Text: H.Res.933 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (06/12/2018)

 
[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H. Res. 933 Introduced in House (IH)]

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115th CONGRESS
  2d Session
H. RES. 933

   To acknowledge that the War on Drugs has been a failed policy in 
     achieving the goal of reducing drug use, and for the House of 
 Representatives to apologize to the individuals and communities that 
                    were victimized by this policy.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             June 12, 2018

     Mrs. Watson Coleman (for herself, Ms. Bass, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. 
    Blumenauer, Ms. Clarke of New York, Mr. Cleaver, Ms. Fudge, Ms. 
Gabbard, Mr. Hastings, Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Jeffries, Ms. 
Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Khanna, Mrs. 
Lawrence, Mr. Lawson of Florida, Ms. Lee, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Ted 
Lieu of California, Mr. McEachin, Ms. Moore, Ms. Norton, Mr. Payne, Mr. 
  Pocan, Mr. David Scott of Georgia, Mr. Serrano, and Mr. Thompson of 
Mississippi) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to 
the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee 
  on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the 
  Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall 
           within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                               RESOLUTION


 
   To acknowledge that the War on Drugs has been a failed policy in 
     achieving the goal of reducing drug use, and for the House of 
 Representatives to apologize to the individuals and communities that 
                    were victimized by this policy.

