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House Judiciary Chair Questions DEA Tactics

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access]   Dear ASA Supporter,

ASA’s ongoing campaign to hold the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) accountable for its continued efforts to undermine state medical marijuana laws is working. We are pleased to announce that US House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has sent a letter to DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart challenging the DEA's actions.

ASA staff together with grassroots activists helped make it possible for Chairman Conyers to issue this letter. Please donate now to support our important work in Washington, D.C.!

As a follow-up to a public statement he made in December, Chairman Conyers’ letter questions DEA directly about its heightened raid activity across California and its intimidation of property owners owners with threats of prosecution and asset forfeiture because they rent to medical cannabis dispensaries. Chairman Conyers is the highest ranking elected official to question the DEA’s tactics since medical cannabis raids in California escalated dramatically in 2007. This letter is an important and necessary step towards Congressional hearings by the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the actions of the DEA.

Over the past several months, ASA and advocates all over the country have lobbied Chairman Conyers to convene hearings. Dozens of legal, tax-paying dispensaries have been shut down or evicted by their landlords, and many more face the same fate if Congress does not intervene. ASA Director of Government Affairs Caren Woodson has been lobbying the offices of Chairman Conyers and Subcommittee Chairman Scott about this issue for months, and her persistence is paying off!

Caren’s work with the House Judiciary Committee was bolstered by a statewide effort to get California’s elected officials to call for an end to the harmful tactics of the DEA. ASA and its allies were successful in garnering strong letters of support from several elected officials, urging Chairman Conyers to hold hearings. Among those who spoke up were Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine, and the mayors of Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and West Hollywood.

I urge you to make a special commitment to support the kind of persistent, strategic, and effective organizing that ASA demonstrated in moving Chairman Conyers forward on this issue by making a monthly pledge of support or a one time contribution to ASA.

Please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Donate and make a contribution today!


Steph Sherer
Executive Director
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. Please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/ConyersLetter to read the letter from Chairman Conyers.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

In Mexico, Opposition to Plan Merida Emerges

This week, high-level US and Mexican officials spoke out in favor of Plan Mérida, the three-year, $1.4 billion anti-drug package designed to assist the Mexican government in its ongoing battle with violent drug trafficking organizations. But at the same time officials like Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were visiting Latin America to seek support for the plan, at a forum on drug policy in Culiacán, Sinaloa, home of one of the most feared of the drug trafficking groups, the Sinaloa Cartel, there was little but criticism of the proposed aid package.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/riodocecover.gif
Ríodoce cover -- Sinaloa keeps bleeding. Why more (soldiers)?
Since he took office at the beginning of last year, Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed some 30,000 Mexican army troops in the fight against the so-called cartels, which provide much of the cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana coming into the United States. US officials have praised Mexican President Felipe Calderón for his aggressive efforts against the cartels and seek to reward his government -- and especially the Mexican military -- by providing high-tech equipment, training, and other goods to the Mexican armed forces.

But despite the massive military deployments in border cities from Tijuana in the west to Reynosa and Matamoros in the east, as well as in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, and Sinaloa -- all traditional drug-producing areas -- and the high praise from Washington, Calderon's drug war has not gone well. Roughly 2,000 people were killed in Mexico's drug war last year, and with this year's toll already approaching 1,000, 2008 looks to be even bloodier. Yet the flow of drugs north and guns and cash south continues unimpeded.

Bush administration and Mexican officials met over a period of months last year and early this year to craft a joint response that would see $500 million a year in assistance to Mexico, primarily in the form of helicopters and surveillance aircraft. Known as Plan Mérida, after the Mexican city in which it took final form, the assistance package is now before the US Congress.

Congressional failure to fund the package would be "a real slap at Mexico," Secretary of Defense Gates said in Mexico City Tuesday as he met with General Guillermo Galván, the Mexican defense minister, Government Secretary Juan Mouriño, and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa. "It clearly would make it more difficult for us to help Mexican armed forces and their civilian agencies deal with this difficult problem," he told reporters.

