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Marijuana: Barney Frank to Introduce Federal Decriminalization Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #529)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) used a Friday night appearance on the HBO program "Real Time," hosted by Bill Maher, to announce that he planned to file a federal bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana this week. Frank, who has long been a supporter of marijuana law reform, said that federal law unfairly targets medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal. He also argued that decisions about whether to make marijuana illegal should be left up to the states.

Barney Frank
Asked by Maher as to why he would push a pot decriminalization bill now, Frank said the American public has already decided that personal use of marijuana is not a problem. "I now think it's time for the politicians to catch up to the public," Frank said. "The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly. I'm going to call it the 'Make Room for Serious Criminals' bill."

Elaborating on his TV remarks in a Sunday interview with the Associated Press, the Massachusetts congressman said elected officials are lagging behind public opinion on the issue. "Do you really think people should be prosecuted for smoking marijuana? I don't think most people agree with that. It's one area where the public is ahead of the elected officials," Frank said. "It does not appear to me to be a law that society is serious about."

He seemed particularly irked by DEA raids and federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers in California. "I don't think smoking marijuana should be a federal case," he said. "There's no federal law against mugging."

A dozen states have already decriminalized marijuana possession, with the New Hampshire House voting to approve such a measure last week. But the Granite State bill is opposed by state Senate leaders and the governor.

Rep. Frank's bill had not appeared on the Congressional web site as of Thursday afternoon.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

I went to jail for wed. That was such crap. I'm not a violent person. I am part of big brothers big sisters

Thu, 03/27/2008 - 11:30pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Finally, our representatives in the government are getting their wits about them, and representing the people. I just hope Barney's bill is seen through its early stages. Marijuana is NOT as bad as most of not all other legal drugs in this country, especially the demon known as alcahol. As a matter of fact it's no where near as deadly and counterproductive to society as alcahol.

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 2:40am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lest we forget, it was the fascist regime of Richard (I) M (not a crook) Nixon who conceived the so-called War on Drugs in the first place and totally disregarded the recommendations of the Schafer Commission to, at the very least, decriminalize Cannabis. That fact alone should be reason enough to repeal draconian US drug laws.

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 1:02pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I applaud Mr Frank but he needs to consider a bill for legalization as opposed to decriminalization. If the Federal government allows alcohol and tobacco, which results in well over 500,000 deaths each year, to be legal, why not marijuana.

Illicit drug use causes an average of 17,000 deaths each year. Anti-Imflammatories, (asprin, etc) 7,600 deaths.

Allthough marijuana IS mentioned in M.E. reports, it is usually in a combination of alcohol and other drugs. Marijuana alone, ZERO deaths.

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 11:35am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Why not just decriminalize marijuana? It is about as toxic as tomatoes (not at all), just about as dangerous (some people are seriously allergic to tomatoes), and has health benefits that are not seriously in dispute.

Legalization implies regulation AND taxation we have enough of both of those things already. Does anyone seriously want to give MORE money to the US government so it can spend it on MORE insane wars and illegal occupations.

Let us just plant our gardens in peace without fear of governmental reprisals, or begging for permission, or permits, or fees, or taxes.

Decriminalize it and leave us the hell alone!

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 6:46pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Let's vote on it, and any Representative that doesn't agree with the people, should clean out his desk and go home.

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 11:41am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

now do we really think that it is reasonable to belive that the people that are profiting from the criminalization of pot are going to allow a forward thinking representitive to turn off their cash crop? what of the economic effects of allowing the public to make up there own minds when it comes to there personal health? where will the lobyest, police offficers, and prison guards be after we elimnate a percentage of their job stability?

lets be serious until we figure how to refill our ever expanding correctional facilities there will be ever harsher drug laws and anyone thet has the balls to challenge this will be shut down as devients. i will be very suprised if this story goes anywhere past the short stop on the alternetive internet sites

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 12:38pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

most of the people who do make money off weed being illegal are every day people like you and me who have been thrown into this category of "evil" or "Dark" society, which i know is bull cause its something that you cant die from unless you are allergic to it so in that case we should make peanuts and bee's illegal does that make sense cause those are both natural and people grow them and people die from those so where is the justice in that

Tue, 03/17/2009 - 5:49pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I applaud Mr. Frank for being one of the few legislators demonstrating that they can actually think. The idea that the people are ahead of the legislators is a " no duh" to most people but the legislators make money off leaving things the way they are. I sincerely hope that he can have an affect but then again I live in the fabled "Bible Belt" and those in charge down here are too close minded to see their penises when they pee so I'm slow to get any hopes up just because one decided to use his thinking muscle. I wish him luck with cautious hope!

