On Dec 3, the United States senate will debate the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. The legislation will create a commission that will conduct an intensive review of the criminal justice system over 18 months. The main focus of the commission will be the nation’s sky-high incarceration rate, international and domestic gang violence, and restructure the county’s approach to drug policy. You can read the bill online (S.714).

US Senate

Democrat Senator Jim Webb of Virginia introduced the bill. Webb said the bill includes “very careful examination of all aspects of drug policy. … I think everything should be on the table.”

This is a huge step forward for the anti-prohibition movement. The last government study group to look at drug policy, the 1972 Shafer Commission, recommended that President Richard Nixon decriminalize marijuana. He didn’t. The US federal government has made some big steps already this year and Obama is a very different president than Nixon. If you live in the US check out NORML’s tips for contacting your members of Congress, they even have pre-written letters (NORML).

Webb called the current drug laws a “national disgrace,” and said the elephant in the room is sky-high incarceration rates for drug users due to the U.S.’s 40-year-old War on Drugs. Webb also remarked “Our system is cripplingly large and marred by wrongful incarcerations, poor rehabilitative treatment and mental health care and a price tag of $44 billion a year on prisons alone.”