Biography/Memoir

Congress [appears to] want… to give Jeff Sessions unprecedented new drug war powers

The House bill also gives Congress 180 days to write and pass legislation reversing a temporary scheduling order, but says nothing about reversing a permanent scheduling order [by Jeff Sessions]. Why the House would tie its own hands in a matter like this is mystifying … SITSA establishes a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison for Schedule A offenders with no prior drug convictions … Despite the use of “synthetic analog” in the bill title, the criteria for inclusion in Schedule A says only “drug or substance.”

Fans of the herbal opioid remedy kratom have expressed concerns about SITSA, as have nootropic users and research chemical enthusiasts. The combined vagueness and broadness of this bill should worry all of them. While the immediate justification for the bill is fentanyl, the legislation is so much broader than that. Were coffee and booze not historically entrenched in our culture, this bill would absolutely allow the DOJ to add both caffeine (as a stimulant) and alcohol (as a sedative) to Schedule A of the Controlled Substances Act … [From the Bill] In addition to creating a new class of Controlled Substances, both bills give the Justice Department unprecedented power to criminalize compounds that aren’t regulated by the FDA or already a Controlled Substance. Here’s a brief rundown of provisions common to both versions of SITSA: Allow the Attorney General to use emergency scheduling powers to place a substance in Schedule A for up to five years, whereas current emergency scheduling powers allow for a maximum ban length of two years. (The additional length of time matters because temporary scheduling is not subject to judicial review.) The bill’s criteria for inclusion in Class A of the Controlled Substances Act is incredibly broad. It includes any substance that is not already scheduled and is chemically similar to any drug in classes I-V (schedule I drugs are illegal save for research that must be approved and supervised by the DEA; drugs in the remaining schedules can be prescribed); has “an actual or predicted” stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect similar to that of any drug in classes I-V. The methods for determining those similarities are pretty vague in both versions of the bill and will almost certainly be interpreted by the DOJ in a way that makes it easiest for them to do what they want. If a drug fits the above criteria, and the Attorney General believes that scheduling it under the CSA “will assist in preventing abuse or misuse of the drug or other substance” [itals mine], the A.G. has met all of the criteria necessary to schedule the drug. SITSA establishes a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison for Schedule A offenders with no prior drug convictions, and 15 years if ingestion of the substance results in “serious bodily injury or death”; those maximums rise to 20 and 30 years if the offender has a prior felony drug conviction. Importers of Class A drugs will face statutory maximums of 20 years (30 years if they have a prior felony drug conviction), and a maximum of life in prison if consumption of the drug they imported results in serious bodily injury or death.

Original Article (Reason Blog):
Congress Wants To Give Jeff Sessions Unprecedented New Drug War Powers
Artwork Fair Use: ECfES

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