Acting Director LaBelle calls for swift passage of the bipartisan EQUAL Act

Washington, D.C. — Today, Regina LaBelle, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, “Examining Federal Sentencing for Crack and Powder Cocaine.” Acting Director LaBelle spoke about the importance of eliminating the federal sentencing disparity that remains between sentences for crack versus powder cocaine, which has led to disproportionate consequences for communities of color. Acting Director LaBelle voiced support for the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act (EQUAL Act) and described how the legislation is in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to promote evidence-based drug policy and advance racial equity.

During her opening testimony, Acting Director LaBelle said:

“The Biden-Harris Administration strongly supports eliminating the current disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. The current disparity is not based on evidence yet has caused significant harm for decades, particularly to individuals, families, and communities of color. The continuation of this sentencing disparity is a significant injustice in our legal system, and it is past time for it to end. Therefore, the Administration urges the swift passage of the ‘Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act,’ or the ‘EQUAL Act.’”

To view Acting Director LaBelle’s full written statement, click here.

To view the recorded Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, click here.

To view the Biden-Harris Administration’s first-year drug priorities, click here.

To read more about the President Biden’s budget request, click here.

Since taking office, President Biden has identified addiction and the overdose epidemic as a public health priority in the United States. In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes:

  • expanding access to evidence-based treatment;
  • advancing racial equity in our approach to drug policy;
  • enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts;
  • supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use;
  • reducing the supply of illicit substances;
  • advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce; and
  • expanding access to recovery support services.

Advancing racial equity in our Nation’s drug policy includes identifying unmet needs in diverse communities, developing priorities for criminal justice reform, and identifying culturally competent, evidence-based practices for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the continuum of care including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan was a down payment on these priorities, investing nearly $4 billion in behavioral health and substance use disorder supports. The President’s FY22 budget request calls for $10.7 billion to support research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder. The budget also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances.


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