Posted by: Cartoon Pig Dog | July 30, 2008

MARIJUANA BILL INTRODUCED TO THE PUBLIC

 For the first time in thirty years I feel that we may finally be getting close to a Nationwide reduction in marijuana arrests and harsh penalties for possession.  HR5843 is now in Congress and has been introduced to the public and the media. it has gained several supporters from both parties and several medical and law enforcement groups. 

 At a press conference held this morning, members of Congress called on their fellow lawmakers to remove all federal penalties that criminalize the possession and use of marijuana by adults.

“To those who say that the government should not be encouraging the smoking of marijuana, my response is that I completely agree,” said Representative Barney Frank (D-MA). “But it is a great mistake to divide all human activity into two categories: those that are criminally prohibited, and those that are encouraged. In a free society, there must be a very considerable zone of activity between those two poles in which people are allowed to make their own choices as long as they are not impinging on the rights, freedom, or property of others. I believe … criminalizing choices that adults make because we think they are unwise ones, when the choices involved have no negative effect on the rights of others, is not appropriate in a free society.”

Rep. Frank, along with co-sponsors Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Lacy Clay (D-MO), urged lawmakers to support HR 5843, An Act To Remove Federal Penalties for the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults, which would eliminate federal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana, and for the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana. Other co-sponsors of the measure include Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA); Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

This proposal reflects the basic recommendations of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (aka the Shafer Commission) in its groundbreaking report to Congress in 1972 titled Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults and this should be of no interest or concern to the government,” said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre. “It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals. “

 

“I am a 43-year-old man, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, I pay my taxes and, like millions of other Americans, I occasionally smoke marijuana. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would wish to treat me like a criminal, based on my responsible use of marijuana. It is time we stopped arresting responsible marijuana smokers, and HR 5843 would do that under federal law.”

This is the first federal marijuana decriminalization bill to be introduced in Congress since 1978, and reflects the changing public attitudes that no longer support treating responsible marijuana smokers like criminals. According to a nationwide Time/CNN poll, three out of four Americans now favor a fine only, and no jail, for adults who possess or use small amounts of marijuana.

Each year in this country we arrest more and more of our citizens on marijuana charges. In 2006, the last year for which the data are available, we arrested 830,000 Americans on marijuana charges, and 88 percent of those arrests were for personal possession and use, not trafficking. They were otherwise law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana.

Since 1965, a total of nearly 20 million Americans – predominantly young people under the age of 30 — have been arrested on marijuana charges; more than 11 million marijuana arrests just since 1990.

Currently 47 percent of all drug arrests in this country are for marijuana, and another marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds. Police arrest more people on marijuana charges each year than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

As President Jimmy Carter said in a message to Congress in 1977, “Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to the individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.”

Personally, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this event than with an all pot smoker get together somewhere very public and in open view of the media and our lawmakers. I’m speaking, of course, of Washington D.C. And we will be doing just that and I’d like to invite all of my friends and anyone else who happens to read this to come and join us, (especially those with artistic abilities).

Details on the get together in D.C. will be in my next blog, coming up soon.

Thanks go to Allen St. Pierre, the NORML Foundation and Representative Barney Frank for keeping me updated on these and other events. For more information on HR5843 or for legal information you can contact NORML’s legal counselor, Keith Stroup at Keith@NORML.org

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Responses

  1. Allen St. Pierre from NORML posted his own blog about today’s press conference. You can read his blog here: http://tinyurl.com/DecrimConf . And there is a poll being run for one day by CNN, to put in your vote go to CNN.com and find the poll about half way down the page on the right. The last time I looked, those favoring legalizing marijuana outnumbered those against by 66% for and 34% against.

  2. This would be great if passed. Less incarcerations, and incriminating policy.

  3. Finally the bill was put up to question. I knew it to be only a matter of time because awareness of the benine plant is becoming more eminent. By all means, arrest those who do drugs and infringe rights or commit acts of violence or destruction. Hemp is a resource the US could use to strengthen our economy and rid ourselves of foreign oil. We could become energy independant. Hemp can be used for so many things including medicin, textiles, food, essential oils and lotions, paper, housing, and much more. It is time for the United States to get a clue and pass this bill. Get with the times so we can prosper!


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