Puff, Puff, Pass This Bill

Puff, Puff, Pass This Bill
Posted by CN Staff on August 05, 2008 at 05:55:55 PT
By Dustin Stonecipher
Source: Daily Texan
Texas -- There's something that's rising faster than gas prices these days: marijuana use (and perhaps there's a correlation between the two?). According to USA Today, marijuana use among college students rose from 27.9 percent in 1993 to 33.3 percent in 2005. And that statistic is only getting higher. With the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's recent crackdown on fake IDs, it is becoming easier - and more likely - for underage students to obtain marijuana rather than alcohol.
Is that a bad thing, though? The marijuana battle has raged for decades, with youth insisting that it is harmless and older people believing it will not only turn youngsters on to harder drugs but will create a generation of burnouts and deadbeats.This battle might be soon coming to an end. A bill proposed by Rep. Barney Frank and co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul would call for the legalization of the possession and sale without profit of up to 100 grams of marijuana.What is the world coming to when sixty-something politicians begin calling for the legalization of marijuana? I thought the argument to make the green stuff legal was just for hippies and anyone who goes to Eeyore's Birthday at Pease Park. But it turns out that there are sound reasons that these senators, and others in Congress, are calling for a legislation change.The main issues the bill combats are our misguided law enforcement agencies and our overfilled prison system. According to a recent interview with CNN, Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, stated that marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for all violent crimes combined. And the Web site of Harry Browne, the late politician and one-time Libertarian candidate for president, states that nearly 88 percent of those marijuana convictions are for possession only.That means that hundreds of thousands of people are in prison for smoking weed. It also means that millions of dollars were spent finding, arresting and charging these "criminals." Those millions could have been used to catch rapists, robbers and murderers.Here in Texas, the penalties for marijuana use and possession are some of the harshest. As a college student, you will automatically lose any financial aid scholarships., an online legal center, states that possession up to one pound carries a six-month to two-year prison sentence that can be reduced to probation and drug therapy if there are no prior arrests. However, the charge will remain on your record, and a second marijuana offense becomes a felony.The Drug Enforcement Agency's Web site says that "legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior and drugged drivers."Nothing has been proven that links marijuana to physical dependency. Nothing has been proven that shows marijuana presents any health consequences beyond those of smoking tobacco. But you know what does cause dependency, serious health issues, violently erratic behavior, impaired drivers and millions of dollars in treatment issues? Alcohol, an old American staple. Alcohol was illegal in the early 1900s, and people quickly realized the government was overstepping its bounds. Eventually, marijuana will lose its taboo image as well. This bill is the first legitimate step in that process.I don't smoke pot, and I do believe that marijuana causes you to become temporarily impaired. But I understand when legislation is enforced based on paranoia and infringes on personal rights. As Rep. Frank said, "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time." Unless what you do in your leisure time is dangerous to others, it simply shouldn't be an issue. Be responsible with anything you do, from drinking to smoking. Because until this law is passed, youngsters will have to be content with getting high on life. Responsibly, of course.Stonecipher is an English and history senior.Source: Daily Texan (TX Edu)Author: Dustin StonecipherPublished: August 5, 2008Copyright: 2008 Daily TexanContact: editor dailytexanonline.comWebsite: Articles:Local Buzz from Marijuana Bill Surprises Clay To Weed Out Pot Laws?
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