Steve G.

Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass) wants marijuana possession legalized

In Activism, Big Brother, Congress, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democrats, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug War, Law, Media, Medical Marijuana, Nanny State, People in the news, Politics, US Government on July 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm

From CNN:

(CNN) — The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

“The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government’s business,” Frank said on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think it is the government’s business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.”

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use — and not the abuse — of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession are rarely incarcerated. The agency and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have long opposed marijuana legalization, for medical purposes or otherwise.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the drug control office.

“Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science — it is not medicine and it is not safe,” the DEA states on its Web site. “Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers.”

Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, likened Frank’s proposal — co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas — to current laws dealing with alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is permitted, and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse alcohol or drive under its influence, he said.

“We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers,” he said.

St. Pierre said there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the United States, including himself, and hundreds of thousands are arrested each year for medical or personal use. Is it time to legalize pot?

There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965, he said, and 11 million since 1990, and “every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested.”

Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for “all violent crimes combined,” meaning police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

“Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform,” he said.

If HR 5843 were passed, the House would support marijuana smokers possessing up to 100 grams — about 3½ ounces — of cannabis without being arrested. It would also give its blessing to the “nonprofit transfer” of up to an ounce of marijuana.

The resolution would not address laws forbidding growing, importing or exporting marijuana, or selling it for profit. The resolution also would not speak to state laws regarding marijuana use.

Read the entire article on CNN.

  1. This sounds good, but IMHO it is not a really good solution… While it does provide protection for the end users, it does NOTHING for the “distribution network” – yet it is in many ways the distribution network that is the source of many of the problems associated with the war on some drugs…

    The growers / importers / dealers are still at risk, and they are the ones having turf wars, and setting high prices to cover their risks of capture, etc…

    This “solution” is analogous to an attempt to solve the “War on Booze” by legalizing possession of six-packs by end consumers, but keeping Anheiser-Bush and the local package store illegal…

    I see the same problem with the Decrim referendum question that will be on the Mass. ballot this November….

    The risk I see is that a measure like this will go through, and when we still have problems with dealers having “wars” and all the other “Drug culture” negatives, because there is no legal supply chain – we will then see a push to toughen back up and get even nastier because “We tried legalizing and it didn’t work”

    I very much want to see an end to the War on some Drugs, but I fear any “solution” that doesn’t include some kind of LEGAL supply chain / distribution network. From a purely libertarian standpoint, I’d love simple full legalization, but as a practical matter I could accept an “alcohol model” of restricted sales, even if the distribution sites were gov’t run, so long as there was a LEGAL method for the end user to get the stuff.


  2. A minor victory if passed, and one in which Barr would undoubtedly hail as too sweepingly lenient, as it isn’t for medicinal marijuana only.

    If it isn’t Starbucks caffeine and/or wine (Barr’s drugs of choice), it shouldn’t be allowed . . . LOL!

  3. Or possibly Barr would just remain silent on it.

  4. […] Rep Barney Frank (D-Mass) wants marijuan […]

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