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Forums > Social Discussion > CNN: Legislators Aim to Snuff Out Penalties for Pot Use

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/30/frank.marijuana/index.html

 Written by

(CNN-30 July 2008) -- 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 during a Capitol Hill news conference. "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 passes.VideoWatch Frank lay out the proposal

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 ONDCP.

"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 (NORML), 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. iReport.com: 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 that police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

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

Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, and Barbara Lee, D-California, said that in addition to targeting nonviolent offenders, U.S. marijuana laws also unfairly target African-Americans.

Clay said he did not condone drug use, but he opposes using tax dollars to pursue what he feels is an arcane holdover from "a phony war on drugs that is filling up our prisons, especially with people of color."

Too many drug enforcement resources are being dedicated to incarcerating nonviolent drugs users, and not enough is being done to stop the trafficking of narcotics into the United States, he said.

Being arrested is not the American marijuana smoker's only concern, said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance Network. Those found guilty of marijuana use can lose their jobs, financial aid for college, their food stamp and welfare benefits, or their low-cost housing.

The U.S. stance on marijuana, Piper said, "is one of the most destructive criminal justice policies in America today."

Calling the U.S. policy "inhumane" and "immoral," Lee said she has many constituents who are harassed or arrested for using or cultivating marijuana for medical purposes. California allowsmedical marijuana use, but the federal government does not, she explained.

House Resolution 5843, titled the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, would allow "a very small number of individuals" suffering from chronic pain or illness to smoke marijuana with impunity.

According to NORML, marijuana can be used to treat a range of illnesses, including glaucoma, asthma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and seizures.

Frank, who is chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said about a dozen states already have approved some degree of medical marijuana use, and the federal government should stop devoting resources to arresting people who are complying with their states' laws.

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

Asked if 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 by the House, marijuana smokers could possess up to 100 grams -- about 3 ounces -- of cannabis without being arrested. It would also permit the "nonprofit transfer" of up to an ounce of marijuana.

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



-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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Fire_Moose
SILVER Member since May 2007

Fire_Moose

Elusive and Bearded
Location: Scottsdale, AZ

Total posts: 3597
Posted:So would state's laws that criminalize pot be affected by this? Or because it's federal, can states not do anything?


Stupid Arizona.....


O.B.E.S.E.

Owned by Mynci!

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted: Written by :Poje


So would state's laws that criminalize pot be affected by this?




No. States can outlaw anything they want, including alcohol, as long as the laws are not unconstitutional. What this means is that in a situation where, say, California has made it legal to possess marijuana for medical purposes, the Feds will not interfere.

If Arizona wants to continue to exercise prohibition, then they may.


-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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fanged_angel
BRONZE Member since Jul 2007

fanged_angel

poiromaniac
Location: liverpool, uk

Total posts: 162
Posted:damn i hope that gordon brown is as much of a suck up to america as tony blair was biggrin

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Doc Lightning
GOLD Member since May 2001

Doc Lightning

HOP Mad Doctor
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Total posts: 13920
Posted:Don't celebrate yet. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this resolution will fail. The United States is not yet ready to end the Drug War. There is entirely too much money in various companies who produce drug interdiction technology and provide associated services to expect this to go through without a fight.

-Mike )'(
Certified Mad Doctor and HoP High Priest of Nutella

"A buckuht 'n a hooze!" -Valura

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willworkforfoodjnr
SILVER Member since Aug 2007

willworkforfoodjnr

Hunting robot foxes
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Total posts: 1046
Posted:There is no way that legalisation will EVER happen. How many times have the same arguments been though our legal systems (US/UK)? Everyone in government knows that there is no way they can stop the trade or use, but they continue to sink millions of dollars/pounds each year into arresting users. They know that there is no compelling evidence that its use is any more harmful that alcohol, and plenty that it is less so. They also know that legalisation would create a massive net gain in the economy while saving countless hours of police time.

One could almost think there is a different reason they want to lock me up apart from saving me from myself?


Working hard to be a wandering hippie layabout. Ten years down, five to go!

