Hot! House Passes Controversial Bill to Further Escalate the Drug War

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill last week giving the Department of Justice sweeping new powers to increase penalties on those using and selling synthetic drugs.

The law, dubbed the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogue Act (SITSA), passed with 239 votes in favor, 142 against, and 46 abstaining.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the new law is a “dangerous” expansion of the drug war that would grant Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice new, unilateral ways to crack down on synthetic drugs, decide on specific sentencing lengths, and lessen congressional oversight.

Defenders of the bill have argued that it is a necessary response to the continuing opioid epidemic in the US. More than 60,000 drug overdoes deaths occurred in 2016 alone–mostly from synthetic drugs like painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl.

In an open letter to House leadership, Human Rights Watch said the bill would overwhelmingly punish drug users and low-level dealers instead of expanding treatment options and targeting the international drug trade. A doubling down of policy they say has proved to be a failure for the past four decades.

Read the full story here.


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