Sunday, March 30, 2008

Frank to Propose Decriminalization Bill

guest post by Skip from El Paso.

Last week on Real Time with Bill Maher Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank announced that he would introduce a bill to decriminalize pot. The name of the bill is priceless. It's called the "Make Room For The Serious Criminals Bill".

“It's time for the politicians to catch up with the public on this [issue],” Frank said. "The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly."

Frank's pending bill seeks to eliminate all federal penalties prohibiting the personal use and possession of up to 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) of marijuana. Under this measure, adults who consume cannabis would no longer face arrest, prison, or even the threat of a civil fine. The bill also eliminates all penalties prohibiting the not-for-profit transfers of up to one ounce of pot.

NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup, who worked closely with Frank's staff to draft this legislation, said, "If passed by Congress, this legislation would legalize the possession, use, and non-profit transfer of marijuana by adults for the first time since 1937." The bill incorporates the basic recommendation of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (also known as the Shafer Commission).

Oh please, please, please, let it work!

When I watched this my first thought was to laugh it off because there's no way this will ever work. Was he high when he said this? I thought. I was high when I watched it and I even knew he had to be high to think this will work.

But after a little more thought I realized that he wasn't just talking out of his bong. This is a brilliant long term strategy. Getting this through the House will be tough--and it won't even get a vote in the senate--but it would be the first significant progress on drug law reform in ages.

Even if it doesn't get a vote, I love the sentiment. Thank you Barney Frank. If you ever come to El Paso, I'll pass you one.

Edit: I would like to add a few things. Like alcohol, marijuana should not be used by children. Also, like alcohol, it shouldn't be used by adults, unless they need it for medical purposes and a doctor prescribes it. But, like alcohol, it's a decision adults should be allowed to make without risking incarceration. Driving while high is stupid and should remain just as illegal as drunk driving. I left these caveats out of the post because I thought they were well established stipulations all parties presume when debating decriminalization.

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