Barney Frank's Plan To Legalize Marijuana
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Barney Frank's Plan To Legalize Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on July 14, 2009 at 11:48:10 PT
By John H. Richardson 
Source: Esquire 
Washington, D.C. -- While Congress debates health care, handles the economic downturn, and the quagmire in Afghanistan, Congressman Barney Frank is eyeing America's draconian pot policies. Read our exclusive interview.To my shame, I started my interview with Congressman Barney Frank about the legalization of marijuana by apologizing to my subject. "I know you guys have a lot on your plate these days, so I'm sorry to be calling you about something kind of trivial..."
Then I did a rapid midcourse correction. "But it's not trivial, because people go to jail over it.""That's exactly right," Frank said.We were talking about the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009, Frank's latest attempt to bring sanity to the federal marijuana laws. Currently, pot is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance under federal law, which makes it worse than morphine, cocaine, amphetamine, and PCP. Possession of a single joint carries a penalty of $1,000 and a year in prison  a charge faced by about 800,000 American citizens every year. This is the government whose judgment on war and economics we are supposed to respect.So I started the interview over.ESQUIRE: Could you tell me why you're doing it at this time? Everybody says you guys have got so much to handle right now.BARNEY FRANK: Announcing that the government should mind its own business on marijuana is really not that hard. There's not a lot of complexity here. We should stop treating people as criminals because they smoke marijuana. The problem is the political will.ESQ: That's my second question. There's already been a lot of change in the country. Thirteen states have decriminalized pot. What's holding up Congress?BF: This is a case where there's cultural lag on the part of my colleagues. If you ask them privately, they don't think it's a terrible thing. But they're afraid of being portrayed as soft on drugs. And by the way, the argument is, nobody ever gets arrested for it. But we have this outrageous case in New York where a cop jammed a baton up a guy's ass when he caught him smoking marijuana.ESQ: You're kidding.BF: Actually, I've just been corrected by my partner  it was a radio he jammed up the guy's ass, not his baton.ESQ: Small radio, I hope.BF: By the way, the bill is bi-partisan: I've got two Democrats and two Republicans.ESQ: Who are the Republicans?BF: Ron Paul. And Dana Rohrabacher from California.ESQ: Isn't Rohrabacher pretty hard-right?BF: He's a very conservative guy, but with a libertarian streak.ESQ: That libertarian streak will help you out once in a while. And who's against it?BF: Well, Mark Souder from Indiana, who's very much a proponent of the drug war.ESQ: When you talk to Souder about it, what does he say?BF: You don't waste your time on people with whom you completely disagree.ESQ: Okay.BF: Here's one thing I would say  there's a great intellectual flaw at work here. People say, "Oh, you want the government to approve of smoking marijuana." And the answer is, no, there should be a small number of things that the government makes illegal, but the great bulk of human activity ought to be none of the government's business. People can make their own choices.ESQ: What about the "public-square" argument that we need to keep prostitutes off the streets and pot-smokers on the run in order to promote a higher level of morality and civic order?BF: One, I don't think it's immoral to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, even though they may make you sick. Morality to me is the way you treat other people, not the way you treat yourself. John Stuart Mill's On Liberty makes a great deal of sense in that regard. I wish more people read him.ESQ: My father forced me to read On Liberty when I was fourteen years old. I still haven't recovered.BF: He deals very thoughtfully with some of the objections.ESQ: Then let me ask you from the other side: Why is the bill so modest? You explicitly say you're not going to overturn state laws.BF: Because I think it's important, when you're confronting political opinions this way, to make it easier for people. This isn't for drug dealers. Although I do think there's a logic that once you've allowed people to smoke, you're going to go beyond that.ESQ: So how far do you really want to go? Decriminalize completely? Tax it, like they're talking about out in California?BF: I don't think that's a debate I should get into right now.ESQ: So you want to be a cautious centrist, waiting for the country to come around?BF: [pause] You think this is centrist?ESQ: [laughs] Okay, sorry.BF: I must say, I don't have a lot of sympathy with people on the left who say, "Oh, I'm not going to settle for some small step, I'm going to take the big step." I'm doing something I think could be passable. I believe the results of modest beginnings will encourage people to go further. And if the people who disagree with me are right, it won't go further.ESQ: Realistically, do you think it's going to pass?BF: Not this year, no.ESQ: How long do you think it will take?BF: There's no point in my guessing. Why would I want to guess? We'll have a rational discussion, and we'll see where it goes from there. Snipped   Complete Article: Esquire (US)Author: John H. Richardson Published: July 14, 2009Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications, Inc.Contact: editor esquire.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #27 posted by FoM on July 18, 2009 at 05:43:51 PT
You're welcome.
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Comment #26 posted by rchandar on July 17, 2009 at 20:42:37 PT:
Thanks. And that doesn't sound like something which couldn't pass, so we'll wait and see.--rchandar
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Comment #25 posted by duzt on July 16, 2009 at 12:09:01 PT
several resolutions
They have been trying for years to pass several resolutions regarding cannabis. The best chance and the one that will make the most difference and be the stake in the heart of the antis will be moving cannabis to schedule 2. That will end all the federal arguments against medical cannabis. It will also be the start of a much different perspective on cannabis as all states will be able to prescribe cannabis, not recommend it and many more who could benefit from it actually will. It will happen in the next year or two.
