Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank is proposing a bill that would remove federal penalties for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.
Why do we need a federal bill?
Because the rest of the country is far behind Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon in decriminalizing the herb, with Michigan on the verge of approving a similar bill.
We need a federal bill because we need to put an end to this fruitless, expensive prohibition once and for all.
We need a federal bill because of the growing number of people across the nation who are clamoring for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational uses.
We need a federal bill because the prohibition of marijuana is rooted in racism, fear and greed, not science.
The Cliff Notes version of a piece written for the Virginia Law Review on how marijuana became illegal begins in about 1910 with a cast of characters that runs the gamut from migrant farm workers to polygamist pot smokers; from Pancho Villa to William Randolph Hearst; from the nation's first drug czar Harry Anslinger - who led a vicious, unfounded assault on marijuana - to the DuPont chemical company. (For the full story on why and how marijuana became illegal, go to http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/LIBRARY/studies/vlr/vlrtoc.htm;http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm andhttp://blogs.salon.com/0002762/stories/2003/12/22/whyIsMarijuanaIllegal.html)
Franks proposal would eliminate all federal penalties prohibiting the personal use and possession of up to 3 1/2 ounces of marijuana. Adults who consume marijuana would no longer face arrest, prison or even the threat of a civil fine. In addition, the bill would eliminate all penalties prohibiting the not-for-profit transfers of up to one ounce of cannabis between adults
This bill is based on the 1972 National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse study commissioned by then-President Richard Nixon, which reported that "the use of drugs for pleasure or other non-medical purposes is not inherently irresponsible; alcohol is widely used as an acceptable part of social activities," and added, "the actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior."
Pot was once described as a gateway drug that would lead our children on a path to dangerous drugs. Today's kids, however, are finding it easier to raid the family medicine cabinet to get high.
We are also finding that the medicinal use of marijuana can be beneficial to those with serious medical conditions, from life-threatening diseases to chronic pain.
Marinol, some experts say, is a good compromise because it's marijuana in pill form and, believe it or not, it's something your doctor can prescribe for you without the DEA crawling all over him.
But, it is cost prohibitive and researchers and patients are finding that because the cannabinoids used to manufacture marinol are so concentrated, they feel like they are either getting too much or not enough of the drug. Those who go for the herb claim they can better regulate their dose by toking on a joint or hitting on a vaporizer because the effects are more immediate and effective It's time for our leaders to remove the cultural and nonsensical reasons for the prohibition on marijuana and pass Frank's bill.