The same day, Attorney General Mukasey was in San José, Costa Rica, where in a speech to justice ministers from across the hemisphere, he, too, urged Congress to approve the aid package. Drugs, gangs, and violent crime on the border are "a joint problem -- and we must face it jointly," he said. "By working together, we can strengthen the rule of law and the administration of justice, and we can combat transnational criminal threats," Mukasey said.

That is what the Mexican government wants to hear. It negotiated the aid package, and although President Calderón's ruling National Action Party (PAN) does not hold a majority in the Mexican congress, it can count on the support of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) on the aid deal. Of the three major parties in the Mexican congress, only the left-leaning Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) is raising concerns about the package, but the PRD is not strong enough in the congress to block it.

But while official Mexico may want passage of the package, a number of Mexican intellectuals, academics, political figures, and former military officers attacked the plan to beef up the Mexican military for US drug war aims at a forum this week at the International Forum on Illicit Drugs hosted by the Culiacán weekly newsmagazine Ríodoce.

"The US wants to fight drugs, crime, and terrorism. Bush and Calderón have been talking about a new Plan Colombia, but the anti-drug policies pursued so far have been a failure," said Ríodoce managing editor Ismael Bojórquez, as he opened the conference. "The phenomenon of drug trafficking is very complex and reaches deeply into the fabric of our society. The system benefits from the drug trade; the profits from it enter into our economy and have benefited many businesses. Few sectors have been able to resist the easy money. In a country that has not been able to improve conditions for poor Mexicans, the drug trade is an attractive alternative," he explained.

"Our government has authorized the use of federal police and even soldiers to attack the drug trade, but this strategy is mistaken and the government has wasted million of dollars that could have gone to productive ends," Bojórquez added.

"Our foreign policy has been subordinated to that of the Americans, the policemen of the world," said Mexican political figure Jorge Ángel Pescador Osuna, the former Mexican consul general in Los Angeles. "Fortunately, this Plan Mérida initiative has yet to be approved by the US Congress, and hopefully, the voice of Mexico will be heard in this debate. We think there are real solutions that are within the grasp of the government and civil society," he said.

"They want to spend $500 million the first year, half of which will go to buy military equipment and advanced technologies," said Pescador Osuna. "My first response is how nice. But then I have to ask why we should use the military in areas that are outside its competence. What we need here is to strengthen our democracy, and we will not accomplish that by using the military for civilian law enforcement."

"These kinds of anti-drug policies that focus on policing are overwhelmingly simplistic," concurred Colombian economist Francisco Thoumi, director of the Center for Drug and Crime Studies at the University of Rosario in Bogota. "They do not attack the problem at the base," he argued. "The drug trade is a capitalist industry, and it accepts the losses of interdiction and eradication as a cost of doing business. This kind of enforcement looks good on TV and makes politicians and police happy, but the industry goes on, and this doesn't solve the problem."

"The idea with this is to give power to the armed forces," said Luis Astorga, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City and head of a UNESCO program devoted to understanding the ramifications of the international drug trade. "Calderon is doing nothing more or less than reconfiguring the anti-drug struggle in Mexico by putting it in the hands of the military. One question is how long this will last," he noted.

General Francisco Gallardo, a leading advocate of human rights within the Mexican armed forces, was also critical. "The context for Plan Mérida is this new world order where the US struggle for hegemony with China and the European Union," he argued. "The US has militarized its foreign policy, and it wants us to militarize our drug enforcement. But the function of the army is to defend the sovereignty of the state, not to fight crime. That is the job of the police," he said.