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Comment #24 posted by FoM on July 16, 2009 at 08:27:20 PT
Is this what you wanted?Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act (Introduced in House)HR 2835
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Comment #23 posted by rchandar on July 16, 2009 at 07:59:45 PT:
Wait a Minute....
Please post another article on the subject: my question is, what would Rep. Frank's solution be? Does the bill abolish federal penalties for MJ or does it redraw the legal sanctions?He says it probably "won't pass." Hey, wait a minute! The Democrats control Congress. We've had bills sputter in the Republican Congresses of 03 and 05, but this is a Democrat-controlled Congress and we'd be crazy to think that it has no chance. Releasing the details of the bill's contents would be a big help, so that we ourselves may debate it.--rchandar
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on July 15, 2009 at 16:31:27 PT
Calif. Tax Officials: Legal Pot Would Bring $1.4B
July 15, 2009URL:
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Comment #21 posted by Skillet on July 15, 2009 at 13:01:29 PT
libertarian streak
"That libertarian streak will help you out once in a while."Kinda like the founding fathers' libertarian streak....... 
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Comment #20 posted by josephlacerenza on July 15, 2009 at 12:04:35 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
...In early 2006, Souder added, to a bill about the office of the drug czar, a provision calling for the fungus Fusarium oxysporum to be used as a biological control agent against drug crops in foreign countries. Several federal and state agencies have previously rejected such use of the fungus because it is highly prone to mutation...Just a side note, here at Montana State University there was a professor who got money from, I think, the DOE to look into using the fungus. The professor, Dave Sands, got into some trouble with the then MSU chapter of NORML. I think that is why we no longer have one on campus. NORML sued Sands to get information regarding his research.Look up fusarium oxysporum and Dave Sands MSU and see what this guy was up to. It is hard to fault him, I have infact worked with him in other capacities and he is a bright man. He always is talking about thinking outside the box. 
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Comment #19 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on July 15, 2009 at 11:29:41 PT
Mark Souder
...He said of today's marijuana plants "the destruction in your brain cells, is more like coke or crack than it is like the old time marijuana" in regard to the addictiveness and modern THC content.......In early 2006, Souder added, to a bill about the office of the drug czar, a provision calling for the fungus Fusarium oxysporum to be used as a biological control agent against drug crops in foreign countries. Several federal and state agencies have previously rejected such use of the fungus because it is highly prone to mutation......He authored and championed the Aid Elimination Penalty (also known as the Drug-Free Student Loan amendment), enacted in 1998 as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The provision suspends eligibility for federal financial aid to college students convicted of drug-related offenses..."...the closer to the clearness of the Bible, the less ability I should have to compromise. So I view, on abortion, there's really not much room to compromise. On certain very difficult issues, because I have friends who are homosexual -- gay -- but there just isn't much room to compromise....""...I believe they can have a propensity to be homosexual. But I believe that it's wrong and it's controllable. That is a fundamental, biblically based view that doesn't leave a lot of room or comfortability in a society where they don't want you to have absolutes....""...I would be part of the fundamentalist evangelical movement that still has doubts about dancing..."
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on July 15, 2009 at 10:48:52 PT
OT: Paul McCartney On David Letterman Tonight
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
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Comment #17 posted by dongenero on July 15, 2009 at 09:24:14 PT
comment #8
Reach across the aisle to Souder? That's funny. More like, in the gutter.
Frank is right, Souder is a waste of time.Give me another argument about how someone is close minded because they can't be open to someone who is close minded.That's like the religious argument that purports; "how can you be considered tolerant if you are intolerant of intolerance."That argument is circular BS. You should find a place to post where the average reader's intelligence level is lower, like the caliber of your logic. 
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Comment #16 posted by ekim on July 15, 2009 at 08:17:52 PT
Kapt comments Jack Herers book led the way
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 News takes on marijuanaCBS News is starting a multi-part special report on marijuana legalization: Marijuana Nation: The New War Over Weed The MI EXPO site is up and running
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Comment #15 posted by Sam Adams on July 15, 2009 at 07:28:27 PT
so true, it's painful to watch the gyrations and gymnastics as the Corrupt Bunch try to "reform" health care - of course, the insurance and Big Pharma payoffs stop them from doing the screamingly obvious solution, single payer. Single Payer, the solution that every other industrialized country on Earth has arrived at, most of them 60 or 70 years ago.So they twist and turn, somehow hoping to find a way to cover an extra 50+ million people under the current system. The only way to do it is to pay another $1 trillion in govt. spending, so basically it will be the taxpayers that foot the bill - through increased taxes or inflation.We are literally watching the future of the American economy being destroyed. If you think it's bad for companies like GM now, just wait another 10 years, health care costs will continue to rise until we say "no" to the AMA, Big Pharma, and insurance lobbies. 
