Congressmen Ron Paul, Barney Frank and others are planning on introducing a bill today aimed at chopping off one of the major arms of the war on drugs. They want to end the federal battle against marijuana.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Reps. Paul (R-Texas) and Frank (D-Mass.) will propose a bill today related to “ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states legalize, regulate, tax, and control marijuana without federal interference".
The statement comes from the Marijuana Policy Project via Reason.
Although Paul and Frank are members of opposing political parties, they have frequently voiced their concerns about the war on drugs. And now their words are going to take the form a bill that challenges the establishment.
The legislation would finally give individual states the power to decide how they want to deal with pot. Even though there are states that passed medical marijuana laws, a clear sign of their support for decriminalization, the federal government often arrests owners and employees of medical marijuana facilities. In most of these cases the arrested parties thought they were operating legally under city, county and/or state laws.
It’s debatable whether the reasons for the federal government’s numerous medical marijuana raids are legitimate or not. It all depends on people’s interpretation of The US Constitution.
"The legislation would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal," according to the MPP statement.
The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). It is the first bill of its kind to be offered in Congress that would end the 73-year-old federal marijuana ban that started with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
Frank insists that this "is not a legalization bill," but he does think that it will be a good test for those in government who say they want a smaller, limited, federal government. Advocates of smaller government want more power for the states to decide the laws that govern their lives, the same position that Paul has supported for almost 30 years.
If the bill were to somehow make it through both houses of Congress it would be interesting to see if President Obama would sign it. Obama’s stance on marijuana has been flippy-floppy at best.
"We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws," Obama said in Feb. 2008. "But I'm not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we're operating in the drug war. Currently, we're not doing a good job."
Obama’s hazy opinion of the federal marijuana war seems to support of the status quo, seeing as how military style raids over marijuana have continued even after Attorney General Eric Holder said his office was going to leave law abiding medical marijuana users alone.
There is a good chance that the bill won’t pass and that it will meet some fierce political opposition. But many advocates feel that right now is a good time to introduce such a bill because the calls to end the drug war have never been stronger. Last week President Jimmy Carter came out with an op-ed in the New York Times urging an end to the failed war on drugs.
It’s possible that the federal government will try and kill the bill, but the anti-prohibition movement has never been stronger. The fact that this bill is being introduced shows that the government’s war on drugs is as unpopular as it has ever been. The only question is: Do people really want change, or do they want more lip service?