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 12:41pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I applaud Mr. Frank for his efforts. The problem is that our legislators will never pass it. They recieve way to much money from special interest groups to ever decriminalize pot. If you really want to help decriminalize marijauna you need to get involved. Join NORML and start pestering your legislators, write letters to your local newspapers in regards to the damage done by the drug war.

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 4:05pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

i feel like barney frank has a direct line to God. Someone has finally listened to my prayers. Afters years of using marijuana for medical reasons, hopefully, maybe, someone with some sense wants to help.

firstly, marijuana, does not lead to harder, stonger drugs. this has always been false. Secondly, God gave us marijuana, not alcohol. marijuana is a herb, alcohol is man made and the effects of alcohol are much more deadly the marijuana.

the politicians who do not want mariuana legalized are either smoking it themselves or are making money from it.

i know when i went to high school the kids who had fathers that were policemen you had the best marijuana from.

the reason it banned in th 1930's, was because of some stamp issue. i say forget the stamp and legalize the herb!

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 4:18pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

A change in Federal Law is long overdue. I've been smoking the herb since I was 14; I'm 52 now and have health problems alleviated by Marijuana. Grateful that I live in CA, I now use Medicinal Marijuana. The local cops leave us alone.

I have worked and paid my taxes all of my life. It is time the politicians represent me and my beliefs.

End prohibition now,


Fri, 03/28/2008 - 4:54pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Ask any law enforcement official which domestic situation they'd prefer to avoid:

1) An individual or group high on liquid drugs... alcohol?
2) An individual or group high on marijuana?

Does anyone really doubt which drug has the statistically higher ratio of violence & death... even though marijuana smokers face much harsher penalties... including longer prison terms and forfeiture of assets... a drunk person would have to kill somebody to perhaps warrant such justice!

Suggest the following to any prohibitionist, or their legions of stooges & enforcers, and they'll try to kill or incarcerate you... and never mention their intellectual terrorism or they'll sympathetically proclaim you another poor 'paranoid delusional'... another victim of Satan's smoke... in desperate need of the type of compassion & rehabilitation that only an overcrowded massive prison system can provide!

Suggest that the 1st drug war, the Prohibition against 'liquid intoxicants' (the drug of choice of our European immigrants and ancestors... also the original 'gateway drug' ) which officially started in 1919 with the 18th amendment came about exactly the same way as the 2nd drug war, the Prohibition against marijuana... amazingly fast political actions by a radical Progressive Prohibition Movement (PPM)... how fast a responsible & vigilant citizen may wonder... less then 6 hours and no prior committee meetings!

If you're not immediately arrested or shot for your Gnostic rants, or hedonistically libertine crimes against their children and society at large, perhaps because your 'accusers' find you amusing.... like a cat with a wounded mouse or bird... they'll allow you to continue with your conspiracy theories.

EXCEPT... your lawyers sage advice starts to become audible through the cognitive dissonance dissipating inside your newly numbed skull... previously drowning out rational thought and hampering critical thinking (professionals commonly refer to this as 'caveman mode')... he's screaming at you to 'ZIP IT' --- because your 'accusers' will use everything you say and they make up against you, etc, etc...!

Most cops are unwilling stooges of the current Progressive Prohibition Movement! Cops are given great discretionary powers and it's unwise to provoke someone who may be and/or act sympathetic. However, zealot sects like the DEA are trained to react violently against 'druggies', however peaceful, however responsible, even vital, to their existence.

