It’s all over the media – as it should be. On Thursday, conservative Representative Ron Paul (R – Texas) and liberal Representative Barney Frank (D – Massachusetts) joined forces to propose HR 2036 – the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.”
Many people believe this bill would actually “legalize” marijuana. It would not. Instead, marijuana would simply be removed from the federal government’s list of controlled substances, leaving individual states free to prohibit it, tax it, or otherwise regulate it according to their own policies.
So does that mean it’s a useless bill?
Well, no. For one thing, it would end the conflict between federal authorities and the sixteen states where medical marijuana has been legalized, but where federal authorities – despite the Obama administrations pledge not to spend taxpayer’s money on doing so – have been working hard to kill the medical marijuana industry.
While there’s no denying that HR 2306 is landmark bill, the fact is that in a House controlled by conservative Republicans, it has almost no chance of passing. Still, it’s important even if it doesn’t pass, because it at least brings the subject of marijuana into open debate, and it’s not just about whether one substance should or shouldn’t be decriminalized.
Among other things, HR 2306:
– shines light on conservative Congressmen and -women who claim to support the Constitution but also support federal drug prohibition. Why? Because technically the federal government doesn’t even have the authority to have a list of controlled substances. This is why when the government wanted to prohibit the use of alcohol in the 1920s (and we saw how well that worked) it took a special constitutional amendment. Under the Tenth Amendment, then, regulation of drugs and the like falls to the states or the people, not the national government.
– shows that the so-called “war on drugs” is really a phenomenal waste of money and time. Supporters of HR 2306 are happy to point out the expense of attempting to curb the use of marijuana (and other drugs) and the horrible consequences associated therewith.
During an interview about the proposed bill, Representative Paul referred to the way marijuana helps those who have cancer, saying, “The war against marijuana causes so much hardship and accomplishes nothing. We knew prohibition of alcohol was very bad, so this is just getting back to a sensible position on how we handle difficult problems.”
Further, said Paul, who is among the field vying for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, the country has already spent a trillion dollars to fight the war on drugs, with less then stellar results. He told the press, “And it’s a catastrophe, just as prohibition of alcohol was a catastrophe. Kids today have an easier time finding marijuana than they can alcohol.”
Representative Barney Frank, the bill’s co-sponsor, also blasted federal drug policies, telling reporters, “Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources and an intrusion on personal freedom.”
Frank added that he doesn’t, “…advocate urging people to smoke marijuana. Neither do I urge them to drink alcoholic beverages or smoke tobacco, but in none of these cases do I think prohibition enforced by criminal sanctions is good public policy.”