Pubdate: Sat, 02 Aug 2008
Source: AM New York (NY)
Copyright: 2008 AM New York
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Partnership for a Drug Free
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Congress can be so groovy.

Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank announced a proposal Wednesday to
strike down penalties against those possessing less than a 100 grams,
or almost a quarter-pound, of marijuana.

"This is not just some flakey notion. This is a serious issue," Frank,
a Democrat, said by phone from Washington, D.C.

Frank added that he thought the issue would resonate with newer

"We need to show younger people that it is relevant for them to get
into politics," he said.

The bill was introduced in April, and was co-sponsored by Texas Rep.
Ron Paul, a Republican. If passed, it would permit marijuana smokers
to legally possess 3Aounces of cannabis and permit the non-profit
transfer of up to an ounce of pot. The bill will not affect state laws
regarding marijuana possession.

This is the first time since 1978 that a bill decriminalizing
marijuana has been introduced on the House floor, according to the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Calvina Fay, executive director of Drug Free America Foundation,
called the resolution "disturbing."

"Three and a half ounces is not an insignificant amount," she said.
"You can roll between 210 and 420 joints with that amount, depending
on the quality of the marijuana. And we don't know who would run these
'not-for-profit entities' the bill talks about. We'll end up with one
on every street corner, more than Starbucks coffee shops."

Frank conceded that the chances of the bill's passage were, "if you'll
forgive me, not high," a point the bill's backers agreed with.

"I want all marijuana users to relax for a few moments and let this
moment pass," said Keith Stroup, staff attorney with NORML. "This bill
is not going to pass right before a national election. We know it's
not going to happen over night, but I think in the next five or six
years you will see this bill become law."

He pointed to polls showing that a growing number of Americans have
smoked marijuana and support its decriminalization.

"Older Americans who grew up during the 'reefer madness' age may still
think smoking marijuana leads people to become heroin addicts, but
those who want to sit down and relax in the evening with a joint, it's
none of the government's business," he said.

The bill is currently in committee. It is unlikely that it will be
taken up before Congress adjourns for its August recess on Friday.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin