A first-ever bill to federally decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs—and incentivize states to follow suit—is being introduced in Congress.
The measure, which will be filed later this week, is timed to coincide with the 50-year anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a war on drugs that has contributed to mass incarceration, disproportionately impacted communities of color and created collateral consequences for countless Americans who have been criminalized for possessing certain psychoactive substances.
Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Cori Bush (D-MO) are sponsoring the legislation, which aims to promote a public health- and evidence-based approach to substance misuse. The bill is titled the Drug Policy Reform Act (DPRA) and was drafted in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
The proposal would end the threat of incarceration for people caught possessing drugs for personal use. Courts would still have the option of imposing a fine, but that could be waived if a person couldn’t afford it.