U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, where Mr. Jurith was Staff Director from 1987 to 1993 and Counsel for five years prior to that. While on staff at the Select Committee, he was instrumental in the development of the Anti-Drug Abuse Acts of 1986 and 1988—which set the framework for U.S. drug policy, and established this very office 25 years ago.
Mr. Jurith’s reputation as a leader in drug policy crossed international borders. In 1997, he served as an Atlantic Fellow in Public Policy at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, where he researched and lectured on drug policy issues. As part of the Atlantic Fellowship, Mr. Jurith assisted the UK Anti-Drugs Coordinator in the development of the Blair government’s strategy for reducing substance use. He lectured widely on drug policy at U.S. and British universities and authored numerous publications in the arena of substance abuse and drug policy. In addition, Mr. Jurith represented the United States on the board of the World Anti-Doping Agency for many years.
Back home, in 2010 he became an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law, where he taught a seminar on the intersection of law and drug policy. His class was extremely popular—enrollment in Mr. Jurith’s course increased from seven students in its first year to capacity (plus a wait list) in the second year. In the words of the College of Law’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs, students found him both engaging in the classroom and interested in their professional development outside the classroom.
Prior to his federal government service, Mr. Jurith was an attorney in private practice in his native New York City. He graduated, cum laude, from American University in 1973 and received a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School in 1976. As a member of the New York, District of Columbia and U.S. Supreme Court Bars, Mr. Jurith served on the Advisory Committee of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Substance Abuse, as well as the District of Columbia Bar Lawyer Assistance Program, a program providing assistance to law students, lawyers and judges with substance use and/or mental health disorders.
Mr. Jurith is survived by his wife, Kathleen Healy, and his sons Theodore and William. We keep his family in our thoughts and prayers, and honor Ed’s memory by renewing our commitment to the crucial work to which he dedicated his career.