May 25, 2023

Congresswomen Watson Coleman and Bush Denounce Passage of harmful HALT Fentanyl Act and Urge a Course Correction on Failed Substance Abuse Policy

Washington, D.C. (May 25, 2023) - Today, Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Cori Bush (MO-01) released the following statement upon the passage of the HALT Fentanyl Act:  

“It appears some of our colleagues have learned nothing from the devastating impact of our nation's failed war on drugs. In the more than 50 years since the War on Drugs was declared, we’ve seen an explosion of our prison populations, while drug overdoses continue to climb. The permanent classification of all fentanyl related substances (FRS) on the Schedule I list imposes mandatory minimums and expands rather than winds down our failed policy towards illicit drugs.   

“Instead of criminal punishments, we should be addressing our nation’s drug use and overdose crisis as the public health issue it is. The criminalization of poverty, drug use and possession, inequitable access to resources, and the militarization of police have all had devastating impacts, particularly on Black and brown communities.  

“Without proper redress and structural solutions rooted in equity and public health, lives will continue to be at risk and our nation’s families and communities will continue to be destabilized. We have an opportunity to fully transform federal drug policy in our country. We must correct our path towards one of compassion and healing, not continue down the road of the failed policies of the past.”   

In 2021, Congresswomen Watson Coleman and Bush introduced the Drug Policy Reform Act which would, among other changes, shifts the regulatory authority for substances listed under the Controlled Substances Act from the Attorney General to the Secretary of HHS and center drug policy in efforts to help those struggling with addiction.