For most of the past century the United States has adopted increasingly punitive policies toward the possession, use and distribution of drugs; and, particularly in the last 50 years, has built a massive regime to enforce those policies.
Prohibition and the drug war have failed. Punitive policies have achieved no reduction in supplies or prices, but instead have created illicit markets that have fostered violence and unnecessarily risky and harmful conditions for people who use drugs. They have led to militarized tactics that thwart the spirit of the constitution and have led to the deaths of countless Black and Brown people. And the drug war apparatus has cost the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in direct enforcement and incarceration costs, and collateral impacts on the lives of those caught in its path.
The time has come to try a new approach: drug decriminalization. The federal approach should be health focused, evidence-based, and respectful of self-determination.
The DPA proposal for decriminalization, the Drug Policy Reform Act, takes these first steps in dismantling the punitive apparatus built up over the past 50 years. To begin refocusing federal drug policies, the legislation: