Leo Beletsky is an Associate Professor of Law and Health Sciences at Northeastern University, where he is the faculty director of the Health in Justice Action Lab. He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Beletsky’s expertise is in the public health impact of laws and their enforcement, with special focus on drug overdose, infectious disease transmission, and criminal justice reform through a public health lens.  

Throughout his career, Professor Beletsky has applied his skills and expertise in service to governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the City of New York. Beletsky received his undergraduate training in geography from Vassar College and Oxford University, a master’s in public health from Brown University, his law degree from Temple University School of Law, and his post-doctoral training at the Yale University Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS. 



  • JD
  • MPH


Research Interests:

  • Substance use, overdose, unintentional injury, infectious disease, public health law, criminal justice, human rights



  • Drug Law and Policy
  • Global Health
  • Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning


Selected Honors & Awards:

  • Vera Institute of Justice, Criminal Justice Reform Influencer (2017)
  • College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Full Member (2013)
  • ASLME/St. Louis University, Health Law Scholar (2012)


Selected Recent Publications:

  • Beletsky L, Baker P, Arredondo J, Emuka A, Goodman-Meza D, Medina-Mora ME, Werb D, Davidson P, Amon JJ, Strathdee SA and Magis-Rodriguez C. The global health and equity imperative for safe consumption facilities. The Lancet 2018; 392(10147):553-4. [download]
  • Dasgupta N, Beletsky L (joint first authors), Ciccarone D. Opioid Crisis: No Easy Fix to Its Social and Economic Determinants. American Journal of Public Health. 108(2):182-186. [download]
  • Beletsky L. Using Choice Architecture to Integrate Substance Use Services with Primary Care. Journal of Addiction Medicine. 2018;12(1):1-3. [download]
  • Beletsky L, and Davis, CS. Today’s Fentanyl Crisis: Prohibition’s Iron Law, Revisited. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2017;46:156-159. [download]
  • Piñedo M, Beletsky L, Alamillo N, et al. Health-damaging policing practices among persons who inject drugs in Mexico: are deported migrants at greater risk? International Journal of Drug Policy. 2017;46:41-46. [download]
  • Cepeda J, Beletsky L, Sawyer A, Smelyanskaya M, and Sherman SG. Occupational Safety in the Age of the Opioid Crisis: Needle Stick Injury among Baltimore Police. Journal of Urban Health. 2017;94(1):100-103. [download]
  • Leo Beletsky, Deploying Prescription Drug Monitoring to Address the Overdose Crisis: Ideology Meets Reality, 15 Indiana Health Law Review 139 (2018). [download]


Selected Public Service:

  • Massachusetts Harm Reduction Commission, Appointed Member
  • Pew Charitable Trusts, Substance Use Prevention & Treatment Initiative, Consultant



  • NY Times: “Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers” (September 17, 2017) [link];
  • BBC News: “Officers Rue the Return of the ‘War on Drugs'” (April 18, 2017) [link];
  • NPR: “U.S. Attorney Investigating Mass. Prison Officials’ Treatment Of Inmates With Addictions” (March 29. 2018) [link]; “Wolf’s reluctance to back Philly injection site leaves door open to U.S. crackdown” (May 9, 2018) [link]; “Is It Addiction Treatment Or Prison? A Look Inside A State Center For Involuntary Commitments” (September 13, 2017) [link];



  • New York State Bar


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