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Comment #14 posted by runruff on July 15, 2009 at 06:54:31 PT
And by ticks and fleas.........
I mean lobbyist!
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Comment #13 posted by Had Enough on July 15, 2009 at 06:50:58 PT
PUFMM - Florida
People United for Medical Marijuana - FloridaThis group is for the 700 Floridians dedicated to spending 2 hours a week to make sure patients in Florida get medical marijuana by 2010 and don't have to wait until 2012!Please request to join if you can spare 1% of your time to making this happen!Right now there are a handful of us dedicated to being the Elite 70 and collect 10,000 each. But let's make this a little bit easier and find 700 people to get 1,000 each.►There are 25 districts in Florida.►In each district we need 28 Elite members.►Each Elite can collect 25-50 signatures an hour.►At 25 signatures an hour, there would need to be 40 hours volunteered.►That's a single work week.►That's 5 days of volunteering 8 hours a day.►That's 10 days of volunteering 4 hours a day.►That's 20 days of volunteering 2 hours a day.►That' It is extremely possible to join the Elite, but we need your commitment and your pledge.Pledge to donate a minimum of one 2 hour shift a week for the next 5 months collecting signatures. That's 1% of your week. Think you can make this small sacrifice to bring patients a lifetime of compassion?***
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Comment #12 posted by runruff on July 15, 2009 at 06:35:30 PT
Mustn't forget the Mammon! 
Barney says his colleagues think cannabis is no big deal, they just don't want to be seen as weak on drugs [crime].Bull pucky! The stats are there! They have access to the same media we do! It's the mammon! They try to serve two masters. The gifts and campaign contributions given to them by the trillion dollar industry, pharmaceuticals!I tell you we will not have anything resembling democracy until we rid congress of it's ticks and fleas!
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Comment #11 posted by christ on July 15, 2009 at 06:00:45 PT
That's Hateful
Shame? That's not quite the word I was thinking of. Maybe "admiration"... for taking leadership on a largely ignored issue that is regionally hovering above majority support.I'll never understand why some people expend the energy to register and post hateful content, thinking it will be subversive. How transparent. I recall a funny BF quote in a recent hearing as he admonished some distracting onlookers. He said, "Grow up!"
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on July 15, 2009 at 05:55:16 PT
Crisis in CA - Calvina Fay Debates Rob Kampia
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on July 15, 2009 at 05:42:09 PT
What is your purpose for posting on CNews? 
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Comment #8 posted by anunlikelyally on July 15, 2009 at 05:33:42 PT:
That's Queer
ESQ: When you talk to Souder about it, what does he say?BF: You don't waste your time on people with whom you completely disagree.Gee, and I thought liberals were supposed to be the open-minded ones. It seems Frank is not interested in reaching across the aisle in the name of freedom and liberty and is choosing instead to demonstrate divisive partisanship. Shame! Shame!
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Comment #7 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on July 14, 2009 at 22:43:54 PT
Babies born addicted to drugs
Authorities said two of the babies were addicted to marijuana and the third tested positive for methadone.
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Comment #6 posted by tintala on July 14, 2009 at 18:26:14 PT:
these politicians aren't leaders they are dictator
If they were leaders they would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, most of em are just afraid, even if they've had a loved ones arrested for cannabis, which I bet most of em have. STill they keep putting recreational and medicinal use in jail.
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on July 14, 2009 at 16:29:08 PT
ESQ: When you talk to Souder about it, what does he say?BF: You don't waste your time on people with whom you completely disagree.Nice! I don't imagine Barney Frank spends much time hanging out with Souder.Nice to hear a leader actually talk about police brutality also. It's verboten for most public officials and media outlets, and it almost never comes up when drug policy is discussed. You don't want to jeopardize the doublethink - people might put two and two together and realize how silly it is to "help" a bunch of people with their addictions by sending armed thugs with miminal education to seize them.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on July 14, 2009 at 14:22:30 PT
How fast can a bill pass?
Seems like it's been out there long enough.Jail, indeed.I've seen far too many people, especially young people seem to get accustomed to being forced to lay prostrate, to bow down, before the power of the laws of our country... especially the prohibition of substances laws.I have a very strong feeling that it is not a good thing. 
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Comment #3 posted by EAH on July 14, 2009 at 13:06:24 PT:
B Frank
Pun intended. I can't believe we have to tiptoe around something so sensible and fair. America is a very weird place. We have to get politicians to understand that LEADING is their job. Politicians still fearful of the "soft on crime or drugs" are years behind the times. Too many of them spend all their time fund raising and ducking the 
responsibilities of the job.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on July 14, 2009 at 12:26:40 PT
I agree.
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Comment #1 posted by duzt on July 14, 2009 at 11:57:15 PT
I've always had enormous respect for Barney Frank. He is a true freedom fighter. He was great on the Daily Show last night. He has always been open about being gay, is very intelligent and normally respectful. He seems like one of the few politicians who is actually real. Too bad we don't have more like him.
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