Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Reefer Referendum?
Today I was listening to a conservative, but amusing, local radio talk show. The subject was Ron Paul's and Barney Frank's bill to decriminalize small (under 100 grams) amounts of marijuana. The host of the program was in favor of it, as were 95% of the people who called in to express their opinions. I was amazed and DELIGHTED! I have always supported legalization of drugs, especially marijuana. It makes no sense whatever, in my opinion, to try to forbid use of drugs, any more than it did to forbid use of alcohol. A significant percentage of humans want to get high and they WILL get high, whether it's legal or not. PERIOD! END OF DISCUSSION! Regulate the use of drugs, as we do for alcohol (age limits and NO DUI), but don't make it illegal, which results only in filling the jails with great numbers of non-violent offenders.
I am hoping that the proposal to add a tax to the legal sales of MJ will spark the interest of some legislators who might otherwise be on the fence on this issue.
I am posting an article on this subject I found on the Internet:

Barney Frank and Ron Paul offer bill decriminalizing marijuana use
Published on July 30th, 2008
Posted by Eideard in Politics, crime

The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said today, 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…”
Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, 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.
And here is some background on Ron Paul's long-standing support for reform:
"On the issue of drugs, we have spent nearly five hundred billion dollars on the War on Drugs, since the 1970s. Total failure. Some day, we have to admit it. Today, we have the federal government going into states that have legal medical marijuana, arresting people--undermining state laws--arresting people who use marijuana when they're dying with cancer and AIDS, and it's done with, as a compassionate conservative. And it doesn't work. " Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate Sep 17, 2007
"For the first 140 years of our history, we had essentially no federal war on drugs, and far fewer problems with drug addiction and related crimes as a consequence. In the past 30 years, even with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the drug war, little good has come of it. We have vacillated from efforts to stop the drugs at the source to severely punishing the users, yet nothing has improved.
The drug war encourages violence. Government violence against nonviolent users is notorious and has led to the unnecessary prison overpopulation. Innocent taxpayers are forced to pay for all this so-called justice. Our drug eradication project (using spraying) around the world, from Colombia to Afghanistan, breeds resentment because normal crops and good land can be severely damaged. Local populations perceive that the efforts and the profiteering remain somehow beneficial to our own agenda in these various countries. "
Source: House speech, in Foreign Policy of Freedom, p.159-160 Oct 25, 2001

I wish I could summon up even a tiny bit of optimism about the possibility of this bill being passed, but alas, I cannot.
Sigh. It's just plant, people. A plant that makes you feel good. What's bad?


Spartacus said...

MZ - Barney and Ron have it right as do the 95% of those callers on that show. MJ should be legal with the same restraints placed on other "legal" drugs, including cigarettes. But with all of the logic behind making this a fait accompli, the one hang up are the jails themselves.

Building new jails and keeping them full is a very profitable business. Politicians are swayed by money and keeping their constituents (read -- major contributors happy). It also makes them look like "law and order" candidates. You can't take that away now, can we?

Randal Graves said...

A plant that'll make you listen to the jazz music and hang out with shady characters!

I honestly think we'll get closer to universal health care before anything approaching legalization of marijuana because the old boy wingnut PR campaign of demonization has been so damn successful.

DCup said...

I could never figure out why marijuana was a bigger deal than tobacco. I guess it could have something to do with the tobacco lobby.....

Montgomery Maxton said...

ive never smoked pot

Madam Z said...

spartacus: I'm just hoping that the "law and order" candidates will fall out of favor, once the aging, pot-smoking baby-boomers replace the previous generation of old farts.

randal: Those "old boy wingnuts" are demons!

dcup: I'm pretty sure the ALCOHOL lobby is more active in the anti-marijuana campaign, than the tobacco lobby is. Pot is so much nicer than alcohol, with fewer harmful effects, that it would really cut into the beer and whiskey profits if it were legal.

monty: Hey, if you're happy without partaking of illegal substances, I'm happy for you. :)

Forge said...

I personally don't and never have used the stuff, but I have no problem with it being legalized. The same rules that apply to alcohol should apply to drug use and we can move on with our lives.

Now I don't believe it is JUST a plant. It's a plant that makes you do wacky things and effects your mind, but that is your choice.

Bill Stankus said...

I'm with forge ... tho I'm not excited that he's in law enforcement.

I've been around long enough to say this: You can't talk about MJ as a weed or a window sill crop as if it existed all by itself- in fact, it is connected to all sorts of people - some are probably OK and just after making a few dollars but there are others - characters you don't want within 5 miles of where you live. I'm referred to oddball users and the distribution people.

Would legalization change that? I don't know.

If you compare MJ to the prohibition era - there is a fact that should be known. Prior to prohibition there was an ungodly annual consumption of booze and beer. Honk tonks and saloonss were everywhere and minors were not stopped at the doors. Drunken abuse of women was common and drunkards at work were as real problem.

After Prohibition was repealed, there was less annual consumption of booze, laws were in place to curb underage drinkers and the Feds got control of the taxing and QC of the alcohol industry.

One more thing, saying something is human nature or laws should be changed because it is commonly done is a spurious argument.

Just because the neighbors do something doesn't make it acceptable or right. By that logic, today we would all be tobacco users as was so common in the late 1940s and through the 1960s.

Still, go ahead and legalize it and apply the same rules and regs regarding cigarette use.

Liquid said...

I'll inhale and hold my breath waiting.....I swear....I will!

Utah Savage said...

Well, that made me want to take a wee smoke break and like Liquid, I will hold my breath and wait for the sweet good nature that comes with my holding my breath. If pot was legal it would have a lobby of it's own. and if you put the drug in the hands of the corps, there goes the narco-trafficer, off to find a new job. And couldn't we put all the crooks and liars and just plain criminals from the Bush admin, in one of those jails when we empty it of harmless pot smokers?

Helen said...

I have long thought that we should legalize, regulate and tax the hell out of recreational pharmaceuticals (and plants). We'd save billions now wasted on entraping and imprisoning non-violent "criminals". We'd have lots more space in the prisons. We'd have far fewer OD's from people taking drugs that had been cut with something scary and/or deadly, Those taking the drugs would know what a dose really was (since potency wouldn't vary all over the lot). AND, we'd bring in all sorts of $$$ from the taxes. The folks now employed to hunt down drugs could switch to working for the FDA testing them, or could refocus their attention on the dangerous criminals -- the slave runners, and murderers and rapists. And the extra tax $ could go to helping addicts escape their spiral. Some drugs (meth) oughtn't be out there at all but others ought to be legalized and monitored ... .