Whereas, until the early 1900s, most of today's illegal substances were not 
        regulated by the Federal Government, and there was no ``War on Drugs'';
Whereas, in the 1930s, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of 
        Narcotics, Harry J. Anslinger, who was a strong opponent to marijuana, 
        pushed a heavy propaganda campaign to demonize marijuana use, stating 
        that it caused people to be violent and criminals;
Whereas much of this propaganda was racially charged against the Mexican-
        American community, for example as Commissioner Anslinger testified to 
        the 75th Congress in 1937 that, ``I wish I could show you what a small 
        marijuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish speaking 
        residents. That's why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage 
        of our population is composed of Spanish-speaking persons, most of who 
        are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions'';
Whereas, in 1937, the 75th Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which 
        criminalized marijuana, and laws passed during the following years were 
        introduced to institute mandatory minimum sentences for those who 
        bought, sold, and used the drug;
Whereas over the course of the next few decades, studies conducted by scientists 
        did not find any connection between the use of marijuana and violent 
        behaviors, and in 1973 the Shafer Commission Report on Marijuana and 
        Drugs concluded that, ``The Commission believes that the contemporary 
        American drug problem has emerged in part from our institutional 
        response to drug use. . . . We have failed to weave policy into the 
        fabric of social institutions.'';
Whereas despite mounting evidence, the Federal Government's approach to the 
        abuse of drugs continued to be one of criminalizing drug abuse instead 
        of treatment;
Whereas, on June 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs, 
        stating that drug abuse is ``public enemy number one'';
Whereas the Federal Government's attitude toward drug use as a criminal problem 
        only intensified with stricter drug laws, and the Government put little 
        to no focus on treating those impacted;
Whereas the War on Drugs was admitted to be a move by the Nixon administration 
        to attack his political opponents, and in 1994, President Richard 
        Nixon's aide John Ehrlichman admitted in an interview that the War on 
        Drugs was a tool to arrest and manipulate Blacks and liberals stating, 
        ``We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or 
        black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana 
        and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could 
        disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their 
        homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the 
        evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we 
        did.'';
Whereas in 1986, the 99th Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act establishing, 
        for the first time, mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of 
        having specific amounts of cocaine;
Whereas, in 1989, drug czar William Bennett announced a $7,900,000,000 plan to 
        combat the drug epidemic, but 70 percent of that amount went to hiring 
        more law enforcement personnel and building prisons;
Whereas that money could have been better used to help provide treatment to the 
        victims of those on heroin, cocaine, and other drugs;
Whereas, in 1986, the 99th Congress increased the sentences for dealing and 
        possessing crack cocaine, and in a few years, enhanced law enforcement 
        presence loomed over and aggressively policed communities of color;
Whereas to this day, these laws greatly target communities of color, 
        dramatically increasing the incarceration rate of these communities and 
        imposing a stigma that people of color are the main users of drugs, 
        despite White Americans using at a similar if not greater rate;
Whereas Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, Craig 
        Reinarman, and Professor of Sociology at Queens College, Harry G. 
        Levine, studied the use of crack cocaine in the United States and later 
        published in their book, entitled ``Crack in America'', which stated 
        that, ``In the spring of 1986, American politicians and news media began 
        an extraordinary anti-drug frenzy that ran until 1992. Newspapers, 
        magazines and television networks regularly carried lurid stories about 
        a new `epidemic' or `plague' of drug use, especially of crack cocaine. 
        They said this `epidemic' was spreading rapidly from cities to the 
        suburbs and was destroying American society. It is certainly true that 
        the United States has real health and social problems that result from 
        illegal and legal drug use. But it is certainly also true that the 
        period from 1986 through 1992 was characterized by anti-drug 
        extremism.'';
Whereas the use of opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, heroin, 
        and fentanyl has skyrocketed since the late 1990s and the amount of 
        prescription opioids legally sold nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, 
        despite no change in the amount of pain that Americans reported;
Whereas the National Center for Health Statistics suggested that there were more 
        than 64,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, and that a majority of these 
        deaths come from synthetic opioids like fentanyl;
Whereas these drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death, 
        surpassing car accidents;
Whereas, on March 29, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive order to 
        establish the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the 
        Opioid Crisis, and in a preliminary report the Commission has 
        recommended that the opioid crisis, among other things, should be 
        ``declared a national emergency under either the Public Health Service 
        Act or the Stafford Act'';
Whereas many scholars, journalists, and civic leaders have addressed the strong 
        contrast to the urgency of helping those impacted by opioids compared to 
        those who were impacted by crack cocaine and other substances during the 
        War on Drugs;
Whereas the terminology used to describe those impacted by the opioid epidemic 
        is ``victims'', and the terminology used to describe those impacted by 
        the War on Drugs is ``criminals'';
Whereas if the concept of equity was considered, meaning that individuals fairly 
        receive what they need in order to create a level playing field, the 
        same funds and support going to help those impacted by opioids will also 
        go to help those impacted by heroin, cocaine, and the other drugs 
        classified in the War on Drugs;
Whereas as stated by Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, ``White 
        brothers and sisters have been medicalized in terms of their trauma and 
        addiction. Black and brown people have been criminalized for their 
        trauma and addiction.'';
Whereas, on October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid 
        epidemic a public health emergency, which allows access to the Public 
        Health Emergency Fund at the Department of Health and Human Services, 
        which has only tens of thousands of dollars; and
Whereas there has been no formal action by the United States Government to treat 
        the epidemic of drug abuse and the War on Drugs as a health issue: Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives 
that--
            (1) the War on Drugs has failed to achieve its goal of 
        reducing drug use;
            (2) the War on Drugs has created conditions in the United 
        States that has allowed the opioid epidemic to be as deadly as 
        it is;
            (3) the War on Drugs is a racially charged policy that has 
        led to the mass incarceration of millions of Americans, 
        disproportionately affecting communities of color, stigmatized 
        these communities as the cause of the drug problem, and has 
        economically, politically, and socially crippled these 
        communities for decades;
            (4) in order to help those impacted, drug use has to be 
        seen as a health issue and not a criminal issue;
            (5) the House of Representatives should seek to hereby 
        reconsider all laws associated and consistent with the War on 
        Drugs, and prioritizes effective, evidence-based health policy 
        solutions for individuals and communities suffering from 
        addiction;
            (6) the House of Representatives should enact civil 
        remedies and restorative justice for any individual who has 
        been incarcerated or otherwise punished through the Federal 
        criminal justice system due to laws associated and consistent 
        with the War on Drugs;
            (7) Congress affirms that all individuals suffering from 
        the disease of addiction be treated humanely, with equity and 
        respect as all people struggling with any other health matter; 
        and
            (8) the House of Representatives hereby apologizes to the 
        individuals and communities harmed through the War on Drugs and 
        acknowledges that actions by this body have demonized and 
        criminalized addiction for more than 80 years instead of 
        accurately treating it as a health concern.
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