'Dramatic change' to marijuana laws? What bill before Congress would do.
A new bipartisan bill would remove marijuana from the company of heroin and cocaine in federal regulations, leaving it to the states to legalize pot – or not. Inter-state trafficking would remain a federal crime.
A bipartisan bill introduced Thursday by Reps. Barney Frank (D) of Massachusetts and Ron Paul (R) of Texas, will – if passed – have a substantial effect on the enforcement, acceptance, and creation of marijuana laws coast-to-coast, say a number of analysts.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The bill, known as the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, would delete marijuana from the federal schedule of controlled substances and remove marijuana-specific retributions as spelled out in the Controlled Substances Act.
“Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources and an intrusion on personal freedom,” said Congressman Frank in a released statement. “I do not 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.”
Though the bill has four Democratic cosponsors – John Conyers of Michigan, Barbara Lee of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, and Steve Cohen of Tennessee – the bill stands no chance of passing the Republican-controlled house, say analysts.
Lamar Smith (R) of Texas, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his committee would not consider the bill. "Decriminalizing marijuana will only lead to millions more Americans becoming addicted to drugs and greater profits for drug cartels who fund violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Allowing states to determine their own marijuana policy flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent."
Federal – state disconnect over marijuana
The measure “would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling,” according to a press release from Frank’s office. By leaving the question of legality up to the states, the legislation would allow people “to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal,” without fear of federal prosecution.
Even if the measure doesn’t pass, it highlights the continued incongruence between state and federal policies and enforcement strategies.