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onewheeldave
GOLD Member since Aug 2002

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: sheffield

Total posts: 3252
Posted: Written by :willworkforfoodjnr


Everyone in government knows that there is no way they can stop the trade or use, but they continue ......

........They know that there is no compelling evidence that its use is any more harmful that alcohol, and plenty that it is less so.

...............They also know that legalisation would create a massive net gain in the economy while saving countless hours of police time.

One could almost think there is a different reason they want to lock me up apart from saving me from myself?





Why be so attached to the idea that everyone in govt knows these things?

People, on all issues, have varying opinions- often, people, despite facts, reason and science to the contrary, hold views that do not make sense.

They may be wrong, but they are sincere in their views.

Fact is, that irrational as it seems to you, many people (including goverment officials) believe that its use is more harmful than alcohol and, sincerely, do not believe that legislation will benefit the economy or save police time.

They may be wrong, but, often, they're sincere in their beliefs.

I just feel that, in those cases, for change to occur, it's important that we recognise it as sincerity, rather than just fobbing them all of as being cynical/corrupt.


"You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it."

--MAJOR KORGO KORGAR,
"Last of The Lancers"
AFC 32


Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!

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willworkforfoodjnr
SILVER Member since Aug 2007

willworkforfoodjnr

Hunting robot foxes
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Total posts: 1046
Posted:Sorry, wrong wording, I meant to say everyone in government who has investigated the issue. It is glaringly obvious from even an hour or twos research that current legislation does plenty of harm and very little of benefit.

Should we be entrusting our laws to people who either do not do research before forming views, or fail to form their views based on the research they have done? Can our lawmakers be excused willing ignorance?

Personally I believe very few laws in the world today cause quite as much harm and misery as the US stance on pot, and it angers me that governments the world over are ignoring their populace on the issue.

For example, and I don't have the figures right now, I'll check for them later, but we have a petitions website in the UK set up by the government as a method of community engagement. There was a petition on there for legalisation which was signed by thousands of people. There was also a petition for reclassification to a class B substance with all the associated legal ramifications for users. It was signed by well under 500. The government then reclassified to a class B substance.

Its less a case of being well meaning but ignorant, and more a case of sticking their fingers in their ears and singing "la la la" ignorant.


Working hard to be a wandering hippie layabout. Ten years down, five to go!

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Lurch
BRONZE Member since Nov 2003

Lurch

old hand
Location: Oregon

Total posts: 929
Posted:Well it doesn't really matter *that* much. The states that want to legalize it already have special considerations (medical) even though it's illegally federally. Fed's don't generally have a habit of making petty drug busts, even though they technically *could*.

#homeofpoi -- irc.newnet.net Come talk to us we're bored frown

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Mucky
SILVER Member since Apr 2008

Mucky

Rum-Swilling Combustioneer
Location: Macungie, PA, USA

Total posts: 227
Posted:There are several good books on the subject, but one of the best (in my opinion) is Cannabis, by Martin Booth. It's a more or less unbiased approach to the history of cannabis use and legislation, though from his writing he is obviously at least anti-anti-marijuana, if not outright pro-marijuana. Still, he covers some fairly huge coverups by national agencies of independent scientific and medical reports that really are eye-opening. Individual people involved in legislation may have varying beliefs, but the prevailing attitude is that if it's pot, it's evil. Dave is right when he says some people consider that every bit as much a given as "if it's fire, it's hot." The problem isn't that people are raised to believe that (well, it's a problem, but not *the* problem); the problem is that the agencies responsible for suppressing drug use also suppress information related to it and prevent people from making informed decisions.

Bouncing Baby Pipe!

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Sethis
BRONZE Member since Mar 2017

Sethis

Pooh-Bah
Location: York University

Total posts: 1762
Posted: Written by : Willworkforfood


They know that there is no compelling evidence that its use is any more harmful that alcohol, and plenty that it is less so.




Isn't that an argument for outlawing alcohol, instead of legalising cannabis?


After much consideration, I find that the view is worth the asphyxiation.
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