Rep. Frank introduces marijuana decriminalization bill
April 17, 2008
By Daniel W. Reilly
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced a bill Thursday that would decriminalize the personal use of marijuana and legalize the use of medical marijuana in certain states.
“I think it is poor law enforcement to keep on the books legislation that establishes as a crime something which in fact society does not seriously wish to prosecute,” Frank said in a statement.
“In my view, having federal law enforcement agents engaged in the prosecution of people who are personally using marijuana is a waste of scarce resources better used for serious crimes.”
In a pre-emptive response to the bill’s critics, Frank said the bill is not an encouragement to use the drug. Rather, it is an attempt to increase regulation of the product and to channel law enforcement money into more effective areas.
Marijuana law reform advocates praised Frank’s bill.
“Congressman Frank’s bill represents a major step toward sanity in federal marijuana policy,” said Aaron Houston, of the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization which supports decriminalization.
“The decades-long federal war on marijuana protects no one and in fact has ruined countless lives. Most Americans do not believe that simple possession of a small amount of marijuana should be a criminal matter, and it’s time Congress listened to the voters.”
Frank’s bill would remove federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana but would not change existing laws governing the sale of transport of the drug.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) joined Frank as a co-sponsor of the bill.