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.