DPRA Introduced in Congress – Would Decriminalize All Drugs

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Following Representative Nadler’s introduction of the MORE Act, which would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, Representatives Cori Bush and Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced the Drug Policy Reform Act (“DPRA”) on June 15, 2021, which would decriminalize all drugs, including cannabis.

Under the DPRA, regulation of all drugs listed in the Controlled Substances Act would be handled by the Department of Health and Human Services, who would be empowered to determine the amount of each drug that constitutes personal use as well as expand access to substance abuse treatment.  Further, the bill provides for the expungement of federal criminal records for simple possession of drugs and provides incentives to states who do the same. The DPRA also provides protections for employees who may have used drugs, preventing employment discrimination based on drug use convictions.  The DPRA forbids denying individuals certain federal benefits, the right to vote, or a drivers’ license based on prior drug use.  Drug use would also no longer be grounds for denying immigration status.  While drug possession below a certain amount would not be criminalized, civil fines could still be issued for such possession.

Oregon has already decriminalized drug possession.  While it’s unlikely the DPRA will be passed into law this legislative session, we may see some states follow Oregon’s lead.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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