By Lizet Gonzalez
WASHINGTON, D.C.– The House of Representatives this week passed a five-month extension of the temporary—it was initiated by the Trump Administration—class-wide emergency scheduling order of fentanyl-related substances that was set to end May 6, 2021.
Critics said it is a punitive drug policy that continues to disproportionately criminalize Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities, noting in the past the same was done in the 1980s crack cocaine hysteria, and it is now shifted to a new drug, fentanyl, they charge.
The Deputy Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, had a strong reaction on the passing of the policy, arguing “We implore the Senate to think twice before legislating off of hysteria and fear, and instead, see this for what it is—a public health issue that demands a public health solution.”
Deputy Director Grant Smith reiterated that, instead of changing an outdated approach on a public health issue, the Biden Administration has decided to extend this policy, and continue the use of similar tough-on-crime drug war policies that date back to the 1980s.
Smith argues this wrongfully shifts blame onto drugs instead of the actual culprit: state violence. It also ignores the fight for criminal justice reform, said Smith, stressing, “[T]he first thing Congress should be addressing is a complete overhaul of policing in this country, not extending harmful Trump-era punitive drug policies.”
The recurrence and revival of punitive drug policies should be approached as a public health crisis, critics of the Biden decision said.
The tough-on-crime drug policies did not work then and will not work in the present time, they maintain.
Deputy Director Smith said, “Make no mistake, this extension will increase these racial disparities, and from what we have seen so far it already has.”
Lizet Gonzalez is in her final year at San Francisco State University, majoring in Criminal Justice and Spanish. Born in Acapulco, Mexico, she currently resides in the Bay Area.
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