"Involving the military under the auspices of Plan Mérida does not respond to Mexican interests," Gallardo said. "It has a bad effect on the institutional and judicial order of the nation. The soldiers who kill innocents are absolved; they have impunity," he said, citing the cases of several mass killings by soldiers in Sinaloa, including an incident in Santiago de Caballero in the mountains above Culiacán in late March, in which four unarmed young men in a Hummer were killed by soldiers on an anti-drug mission. "The drug trade is a matter for police and the justice system, not the military," Gallardo concluded.

While the Bush and Calderón administrations are seeking to steamroll opposition to the proposed aid package, it is clear that Plan Mérida is drawing heated criticism in Mexico. What is less clear is whether that opposition can successfully block the initiative on the Mexican side. Right now, the best prospects for that appear to lie in the US Congress.

Sentencing: Federal Crack Sentence Reductions Begin to Take Hold

More than 3,000 federal inmates serving lengthy sentences on crack cocaine charges have won reductions in their sentences since changes in sentencing guidelines approved by the US Sentencing Commission in December took effect at the beginning of March. Some 1,600 inmates are eligible for immediate release, but it was not clear how many had already walked out of prison, the Commission said in a report dated April 21.

The change in sentencing is designed to address what the Commission described as racial disparities in federal sentencing because of more severe penalties for crack cocaine offenses than for powder cocaine offenses. Four out of five federal crack offenders are black, but most powder cocaine offenders are white. The racial breakdown of released prisoners would appear to back the Commission's contention that crack sentences had disproportionately affected blacks: African-American inmates accounted for 84% of those granted sentence reductions.

Attorney General Mukasey and other drug war hardliners had sought to block the early releases, arguing that they would result in a mass release of violent criminals who would wreak havoc on American cities. Mukasey's Justice Department asked Congress to limit the early releases to first-time nonviolent offenders, but Congress did not act on that request. Commission statistics showed that only 9% of prisoners granted sentence cuts were violent or repeat offenders, while 30% were minor or first-time offenders.

The new sentencing guidelines will allow some 20,000 federal crack offenders to seek reductions. So far, slightly more than 3,600 have requested reductions, with more than 80% winning sentence cuts.

No More Marijuana Arrests


Drug Policy Alliance Action Alert

Dear Friends,

The first federal marijuana decriminalization bill in 25 years was just introduced in Congress. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 5843, the “Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008,” which would decriminalize possession of marijuana for personal use. Please urge your representative to support this important legislation

A deluge of messages from constituents will help members of Congress feel more confident in declaring their support for the bill. We don't expect the bill to become law just yet, but it will help us find out which members of Congress support marijuana decriminalization and which do not.  The more representatives who co-sponsor it, the more support we can show for marijuana law reform.

Take action now.

Last year alone the police made almost 830,000 arrests for marijuana law offenses in the United States. 89 percent of those arrests were for posssession for personal use. Those arrested were seperated from their families, branded criminals, and in many cases fired from their jobs and denied school loans and other public assistance. The arrests cost taxpayers billions of dollars and consumed an estimated 4.5 million law enforcment hours (that’s the equivalent of taking 112,500 law enforcement officers off the streets).

H.R. 5843 would make it legal under federal law for adults to possess up to 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of marijuana for personal use. It would also allow not-for-profit transfers of up to one ounce of marijuana between consenting adults. Please urge your member of Congress to support this bill.

Our executive director, Ethan Nadelmann, made a powerful case for ending marijuana prohibition in a 2004 cover story in National Review (PDF).

Sincerely,

Bill Piper
Director of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance

More Information

--In 1972 a special commission formed by Congress and President Richard Nixon concluded that punitive marijuana laws do more harm than good. Among other things, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse urged states and the federal government to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Twelve states eventually did, but most states and the federal government ignored the report. You can read the National Commission’s 1972 report here.

--Since 1972 twelve states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, and Oregon. Decriminalization generally means people caught possessing marijuana for personal use are not subjected to imprisonment for at least their first offense, although they may be subject to a small fine.

