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NYT: Three Bills Congress Could Pass to Dismantle War on Drugs

NYT Editorial Board (12/12) –– There are three bills floating through Congress right now that could not only save lives and money but also help to finally dismantle the nation’s failed war on drugs. The Medicaid Re-entry Act, EQUAL (Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law) Act and the MAT (Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment) Act all have bipartisan support and could be passed during the lame duck session of Congress. Lawmakers should act on them without delay.

The MAT Act would eliminate the special DEA waiver that doctors must apply for in order to prescribe buprenorphine. It would enable community health aides to dispense this medication as long as it’s prescribed by a doctor through telemedicine. And it would give SAMHSA responsibility to start a national campaign to educate health care practitioners about medications for opioid use disorder. [...]

The Medicaid Re-entry Act would allow states to reactivate Medicaid for inmates up to one month before their scheduled release from prison. [...] Among other risks, they are between 50 and 150 times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks after their release. Closing the post-incarceration treatment gap would go a long way toward reducing such deaths. [...]

The EQUAL Act would eliminate the federal sentencing disparity between drug offenses involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine. That disparity was created by a 1986 law that equated 50 grams of crack with 5,000 grams of powder cocaine and subjected possession of either to a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Read more

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