A new bill introduced to Congress proposes to decriminalize all drugs. Most of America was awaiting the decriminalization of Cannabis, or even legalization, but it appears some Democrats are trying to go all the way. The bill has been introduced by US Representatives Cori Bush and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Oregon made national news in February when their drug decriminalization went into full effect. This may have inspired Bush and Coleman to write up the Drug Policy Reform Act (DRPA). This Act would end criminal penalties for “personal use” drug possession at the federal level. It would also remove criminal records, and shift the regulatory authority from the attorney general to the secretary of Health and Human Services.
People could still face fines for drug possessions. But, the court could waive this if the person is unable to pay. A benchmark will still need to be determined for the amount considered for “personal use”. This will of course vary based on the drug. The bill would also limit state and local funding should they choose not to adopt decriminalization policies.
Under the DPRA, a criminal drug possession charge would not be grounds to deny someone employment or terminate an employee. The act would restore voting rights to those previously convicted of drug possession. Treatment is also a focal point of the act. It would require the expansion of treatment programs including medication-assisted treatment, peer support, and recovery services.
President Biden has semi-supported this movement stating on his campaign trail he would “reschedule cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts.” Matt Sutton of the Drug Policy Alliance, had this to say about DRPA:
“We will be building support for all drug decriminalization, which will end the more far-reaching harms of the drug war…Specifically for people who use other drugs or have other drug convictions, and lead to a health-centered alternative approach to drugs in this country.”