Richard Bonnie

Richard J. Bonnie

Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law Emeritus
(434) 924-3209

Richard J. Bonnie is Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law Emeritus at the Law School, having retired from teaching in 2023. He formerly served as director of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Bonnie has co-authored leading textbooks on criminal law and public health law and has devoted special attention during his career to public policies relating to mental health and substance abuse. His first book, “The Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States” (1974) was republished in 1999 as a “drug policy classic.”

Bonnie has been involved in public service throughout his career. Among other positions, he has been associate director of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1971-73) and secretary of the first National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse (1976-80). He chaired a Commission on Mental Health Law Reform at the request of the chief justice of Virginia (2006-11) and an Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health Reform for the Virginia General Assembly (2016-19).

Bonnie was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1991 and has chaired more than a dozen studies for the National Academies on subjects ranging from elder mistreatment to underage drinking, including the landmark report, “Ending the Tobacco Problem: A Blueprint for the Nation” (2007). In 2017, he chaired a study on policies needed to address the opioid epidemic in the United States and in 2019, he chaired a study on using knowledge about adolescent development to advance the well-being of all adolescents regardless of social background.

Bonnie has ­served as an adviser to the American Psychiatric Association since 1979, received the APA’s Isaac Ray Award in 1998 for contributions to forensic psychiatry and special presidential commendations in 2003 and 2016 for service to American psychiatry. He has also served on three MacArthur Foundation research networks, including, most recently, Law and Neuroscience. He is also a consultant to the American Academy of Neurology’s Committee on Ethics, Law and Humanities.

Bonnie received the University of Virginia’s highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, in 2007.

Full Publications List

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Criminal Law
Germs, Guns, and Lead: Public Health Ethics and Law
Law & Ethics in Medical Practice
Mental Health Law
Legal and Moral Reasoning in Public Policy
Tobacco Policy
Aging and the Law

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