Friday, April 18, 2008

Frank's PUMRAA Bill

Since April 20th falls on a Sunday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced his marijuana decriminalization bill today. The Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008 would eliminate federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams (about three and a half ounces) of marijuana and the nonprofit transfer of up to an ounce. The lone co-sponsor is Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), which explains why Frank sounds so much like a libertarian in this statement:

"To those who say that the government should not be encouraging the smoking of marijuana, my response is that I completely agree. 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 it is important with regard to tobacco, marijuana and alcohol, among other things, that we strictly regulate the age at which people may use these substances. And, enforcement of age restrictions should be firm. But, 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."
Now I have no illusions about the possibility of this bill passing; most lawmakers know the facts support legalization but they're too gutless and scared of the conservative elements in their constituencies making their political lives a living hell to vote intelligently on the subject. Even Frank admits that he hasn't tried to pass a bill like this until now because he was worried about harming his career, which says more about the ignorance and prejudices of certain segments of the American public than anything else. However this turns out though, I applaud Frank and Paul for following their consciences on this important issue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If beer and cigarettes can be legal, so should marijuana.