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Legislators aim to snuff out penalties for pot use

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Doomsday101, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

    Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

    "The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business," Frank said during a Capitol Hill news conference. "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."

    The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use -- and not the abuse -- of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation. Watch Frank lay out the proposal »

    The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession are rarely incarcerated. The agency and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have long opposed marijuana legalization, for medical purposes or otherwise.

    Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the ONDCP.

    "Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science -- it is not medicine and it is not safe," the DEA states on its Web site. "Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers."

    Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), likened Frank's proposal -- co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas -- to current laws dealing with alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is permitted, and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse alcohol or drive under its influence, he said.

    "We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers," he said.

    St. Pierre said there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the United States, including himself, and hundreds of thousands are arrested each year for medical or personal use. iReport.com: Is it time to legalize pot?

    There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965, he said, and 11 million since 1990, and "every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested."

    Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for "all violent crimes combined," meaning that police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

    "Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform," he said.

    Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, and Barbara Lee, D-California, said that in addition to targeting nonviolent offenders, U.S. marijuana laws also unfairly target African-Americans.

    Clay said he did not condone drug use, but he opposes using tax dollars to pursue what he feels is an arcane holdover from "a phony war on drugs that is filling up our prisons, especially with people of color."

    Too many drug enforcement resources are being dedicated to incarcerating nonviolent drugs users, and not enough is being done to stop the trafficking of narcotics into the United States, he said.

    Being arrested is not the American marijuana smoker's only concern, said Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance Network. Those found guilty of marijuana use can lose their jobs, financial aid for college, their food stamp and welfare benefits, or their low-cost housing.

    The U.S. stance on marijuana, Piper said, "is one of the most destructive criminal justice policies in America today."

    Calling the U.S. policy "inhumane" and "immoral," Lee said she has many constituents who are harassed or arrested for using or cultivating marijuana for medical purposes. California allows medical marijuana use, but the federal government does not, she explained.

    House Resolution 5843, titled the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, would express support for "a very small number of individuals" suffering from chronic pain or illness to smoke marijuana with impunity.

    According to NORML, marijuana can be used to treat a range of illnesses, including glaucoma, asthma, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and seizures.

    Frank, who is chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said about a dozen states already have approved some degree of medical marijuana use, and the federal government should stop devoting resources to arresting people who are complying with their states' laws.

    In a shot at Republicans, Frank said it was strange that those who support limited government want to criminalize marijuana.

    Asked if the resolution's passage would change his personal behavior, Frank quipped, "I do obey every law I vote for," but quickly said he did not use marijuana, nor does he encourage it.

    "I smoke cigars. I don't think other people should do that. If young people ask me, I would advise them not to do it," he said.

    If HR 5843 were passed, the House would support marijuana smokers possessing up to 100 grams -- about 3½ ounces -- of cannabis without being arrested. It would also give its blessing to the "nonprofit transfer" of up to an ounce of marijuana.

    The resolution would not address laws forbidding growing, importing or exporting marijuana, or selling it for profit. The resolution also would not speak to state laws regarding marijuana use.
  2. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Just another example of big business and lobbyist influence in Washington. I bet if you investigate Franks he is selling out to the Potato Chip and Dolly Madison lobbyist. :lmao2:
  3. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    I don't smoke weed, but I don't think it should be illegal...

    The key is severe penalties for driving under the influence...
  4. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    how in the hell does the law unfairly affect african americans?

    alcohol is far more addicting than pot. some people need to get over it and see a big picture, not just all the hype of today.
  5. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    if someone is under the influence of alcohol, you're going to know. if stoned, it's harder to tell depending on whether or not the car reeks.

    um...from what i hear. :cool:
  6. hairic

    hairic Well-Known Member

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    Prohibition is dumb.

    It creates more problems than it solves. The United States currently has the highest prison population in the world because of it (to be fair, China uses secret prisons, so they're probably nearing close to us percentage wise).

    That's all I'm going to say so I can go back to thinking about football.
  7. utrunner07

    utrunner07 Well-Known Member

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    Did not read the article...but pot should be legalized (and I am about as clean as you come in relation to drugs and alcohol) but just tax the living day lights out of that stuff and have it regulated by the FDA....with the high taxes on pot maybe we can stop increasing taxes on GASOLINE!!!!!!!!!! Washington Politicians are so stupid...
  8. trickblue

    trickblue Old Testament... Zone Supporter

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    I've never had any problems knowing when someone is stoned... thus far anyway... ;)
  9. ScipioCowboy

    ScipioCowboy More than meets the eye. Zone Supporter

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    I completely support marijuana legalization, and I'm very close to supporting legalization of other illegal drugs as well. It seems the war on drugs and similar anti-drug measures have only managed to increase drug use.
  10. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Brotherhood of the Beard Staff Member

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    Here are some other tax ideas.

    Make it a higher tax on all elective cosmetic surgery. Talking about vanity type surgeries (nose jobs, boobs, lipo and such), not stuff for someone with say a cleft pallet, deviated septum, bad injuries or birth defects.

    Legalize prostitution and tax the heck out of it.

    Those two things, combined with the tax on mary jane, should help out a little.
  11. Vintage

    Vintage The Cult of Jib

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    Exactly!

    This is the kind of crap I hear from people who are for tighter gun control....."guns kills people. Take guns away!!11!!!1!!"

    No.

    Allow guns.

    Just make the punishment for using one to kill someone, rob, etc HIGH. Gov't doesn't need to restrict our rights; they need to punish harsher for those who violate the freedom of others with a freedom we are granted (right to bear arms).

    Apply this to marijuana too.
  12. Vintage

    Vintage The Cult of Jib

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    You are srsly turning me on with all of this talk...


    Brain FTW!!!!!!!!!!!
  13. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    did anyone ever say how the law unfairly effected african americans?
  14. Vintage

    Vintage The Cult of Jib

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    I'm guessing its heading here... (from the article)

  15. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    did they get there because of color or because they broke the law?
  16. Vintage

    Vintage The Cult of Jib

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    Well, I think the argument will go something like this...

    "they are targetting the inner cities more than suburban households."


    Which, I guess, could be true.... I don't follow this stuff all that much.
  17. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed Zone Supporter

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    silly argument to me. seems to look for it, so you find it to feel better.

    oh well. make it legal. would be cool to run to 7-11 for a...

    nevermind. : )
  18. jrumann59

    jrumann59 Well-Known Member

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    I haven't seen an accurate way of gauging how much THC is your system at the time of arrest, considering it is stored in your fatty tissues for 30 days and have heard as high as 60 days. So in theory if you smoke up every regularly the THC in system would be over the legal limit. That is the main reason why I am in favor of keeping it illegal especially if the main reason for legalizing it is the medicinal reasons, there are drugs that have concentrated doses of THC. Severe penalties for DUIs they have those now and it doesn't stop anyone, judges are too understanding I am all for 10 yr license suspensions after 3 DUIs for anything plus $10,000 dollar fine and 1 year in jail.
  19. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    There have also been several recent studies, the latest by the British, that show the psychological effects of prolonged mj use has been ignored by many studies. MJ is nowhere near as harmless as some want you to believe.
    Besides which you can still damage your lungs with it if you toke too much.
  20. hairic

    hairic Well-Known Member

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    Same argument also applies to alcohol use. There are prolonged mental health risks, and it will damage one of your vital organs (your liver).

    But are you sent to prison for possession of alcohol?

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