Drug War Madness: Grassley's Gag Rule

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Sen. Jim Webb (D-Virginia) has bravely proposed legislation to create a Blue Ribbon commission to conduct an 18-month, "top-to-bottom" review of America's criminal justice system with the goal of bringing U.S. incarceration rates in line with the rest of the civilized world.

The commission is to make sweeping recommendations for reform, and is tasked in particular with developing proposals to "restructure our approach to drug policy."

Enter unreconstructed drug warrior Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has released the text of an amendment that would ensure the commission not reach any conclusions that threaten 40 years of failure. The commission would be prohibited, thanks to Grassley, from examining any "policies that favor decriminalization of violations of the Controlled Substances Act or the legalization of any controlled substances."

Below, the text of Grassley's gag rule:

AMENDMENT intended to be proposed by Mr. GRASSLEY

....

SEC. ll. RESTRICTIONS ON AUTHORITY.

The Commission shall have no authority to make findings related to current Federal, State, and local criminal justice policies and practices or reform recommendations that involve, support, or otherwise discuss the decriminalization of any offense under the Controlled Substances Act or the legalization of any controlled substance listed under the Controlled Substances Act.

Jack Cole, a retired undercover narcotics officer who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) tells Rolling Stone that "Senator Grassley's censorship amendment would block what Senator Webb is trying to achieve with this bill. All along, Senator Webb has said that in the effort to fix our broken criminal justice system 'nothing should be off the table.' That should include the obvious solution of ending the 'drug war' as a way to solve the unintended problems caused by that failed policy," says Cole.

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