Bill to Defelonize Personal Drug Possession Filed in U.S. Congress
Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) has filed House Resolution 2153, a proposal to make some federal drug crimes a misdemeanor rather than a felony, while simultaneously eliminating the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
HR 2153, To “reclassify certain low-level felonies as misdemeanors, to eliminate the increased penalties for cocaine offenses where the cocaine involved is cocaine base, to reinvest in our communities, and for other purposes”, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, the House Energy Committee, and the House Education and Workforce Committee.
At this time, the language of the bill is not available Congress’ official website, but what we do know is that it would defelonize the personal possession of most illegal substances, reducing the charge to a misdemeanor. It would also remove the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, which has led to many race-based prosecutions (despite being two forms of the same drug, crack cocaine holds an 18 to 1 sentencing disparity over powdered cocaine).
A similar proposal that would have also defelonized other nonviolent crimes such as petty theft – Proposition 47 – was approved by California voters in last year’s election.