Purely symbolic and without any chance of succeeding, of course, but still good: a bill to end the federal ban on marihuana and let states decide whether to legalize it has been introduced in Congress today. It’s been done in a bipartisan effort, notably, by the liberal Democrat Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and libertarian Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Texas).
The proposed legislation would reduce the federal government’s role in marihuana enforcement to fighting cross-border smuggle, and allow people to grow, use and sell marihuana in states where it is legal. It’s the first bill to end federal criminalization of personal use of marihuana introduced in Congress since 1937.
This bipartisan effort comes just three weeks after the report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which rightly called the international War on Drugs a costly disaster, and called for an end to the criminalization and marginalization of drug users, encouraging governments to embark on policies stressing the public health aspect.
What a stretch from the situation in the once-rational Netherlands, where the far right-wing government is advised to declare certain brands of marihuana ‘hard drugs’ (comparable to heroin and cocaine), close dozens of coffee shops, and is planning to implement a nationwide system for the registration of marihuana purveyors…
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) will introduce legislation on Thursday to end the federal ban on marijuana and let the states decide whether to legalize it.
“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 Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates for pot legalization. “The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.”
More than a dozen states allow the sale of medical marijuana, but the practice is not legal under federal law, leading to confusion and clashes between local and federal authorities.
This despite the Obama administration’s announcement two years ago that it would not arrest or prosecute medical marijuana users or suppliers who are not violating local laws — a reversal of the Bush administration’s policy that federal drug laws should be enforced even in states that had legalized medical marijuana. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he will clarify the Justice Department’s position.
The bill by Frank and Paul comes 40 years after President Richard Nixon first declared a war on drugs. Last week, to commemorate the anniversary, a group of former law enforcement officials unveiled a new report detailing the failures of the government’s long battle against illegal drugs and denounces the Obama administration’s current drug policies.
“Since President Nixon declared ‘war on drugs’ four decades ago, this failed policy has led to millions of arrests, a trillion dollars spent and countless lives lost, yet drugs today are more available than ever,” said Norm Stamper, former chief of police in Seattle and a speaker for legalization-advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.