Breaking News:URGENT: Call Congress TODAY to Save DC Marijuana Legalization!

Joe Biden Does Something Good On Drug Policy

I've taken swings at Joe Biden a couple times in The Speakeasy, so I'm very pleased to see this:
In a press release that does not seem to be available online, the American Civil Liberties Union praises Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), historically one of the most gung-ho drug warriors in the Democratic Party, for introducing a bill that would eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine powder. Previous proposals would have merely reduced the disparity, in some cases by making cocaine powder sentences more severe. By contrast, Biden's bill would raises the amount of crack that triggers a five-year mandatory minimum sentence to 500 grams, the same as the amount for cocaine powder. [reason]
Here's Biden's statement:
The current sentencing disparity between the two forms of cocaine is based on false notions and old logic. The bottom line is that there is no scientific justification for any disparity. Crack and powder are simply two forms of the same drug, and each form produces identical effects. I will soon be introducing legislation that eliminates the sentencing disparity completely, fixing this injustice once and for all.
Coming from a man whose drug war credentials include authoring the RAVE Act and creating ONDCP, this is an exciting surprise. While many consider fixing the crack/powder sentencing disparity a no-brainer, reducing federal drug sentences is certainly a bold move for Biden.

He's running for president right now, so Biden's willingness to challenge a drug war injustice suggests a shifting perception of the political implications of U.S. drug policy. As obviously flawed as the sentencing disparity is, it's not really that much more palatable than any number of other issues we're working on. If Biden can recognize this problem, there's much more he could potentially come to understand.

(This blog post was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

 

Location: 
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Why I'm not celebrating yet...

Have you seen anything in print yet that says he'll do this by changing crack guidelines to match powder, and not the other way around (other than the statement at Hit and Run)?

I've no particular reason to doubt -- I'm just hesitant to cheer too loudly for Biden yet. I'd like to see the actual bill. Other than quoting the sentencing commission with no real comment, I've seen nothing on Biden's referenced page that specifies that he'll raise the 5-year crack trigger to 500 grams.

- Pete Guither

Good call

I'm ready to praise Biden if he does this, because he's typically been a complete freak show on drug policy. But old habits do die hard, and few in Washington deserve our distrust as much as this man.

Jacob Sullum cites the ACLU as his source for claiming that Biden intends to merely raise crack penalties. I trust the ACLU on this, except that their release doesn't seem to be available online.

We'll see. Even if Biden currently intends to do this the right way, he could change his mind under pressure from his drug warrior friends.

It would be wierd indeed if these long-overdue repairs to the federal sentencing guidelines occured at the impetus of Joe Biden.

does Biden still oppose medical marijuana?

I know he made ignorant comments about it 10 or so years ago (He was against it because how could he explain supporting it to his children).

The bill was introduced.

The bill was introduced. It's S. 1711. It raises the amount of crack to equal the amount of powder and completely eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack.

Thank you.

Yes, this is correct. I got a look at it today. Biden wasn't bluffing.

Two Bills already in House stating same thing

There are two bills already in the house. HR 460 and HR 79. How long is it going to take for these bills to pass? Dealers get sentenced everyday. Are they planning on making this retroactive? Probably not, and they will take there time passing it, since similar bills were introduced in the 108th and 109th and nothing was ever passed. I am starting to lose faith in our system. Its ok for this happen every day but its not ok for Libby to get a 33 month sentence?

"Dealers get sentenced

"Dealers get sentenced everyday. "

Keep in mind that under the current guidelines, even users are at risk. 5 grams isn't that much. Not everybody going to prison is a dealer.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <object> <param> <embed> <b>

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School