--A 2001 Zogby poll found that 61 percent of Americans oppose arresting and jailing nonviolent marijuana smokers. A 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 72 percent of Americans think people arrested for marijuana possession should face fines and not jail time.

--A study that examined arrest statistics for smoking or possessing marijuana in public in New York City from 1980 through 2006 found that blacks were four times as likely as whites to receive jail time for possession of marijuana.  Hispanics were three times as likely. In 2002 about 2.4 percent of all marijuana users were arrested for marijuana possession. The arrest rate for blacks was 94 percent higher.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Press Release: Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act Introduced Yesterday in Congress

[Courtesy of Americans for Safe Access] For Immediate Release: April 18, 2008 Contact: ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson (510) 388-0546 Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act Introduced Yesterday in Congress HR 5842 would reschedule marijuana for medical use, end federal interference in state laws Washington, D.C. -- Congressional Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the "Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act," HR 5842, yesterday, a bill co-sponsored by Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Ron Paul (R-TX). The act would change federal policy on medical marijuana in a number of ways. Specifically, HR 5842 would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug, which cannot be prescribed, to a Schedule II drug, which would recognize the medical value of marijuana and create a regulatory framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana. The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state run medical marijuana program. Similar versions of HR 5842 have been introduced in prior Congressional terms, but have never made it out of committee. "It's time that the federal government take this issue seriously," said Caren Woodson, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy group working with Mr. Frank and other Members of Congress to change federal policy. "By disregarding marijuana's medical efficacy, and undermining efforts to implement state laws, the federal government is willfully placing hundreds of thousands of sick Americans in harms way." In addition to rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), HR 5842 would provide protection from the CSA and the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) for qualified patients and caregivers in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Specifically, the act prevents the CSA and FDCA from prohibiting or restricting: (1) a physician from prescribing or recommending marijuana for medical use, (2) an individual from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, manufacturing, or using marijuana in accordance with their state law, (3) an individual authorized under State law from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, or manufacturing marijuana on behalf of an authorized patient, or (4) an entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients from obtaining, possessing, or distributing marijuana to such authorized patients. In December, U.S. House Judiciary Chair John Conyers stated publicly his concern about the tactics being used by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and promised oversight hearings. Since then, several California mayors have written to Conyers expressing their support for hearings, including the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, West Hollywood, and Santa Cruz. Opposition to federal interference in state medical marijuana laws has also come from multiple city councils, members of the California Board of Equalization and the state legislature, as well as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Further information: Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, HR 5842: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/HR5842.pdf ASA Fact Sheet on the Escalation of Harmful DEA Tactics: http://americansforsafeaccessnow.org/downloads/dea_escalation.pdf December 2007 Statement by House Judiciary Chair John Conyers: http://judiciary.house.gov/newscenter.aspx?A=889 Letter from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to Conyers: http://www.americansforsafeaccessnow.org/downloads/Newsom_Letter_to_Cony... Letter from NM Governor Richardson to President GW Bush: http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/richardson_letter.pdf # # #
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Press Release: Congressman Frank Introduces Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

