Congress Launches Commission To Reassess War On Drugs

Congress will commission an evaluation on the government's approach toward illegal drugs to determine whether its existing approaches are efficient and effective in regulating substances domestically and abroad.

The Senate passed Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York's legislation on Dec. 10 to create a Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission, which will head to President Barack Obama's desk and pass into law pending his signature, according to a press release from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs official website.

The commission will look into American drug policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, and will send recommendations to the U.S. government based on which programs they deem to be successful.

"Over the last few decades, we've spent billions and billions of taxpayer dollars on counternarcotics programs in Latin America and the Caribbean," Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in the press release. "The Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission will force us to take a fresh look at our drug policy and make sure we have the best strategy moving forward. We need to have an honest assessment of what has worked and what has failed as we consider how to spend our counternarcotics dollars in the future. With heroin use on the rise here at home, our children deserve no less than a fair evaluation of our drug policy."

The president and Congress will select a panel of 10 members, who will have 18 months to investigate and submit their recommendations, Marijuana.com reports.

President-elect Donald Trump has spoken about relaxing certain laws that prioritize law enforcement over help for addicts, notes the Eagle-Tribune.

"It is tragedy enough that so many Americans are struggling with life-threatening addiction," Trump said during an October campaign rally, according to the Eagle-Tribune. "We should not compound that tragedy with government policies and bureaucratic rules that make it even harder for them to get help."

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, on the other hand, is notoriously tough in terms of enforcing drug use laws and mandatory minimum sentences with a lesser emphasis on treatment, in the face of a surge in opioid addiction in the governor's state of Indiana.

Trump has not released any official proposals regarding his stance on drug policy enforcement.

Sources: House Committee on Foreign AffairsMarijuana.com, Eagle-Tribune / Photo Credit: Coast Guard News/Flickr

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