Facts confuse and threaten prohibitionists, and, they should fear the wealth of information and knowledge the few libertarian minded among us possess... not to mention the criminal implications the equally illegal 2nd drug war carries! If only we could get the justice dept to do it's job and strike down illegal laws... as it did when it struck down the 1st drug war in 1933.

I believe it's also long past time to start holding those responsible... accountable... for their serious crimes ... regardless of title or stature... had the supreme court held the PPM responsible for their crimes in 1933 when they repealed drug prohibition... we wouldn't be fighting these dangerous delusional criminals now!

But the fundamentalist PPM remains alive, newly energized, and enabled today thanks to her immortal allies: fear, ignorance, certitude, copious amounts of hypocrisy, and the heavy hand of the police state... so beloved by moralists and the purveyors of gods & governments!

Prohibitionists remain antagonistic and dangerous to a modern egalitarian society... their delusions, desperations, paranoia's, pretenses, and proclamations make them more deceitful, disgusting, and criminal then ever.

Billy B. Blunt
Tacoma, WA

Fri, 03/28/2008 - 8:29pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Agent Scott Haley of Palmer Mass and Chief Kevin P. Gleason of Holland Mass kicked my doors in based on lies because I spoke out about medical marijuana. I now have those police officers in Federal Court. They said I was selling marijuana while hospital records place me in the hospital and in I.C.U. at the time of the "sales". Details up on a link at
David C*J Bunn A/K/A
High Times Freedom Fighter Captain Joint

Tue, 04/01/2008 - 4:21pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Excellent news about new decrim for MJ bill. Now we have 3 or 4 Bills in the House every year involving cannabis, so...... might be a good time to start a separate Bill for allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp (with less than 3% THC) like in France, Germany, Holland, etc. It would help farmers and also create jobs in new industries, i.e., hemp-fibre wood, paper, textiles, etc.

Congressman Frank: Let's get another Bill out on the floor for industrial hemp farming. It would be GOOD for the ecology and the environment.

Fri, 04/04/2008 - 6:37pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I would like to write my congressmen and ask that they support this bill. I have searched, but can't seem to find the bill number or a copy of the bill.

Any help?

Thu, 04/10/2008 - 2:15pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Rep. Frank: "I'm going to call it the 'Make Room for Serious Criminals' bill."

(I don't know the HR may not have one yet....this site would have the info....try a 'search' over the whole site

Tue, 06/03/2008 - 12:16am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

help ????? how does this scenario help:
true event,events

just been arrested for marijuna ,again.

had to ask the cops who were trying to convince me that they are doing there job to protect me and help me.........?

me.why are you guys doing this ? (at the risk of sounding like a jerk and or defiant)
cop.we do this because its our job.....
me.but you guys are affecting my life negatively and setting me back for nothing. my friend it is you ruining your own life smoking marijuana........
me. so by helping you mean arresting me, towing my vehicle, forcing me at the very least missing time out of work, or worse losing my job entirely? and now face losing my apartment or house because i have exceedingly high court feees and fines and missed work or lost my job, i owe 1000 dollars or more just to get my car back. and the court is then going to force me to go into a drug program with
forced drug testing, so if i still had a job i will have to miss time to go to all the meetings drug screenings meanwhile paying for all of this all the while knowing that i am going to continue smoking pot because i need it. then ill fail the drug test then get 3 months in prison with murders rapists and molesters and other violent offenders.
somehow maybe its just me, maybe i am just a inconsiderate defiant jerk.
but how is any of this for my own good or truelly going to help me??

i am sick and tired of this world, i am sick and tired of two faced liars running a muck claiming to try and help but rather throw good people in prison for nothing and then the circle of the criminal system envelopes me and thus trys to turn me into a criminal.
when in reality i just smoke pot, ,
we need alcohol made to be illegal and marijuana made legal.
any intelligent person would realize this.

Wed, 06/18/2008 - 12:53pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

legalize marijuana in its entirety for 2 years.
and force alcohol to be illegal for 2 years.
and lets see what is ok for legal consumption.

Wed, 06/18/2008 - 1:03pm Permalink

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