[Courtesy of the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy] For Immediate Release: April 17, 2008 Contact: Whitney A. Taylor, (617) 901-7765 Congressman Frank Introduces Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Bill CSMP Applauds Effort and Symmetry with Proposed Statewide Ballot Initiative Boston, April 17 — The Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) today applauded U.S. Rep. Barney Frank's (D-4th MA) introduction of federal marijuana decriminalization legislation that parallels CSMP's statewide effort to create sound marijuana policies. Last month Frank announced his intention to reform smalltime marijuana penalties – a position shared by the majority of Massachusetts voters – during an appearance on HBO’s "Real Time with Bill Maher." Following through with that commitment, today Frank introduced "The Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008" — which would change federal law to remove federal penalties for the personal possession of up to 100 grams and not-for-profit transfer of up to 28.3 grams of marijuana, and make public consumption of marijuana punishable by a $100 fine. "The Massachusetts Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy is proud to be moving forward on the state level to create a sound marijuana policy while Congressman Frank tackles this issue in the nation’s capital," said Whitney A. Taylor, CSMP campaign manager. "The people of Massachusetts are ready for a proven, practical marijuana policy, which is reflected in the efforts of both Congressman Frank and CSMP." While not as far reaching as Frank's proposal to change federal law, CSMP's initiative will greatly reduce the human and financial costs of current laws by creating a civil penalty system for possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana. According to Harvard economist Dr. Jeff Miron, Massachusetts’ taxpayers spend $29.5 million a year just to arrest and book offenders who possess about 28 grams or less of marijuana. This arrest can result in up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, but more costly is the creation of a criminal record — or CORI — for these offenders. A CORI can essentially mean a lifetime of punishment, making an individual ineligible for student loans, creating barriers to employment, and banning smalltime marijuana violators from many housing opportunities, Taylor said. Last year, over 7,500 Bay Staters received a CORI and endless barriers to a successful life for personal possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. "This commonsense approach to marijuana possession will create huge savings, both human and financial," Taylor said. "Thousands of individuals will be able to move on to lead productive lives, while over $29 million a year can stay in local community coffers — it is a win-win for Massachusetts." ###
Location: 
Boston, MA
United States

Press Release: Barney Frank Introduces Bold Reform of Federal Marijuana Laws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 17, 2008

Barney Frank Introduces Bold Reform of Federal Marijuana Laws MPP Praises Bill as "Major Step Toward Sanity"

CONTACT: Dan Bernath, MPP assistant director of communications, 202-462-5747 ext. 115

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials of the Marijuana Policy Project praised the "Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008," introduced today by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), as an important step toward bringing federal law into line with scientific fact, practical reality and public opinion.

    "Congressman Frank's bill represents a major step toward sanity in federal marijuana policy," said MPP director of government relations Aaron Houston. "The decades-long federal war on marijuana protects no one and in fact has ruined countless lives. Most Americans do not believe that simple possession of a small amount of marijuana should be a criminal matter, and it's time Congress listened to the voters."

    Frank's bill would remove federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana and the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana. It would not change marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, and would not change federal laws prohibiting the cultivation of marijuana, sale of marijuana for profit, or import or export of marijuana. It also would not affect any state or local marijuana laws or regulations.

    An October 2005 Gallup poll found that 55 percent of voters believe "possession of small amounts of marijuana ... should not be treated as a criminal offense," while only 43 percent believed marijuana possession should be a criminal matter. Eleven states treat possession of a small amount of marijuana as a relatively minor offense – often a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense – that generally does not involve arrest and jail. In Alaska, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in the home is legal, protected by the right to privacy guaranteed by the state constitution.

    "In fact, federal prosecution of individuals for possession of a small amount of marijuana is extremely rare," said Houston. "Congressman Frank's bill would bring federal law into line with this reality, as well as with the undisputable scientific fact that marijuana is far safer than legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol."

    With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.

####
Location: 
United States

Bill introduced in Congress to decriminalize marijuana!

[Courtesy of Marijuana Policy Project] 

Today, a bill to eliminate all federal penalties for marijuana possession was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Would you please take one minute to ask your U.S. representative to support this bill? MPP’s easy online action system makes it simple — just enter your name and contact info and we'll do the rest.

"The Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008," introduced by Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), would eliminate the threat of arrest and prison for the possession of up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana. It would not affect federal laws prohibiting selling marijuana for profit, importing and exporting marijuana, or cultivating marijuana.  It also would not affect any state or local laws and regulations.

Because almost all marijuana arrests are made by local and state police, the primary impact of this federal bill is twofold:  First, it would offer protection to people who are apprehended with marijuana in federal buildings or on federal land (such as national parks); and, second, the bill sends a message to state governments that the federal government is now open to the notion of states reducing their marijuana penalties, too.

