Pubdate: Sun, 26 Jun 2011 Source: Daily American (Somerset, PA) Copyright: 2011 The Daily American Contact: http://www.dailyamerican.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4055 MIXED MESSAGES Although it shouldn't be a surprise, mixed messages came out of Washington, D.C. this week. On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration released new graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. On Thursday U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., along with other members of Congress, introduced legislation in the House to limit the federal government's role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling. The initial reaction is how can the government try to encourage more people to quit smoking, but not want to enforce laws against marijuana use. The congressmen said the bill is not an attempt to legalize pot, but is instead intended to clear up the conflicts between federal and state laws. Sixteen states currently allow the use of medical marijuana, an allowance that falls into direct conflict with federal law. States could tax and regular marijuana the same way that they do alcohol. Money is, of course, at the bottom line. The federal government is looking for ways to save money and is trying to reduce the $15 billion spent each year on the war on drugs. If federal laws on marijuana use were removed from the books that would also free up space in federal prisons. There is an enormous potential windfall in the taxation of marijuana. It is estimated that in California alone, a 10 percent tax would yield $1.4 billion. But there are serious moral, religious and medical arguments against legalizing marijuana. And while the congressmen state that the bill is not an attempt to legalize pot, it could be a first step in the process. Congress should reject the Paul-Frank bill. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.