Friday, June 24, 2011

Thoughts on the Barnie Frank - Ron Paul Drug Bill

U. S. Congressional Representatives Barnie Frank and Ron Paul introduced a bill in Congress Thursday that would take the U. S. government out of the role of enforcing marijuana laws. I'm a longtime proponent of major drug reforms, and the Frank-Paul bill looks interesting:
Two House members introduced a bill Thursday that would remove marijuana from the list of federal controlled substances and cede to the states enforcement of laws governing pot.

The legislation would eliminate marijuana-specific penalties under federal law, but would maintain a ban on transporting marijuana across state lines. It would allow individuals to grow and sell marijuana in states that make it legal.
I first encountered marijuana when I was in the U. S. Army, in early 1966. Over 45 years ago. Since then, our country has spent billions, perhaps trillions, enriching the culture of prohibition, and institutionalizing that deeply in the American economy and legal system:
Well-off white kid gets busted. She hires an attorney for a few thousand, shows up for hearings, goes through treatment, gets her sentence and conviction cleared.

Destitute Latina girl gets busted. She can't hire an attorney. Gets stuck with overbooked public defender. Goes to jail. Gets out. Finds getting work hard. Can never vote.
The drug war has failed on almost every level. It is not about to turn some sort of corner. The people it has enriched are more powerful than ever, whether they be drug testing companies in Anchorage or Mexican billionaires.

I started blogging in 2007 with a blog on the Vic Kohring trial, with one of my closest friends, Fred James. Fred is one of the most ardent supporters of Rep. Paul there is (the image at top is of Paul and James at the 2008 Washington State GOP Convention).

Fred doesn't drink or smoke marijuana. But he has long stood for rational laws controlling their use. In 1989, the Municipality of Anchorage upped its marijuana laws in the wake of a state decision to relax them.

Here's Fred's 1989 testimony before the Anchorage Assembly on the law being considered. A genuine Alaska classic:

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