This historic legislation comes 36 years after the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse made a similar recommendation to President Richard Nixon, suggesting that he decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

MPP has worked closely with Congressman Frank’s staff over the last year, helping to craft the legislation and build political support for the proposal on Capitol Hill.

Now that the bill has been introduced, members of Congress need to hear from their constituents who want to see it passed. It takes only a minute or two to use MPP’s online action system to send a quick note to your member of the House.

Thanks so much for your help.

Sincerely,
Kampia signature (e-mail sized)

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

P.S. As I've mentioned in previous alerts, a major philanthropist has committed to match the first $3.0 million that MPP can raise from the rest of the planet in 2008. This means that your donation today will be doubled.

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Marijuana: Barney Frank Introduces Federal Decriminalization Bill

Last month, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) announced he would file a bill to decriminalize marijuana possession at the federal level. Wednesday, Frank followed through, introducing the "The Personal Use of Marijuana By Responsible Adults Act of 2008," which would set a maximum $100 fine under federal law for possession or not-for-profit transfer of less than 100 grams of marijuana.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/barneyfrank.jpg
Barney Frank
Frank did not comment publicly this week on the proposed legislation, but in a statement last month on his marijuana legislation, Frank said it was a waste of federal time and resources to prosecute minor marijuana offenses.

"I think it is poor law enforcement to keep on the books legislation that establishes as a crime behavior the government does not seriously wish to prosecute," he said. "For highly-trained federal law enforcement agents to spend time prosecuting people for smoking marijuana is a diversion of scarce resources from their job of protecting public safety."

Marijuana laws should be left to the states, he suggested. "The norm in America is for the states to decide whether particular behaviors should be made criminal. To make the smoking of marijuana one of those extremely rare instances of federal crime -- to make a 'federal case' out of it -- is wholly disproportionate to the activity involved. We do not have federal criminal prohibitions against drinking alcoholic beverages, and there are generally no criminal penalties for the use of tobacco at the state and federal levels for adults. There is no rational argument for treating marijuana so differently from these other substances."

Even if the Frank bill were to pass, which seems unlikely any time in the near future, it would have limited impact on the 800,000-plus marijuana arrests each year since the vast majority of them are made by state and local law enforcement. But it would send a very strong signal to the states that the federal government no longer considered pot-smoking a serious problem worthy of the criminal justice system.

Barney Frank Introduces Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Via MPP (sorry no link):
"The Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008," introduced by Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), would eliminate the threat of arrest and prison for the possession of up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana. It would not affect federal laws prohibiting selling marijuana for profit, importing and exporting marijuana, or cultivating marijuana. It also would not affect any state or local laws and regulations.

Because almost all marijuana arrests are made by local and state police, the primary impact of this federal bill is twofold: First, it would offer protection to people who are apprehended with marijuana in federal buildings or on federal land (such as national parks); and, second, the bill sends a message to state governments that the federal government is now open to the notion of states reducing their marijuana penalties, too.

This historic legislation comes 36 years after the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse made a similar recommendation to President Richard Nixon, suggesting that he decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
Congress can send the right message by passing this bill and demonstrating its commitment to defending individual freedom, while focusing federal law-enforcement resources on real crimes. As Barney Frank argues:
"I do not believe that the federal government should treat adults who choose to smoke marijuana as criminals. Federal law enforcement is a serious business, and we should be concentrating our efforts in this regard on measures that truly protect the public."
Despite bi-partisan co-sponsorship (Ron Paul, of course), I'm kinda not expecting this thing to become law anytime soon, but it will be fun to see who our friends are. Any debate over the bill will just reveal the idiocy of those in Congress who want federal law enforcement agents busting hippies for half-eighths, instead of defending the homeland from terrorists, zombies, and dancing libertarians.

Let it be known that one can stand for sensible drug policy without being voted out of Congress.
Location: 
United States

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