Bills to legalize marijuana have proven to be like crabgrass in the U.S. Congress; they are insanely difficult to kill. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) have introduced new bi-partisan legislation that, if voted into law, will end the federal war against the plant. States will have the power to legalize marijuana, which will open the way for state governments to regulate, tax and control the substance without federal intervention, reports Reason.
Swinging a wrecking ball at marijuana prohibition
An email from a representative of the Marijuana Policy Project informed Reason Associated Editor Mike Riggs that other co-sponsors of the Frank-Paul pot bill include Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). The only element of marijuana regulation that will remain in the hands of the federal government is cross-border or inter-state smuggling. If the bill passes, states can rule that marijuana is legal to grow, use and sell.
Betting on public perception of US drug war
Morgan Fox, the communications manager for the Marijuana Policy Project, believes the new Frank-Paul bill – which echoes reforms Frank sought in 2009 with a similar bill entitled HR 5843 – will attract some attention.
“It’s definitely going to get a serious debate, probably more in the media than on the floor of the House,” wrote Fox. “But I think it needs to be debated on the floor.”
Momentum is on the side of the bill, Fox argues. A recent deluge of op-ed pieces attacking the “failed U.S. drug war” should put wind in the sails of the decriminalization of marijuana bill. The support of declared presidential candidate Ron Paul, who garnered significant grassroots support and media popularity during his 2008 campaign, also creates favorable buzz.
A major tax windfall
Since Frank’s introduction of HR 5843 two years ago, several states have moved forward and legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, including Arizona and Washington, D.C. Connecticut has also pursued decriminalization.
In Washington state, former U.S. Attorney John McKay and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes have joined forces with television travel guide and Edmonds, Wash., resident Rick Steeves in a campaign to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older. Sources estimate that the regulation and taxation of marijuana in Washington state, which will fall under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, could fill the state coffers with $215 million per year.
Barney Frank on marijuana
Edmonds Patch: http://edmonds.patch.com/articles/rick-steves-and-former-us-attorney-lead-effort-to-legalize-pot
H.R. 5843: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-5843
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/22/marijuana-bill-barney-frank-ron-paul_n_882707.html
Marijuana Policy Project: http://www.mpp.org/
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