Drug policy reform advocates are condemning the House’s passage of a bill that would ramp up federal criminalization of fentanyl analogues—criticizing the move as a backwards, punitive response to the overdose crisis—even if it does contain additional provisions to streamline research into Schedule I drugs like marijuana and psychedelics.
The House approved the Halt All Lethal Trafficking of Fentanyl (HALT) Act in a 289-133 vote on Thursday, with 74 Democrats joining all but one Republican in advancing the legislation to the Senate.
The measure would classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), including analogues that haven’t proven to carry the same risks as the most well-known potent opioid. Advocates say the scheduling action would increase mandatory minimum sentences, reflecting an outmoded war on drugs mentality that would contribute to mass incarceration.
“It appears many of my colleagues haven’t learned the lessons of the failed war on drugs,” Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said following the vote. “We’ve seen an explosion of our prison populations, while drug overdoses continue to climb. Our nation’s overdose crisis is a public health issue, not criminal one.”
It appears many of my colleagues haven’t learned the lessons of
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