WASHINGTON–Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the following statement after swearing in the members of the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission, an independent government commission created through bipartisan legislation that he authored:

“It was an honor to swear in the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission yesterday – a distinguished group of experts with an incredibly important job to do,” said Chairman Engel. “It is long past time to take a fresh look at U.S. drug policy and make sure we have the best strategy moving forward. We need to have an honest assessment of what has worked and what hasn’t as we consider how to spend our counter narcotics dollars in the future. With a record 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017, we can’t waste any time in getting drug policy right.”
The Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission was established through bipartisan legislation authored by Chairman Engel and included in the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-323). Its mandate is to evaluate U.S. drug policies and programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, assess which efforts are succeeding and which are not and make recommendations to the President and Congress on future counter narcotics policies. 

Members of the Commission include Chairwoman Shannon O’Neil from the Council on Foreign Relations along with former Representatives Matt Salmon, Sam Farr, Mary Bono and Pete Gallego, former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Cliff Sobel, former U.S. Southern Command Commander General Douglas Fraser and former Obama Administration senior officials Dan Restrepo and Juan Gonzalez.