Despite starting with relatively noble intentions, the drug war is considered an unmitigated failure by many. Not only did it fail to sufficiently curb drug use or suppress the criminal enterprises behind the drug trade, but it also ensured that certain communities were intensely policed and harshly sentenced for decades. Now that America’s state-legal cannabis sector is steadily growing, some policies from the drug war era that have endured may be creating “systemic barriers” for these communities.
As such, the White House, via its drug policy arm, has opened a 30-day comment period in a bid to see whether existing drug policies have barred underserved communities from accessing opportunities and whether policymakers can create programs to help ensure equity. Additionally, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (“ONDCP”) is also seeking counsel from drug users to see how it could better involve them when creating policies that ultimately impact them. The ONDCP published the notice in the Federal Register, and the notice is bound to attract plenty of attention from drug reform advocates.
The ONDCP was founded in the 1980s, with help from President Joe Biden who was a senator at the time. Over the years, the agency has been quite resistant to drug reform such as cannabis legislation, and advocates have often questioned whether the office is even necessary. The notice for feedback on how drug policies may affect equity wasn’t issued independently by the agency; rather, it is part of a governmentwide executive order signed by President Biden in January.
Specifically, the executive order requires agencies to determine whether their programs and policies provide systemic barriers for underserved communities and people of color and bars these individuals from accessing opportunities and benefits, the ONDCP says. Via a series of prompts, the agency states that it is looking for more perspectives from people of wide-ranging backgrounds, especially those who were disproportionately impacted by America’s drug policies to help guide its efforts in the future. The White House’s drug policy arm is currently in charge of the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program, which enables the war on drugs, and sufficient feedback could help the office tailor its policies and reduce the intense policing and harsh sentencing that communities of color face.
The agency is also interested in receiving feedback from “people who use drugs,” especially those who are usually left out of household surveys, to aid in the process of developing national drug control policy. Individuals who would like to provide feedback to the ONDCP can do so at OGC@ondcp.eop.gov until Aug. 6, 2021.
Hopefully the comments sent will result in the formulation of policies that make it easier for medical marijuana users to access devices such as the RYAH Smart Inhaler made by RYAH Group Inc. (CSE: RYAH), which helps cannabis users to determine the dosage of medical marijuana they consume.
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