The Legislation, Modeled after the Repeal of Alcohol Prohibition, comes shortly after the 40th Anniversary of the Failed War on Drugs and on the Heels of a Global Commission Report Recommending Marijuana Legalization
Teleconference: Rep. Barney Frank and Leading Organizations Working to End the Failed War on Marijuana Explain the Significance of the Legislation.
WASHINGTON, DC - Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced bi-partisan legislation on June 23, ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states legalize, regulate, tax, and control marijuana without federal interference. Other co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) [Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) signed on after initial release]. 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. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Leading critics of the war on marijuana explained its significance for state and national marijuana policy at a national tele-press conference. Included in the tele-press conference were:
· Representative Barney Frank (D-4th/MA)
· Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
· Aaron Houston, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
· Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
· Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
Mid June of 2011 marked the 40th Anniversary of President Nixon declaring a war on marijuana and other drugs. In an oped in the New York Times last week, timed for the 40th Anniversary, former President Jimmy Carter called for reforming marijuana laws.
The legislation also comes on the heels of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which released a report on June 2 calling for a major paradigm shift in how our society deals with drugs, including calling for legal regulation of marijuana. The report sent a jolt around the world, generating thousands of international media stories. The commission is comprised of international dignitaries including Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations; Richard Branson, entrepreneur, founder of the Virgin Group; and the former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Switzerland. Representing the U.S. on the commission are George P. Shultz, Paul Volcker, and John Whitehead.
46.5% of Californians voted last year to legalize marijuana in their state, and voters in Colorado, Washington and possibly other states are expected to vote on the issue next year. In the past year at least five state legislatures have considered legalizing marijuana, including California, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington. 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, but the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continues to arrest people under federal law and U.S. Attorneys have in recent months sent threatening letters to state policymakers in an apparent attempt to meddle in state decision-making.
Rep. Frank’s legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.