Proposed bill would decriminalize all drugs federally, not just marijuana

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Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled a measure to end criminal penalties at the federal level for the possession of all drugs, including marijuana.

The Drug Policy Reform Act, which is expected to be formally introduced in the next few days, underscores how decriminalization and legalization are advancing at the federal level – even though it’s uncertain how far this bill will get.

The announcement by Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey and Cori Bush of Missouri came two days ahead of the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s declaration of a federal “war on drugs.”

“We have an opportunity to put this dark chapter in history behind us,” Watson Coleman said during a news conference organized by the Drug Policy Alliance.

The lawmakers said they are just beginning to work to get more support, such as a Senate sponsor of a companion bill.

However, it remains to be seen whether the measure will get a hearing in the U.S. House.

The bill also would:

  • Shift regulatory authority from the U.S. attorney general to the secretary of Health and Human Services.
  • Reinvest in health-focused approaches to treating substance abuse.
  • Expunge drug records and provide for resentencing.
  • Issue incentives to states to follow suit in decriminalizing all drugs.