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U.S. House Takes Up Marijuana Decrim

Legislators aim to snuff out penalties for pot use

It’s a banner day for drug policy reform. The top story on CNN for a while this morning was a resolution by Barney Frank to remove federal penalties for possession of less than 100 grams of pot. This seems aimed squarely at preventing federal raids and harassment of medical marijuana dispensaries in states which have voter-approved medical marijuana.

(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.

[…]

In a shot at Republicans, Frank said it was strange that those who support limited government want to criminalize marijuana.

Asked whether the resolution’s passage would change his personal behavior, Frank quipped, "I do obey every law I vote for" but quickly said he did not use marijuana, nor does he encourage it.

"I smoke cigars. I don’t think other people should do that. If young people ask me, I would advise them not to do it," 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.

Hard to say whether such a proposal stands a snowball’s chance of passage. But it’s one more sign of the times that even many legislators are fed up with our ridiculous trumped-up ‘war on drugs.’ Is this the beginning of the end of that failed policy?


Comments (13 comments)

John Morales / July 30th, 2008, 5:02 pm / #1

1. 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.

2. The resolution would not address laws forbidding growing, importing or exporting marijuana, or selling it for profit.

Um. How are 1 and 2 in any way compatible?

Also, since by 2, anyone to whom 1 would apply is an accesory after the fact, so they’re still lawbreakers.
Of course, IANAL.

ClintJCL / July 30th, 2008, 5:49 pm / #2

Mere possession does not make you “an accessory after the fact”, or you would see 0 people in jail for simple possession, and everyone in there for “being an accessory to growing”. That’s just not the way the law works.

Yea, you may be breaking it when you grow it. But when you harvest it? You’d no longer be breaking federal law.

It’s no more incompatible than the fact that you can buy a psychedelic mushroom cultivation kit, or automatic machine gun kit, even though mushrooms and machine guns are typically illegal. Laws don’t work via implications.

Say this passes. You catch me with 99 grams. What law am I breaking? Accessory to someone else growing it? That’s just not how it works.

Jan Sevastakis / July 30th, 2008, 6:48 pm / #3

What does the color of ones skin have to do with the legalization of marijuana?P.S–by the way it ‘s a natural cure for manic-depression,especially when consumed with a good ol’ cup of “java”.

John Morales / July 30th, 2008, 7:33 pm / #4

ClintJCL, I guess you have a point.

If you just happen to find some cannabis plants, and you happen to harvest them, and you happen to give it to a friend or have it on you, it would no longer be criminal.

PS If I seem cynical, I happen to live in South Australia, where decriminalisation occurred in 1987.
Look how it went. Personally, I can’t tell the difference between the prior situation and that after decriminalisation.

PPS IMO marijuana should be treated like alcohol: DUI laws, Workplace laws, and heavy regulation and taxation. Prohibition of it is just like prohibition of alcohol – widely scoffed at anyway and an invitation to corruption.

Bender / August 19th, 2008, 9:36 pm / #5

Anytime you declare ‘war’ on something as ambiguous as marijuana possession (or any drugs for that matter) you are setting yourself up for a never-ending battle. When do you declare victory? It’s impossible. Now the problem becomes how to call off the ‘war’ when it is determined that it is futile and costly, when it has filled up our prisons with otherwise law-abiding citizens. The axiom that if you’re not a criminal when you go to prison, you’ll certainly be one when you come out, immediately springs to mind. So now we have filled up our prisons and taken productive people and turned them into criminals. All for a plant that grows wild in nearly every state. Unlike alcohol, there has never been an overdose of marijuana and violence is nearly unheard of with the use of marijuana. About the only thing I’ve ever seen a user do that may be harmful, is to eat a pound of oreo cookies and fall asleep. It’s time to call off this ridiculous ‘war’ and spend our resources more wisely. By the way, did you know that the exalted DARE program has been proven to have no reduction of drug use among it’s students?

Happy & Free:-) / August 20th, 2008, 12:02 am / #6

Power to u Bender for ur statement that has been repeated for so-o-o-o-o long! Too long! So I would like toadd to this very agreed statement & tell America to snap out of it, little sleep & to much wk is more a danger than this plant! That’s why everyone’s smokn the stuff :-) !

Happy & Free:-) / August 20th, 2008, 12:03 am / #7

Power to u Bender for ur statement that has been repeated for so-o-o-o-o long! Too long! So I would like to add to this very agreed statement & tell America to snap out of it, little sleep & to much wk is more a danger than this plant ! That’s why everyone’s smokn the stuff :-) !

i fought the law and the law won / December 8th, 2008, 6:41 pm / #8

Yep, bender, kudos to you.

It really makes you sit and wonder “what” exactly the legislators are *reaallly* thinking imposing criminalization on such a wonderful plant.

I believe that its not so much about the money any more. Its about scared politicians speaking out against the other old white dudes… (who by the way probably go blow lines off a stripper booty as soon as their meeting ends)
I bet soo many of those folks go home and take a toke.

jan sevastakis / December 9th, 2008, 10:00 am / #9

I can’t think of a single positive reason for consuming alcohol besides getting drunk.Marijuana has so many medicinal uses it’s not funny.——-and like I said before it helps mania,in those that suffer from manic-depression.It also helps reduce seizures in persons who suffer from epilepsy.Alcohol doesn’t hold a candle to pot,our society is living in the dark ages!–We need to get a grip,and get that ol”booger Red on the case!

Mike / January 1st, 2009, 11:51 pm / #10

great resource thanks

AmenASHandF / January 7th, 2009, 3:27 am / #11

i fought the law & jan sevastakis,
just read ur added comments from a month ago. Right on!
Sean,
this new format isn't sending me anything anymore,where I've commented that is. I am getting ur new articles though. Just saw a new johnsafranvsgod episode, love his stuff!! So funny! And we got a new comp for Xmas, yeay! It's a laptop windows vista & just had the time to play w/ it. It's the 1st time I've scene the format u mentioned. My 98 wasn't picking it up. I miss the old one = (

BlackSun / January 7th, 2009, 4:10 am / #12

Hey Amen,

Bear with me on the new format, still working out the bugs. Sign up for an IntenseDebate account and you will get the notifications as before. Since the commenting feature is now outsourced, I'm relying on them to put back some of the better html tools we had in WordPress. But getting a user account with IDC will solve the notification problem. Make sure to check the "receive email updates" box below.

AmenASHandF / January 8th, 2009, 5:31 am / #13

Hey Sean,
I got your response so it looks like I'm all set ! I also got a confirmation email asking me to respond, I did. Sorry, should have complemented to. It is great, very fun. It's just one of things with change, always miss the old. Happy New Year!

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