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H.R. 1693 (117th): EQUAL Act of 2021

The text of the bill below is as of Sep 29, 2021 (Referred to Senate Committee). The bill was not enacted into law.

Summary of this bill

The ratio was 100:1 starting in 1986, then 18:1 starting in 2010. Should it be 1:1 now?


Cocaine is federally classified as a Schedule II drug, the category with the second-highest potential for dependence and abuse, alongside the likes of Vicodin, Adderall, and meth.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 created a 100:1 ratio for sentencing people who were caught with crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, black people are more likely to use crack cocaine, so the law had a disproportionate effect on nonwhites.

The law was partially crafted and advocated by then-Sen. Joe Biden, though he has subsequently …



1st Session

H. R. 1693


September 29, 2021

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


To eliminate the disparity in sentencing for cocaine offenses, and for other purposes.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law Act of 2021 or the EQUAL Act of 2021.


Elimination of increased penalties for cocaine offenses where the cocaine involved is cocaine base


Controlled substances act

The following provisions of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) are repealed:


Clause (iii) of section 401(b)(1)(A) (21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A)).


Clause (iii) of section 401(b)(1)(B) (21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(B)).


Controlled substances import and export act

The following provisions of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 951 et seq.) are repealed:


Subparagraph (C) of section 1010(b)(1) (21 U.S.C. 960(b)(1)).


Subparagraph (C) of section 1010(b)(2) (21 U.S.C. 960(b)(2)).


Applicability to pending and past cases


Pending cases

This section, and the amendments made by this section, shall apply to any sentence imposed after the date of enactment of this Act, regardless of when the offense was committed.


Past cases


In general

In the case of a defendant who, on or before the date of enactment of this Act, was sentenced for a Federal offense described in subparagraph (B), the sentencing court may, on motion of the defendant, the Bureau of Prisons, the attorney for the Government, or on its own motion, impose a reduced sentence after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) of title 18, United States Code.


Federal offense described

A Federal offense described in this subparagraph is an offense that involves cocaine base that is an offense under one of the following:


Section 401 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841).


Section 1010 of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 960).


Section 404(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 844(a)).


Any other Federal criminal offense, the conduct or penalties for which were established by reference to a provision described in clause (i), (ii), or (iii).


Defendant not required to be present

Notwithstanding Rule 43 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant is not required to be present at any hearing on whether to impose a reduced sentence pursuant to this paragraph.


No reduction for previously reduced sentences

A court may not consider a motion made under this paragraph to reduce a sentence if the sentence was previously imposed or previously reduced in accordance with this Act.


No requirement to reduce sentence

Nothing in this paragraph may be construed to require a court to reduce a sentence pursuant to this paragraph.


Determination of budgetary effects

The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

Passed the House of Representatives September 28, 2021.

Cheryl L. Johnson,