Pubdate: Sat, 15 Sep 2012
Source: Daily Free Press (Boston U, MA Edu)
Copyright: 2012 Back Bay Publishing, Inc.
Author: Margaret Waterman


After speaking before a crowd on the Boston Common at the 23rd Boston
Freedom Rally, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank told The Daily Free Press that
marijuana should be legal and smoking it is an individual decision.

"I don't think anybody should be treated as a criminal for it," Frank
said Saturday of smoking marijuana.

Frank headlined the list of speakers at the rally, which also known as

The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, or MassCann, ran the
rally, partnering with the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

Frank told The Daily Free Press that people should register to vote
and get informed.

"Find out what the position is of people," Frank said, "and if nobody
that represents you is on the right side, call them up or email them
and say, 'I vote and hope you'll change your mind, and if you don't I
won't vote for you.'"

MassCann Treasurer Bill Downing said Frank was coming to help "whip up
the supporters."

"We are putting up a big push on voter registration this year," he
said, referring to Question 3 on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If Question 3 passes, people with certain medical conditions would be
able to have up to a 60-day supply of medical marijuana at any given
time. Patients with these medical conditions would require written
certification from a physician to obtain the medical marijuana supply.

The law would also allow certain certified centers to grow marijuana
for medical supply.

Downing said the biggest reason for legalizing marijuana is that
"prohibition is just a complete failure."

If the objective was to keep marijuana out of the hands of children,
he said, that has not happened.

Downing said it is easier for kids to acquire marijuana than it is for
them to acquire alcohol.

Standing before the crowd at the rally, several speakers spoke on the
importance of voting "yes" on Question 3 this November.

"If people vote 'yes,' they will greatly reduce the amount of people
getting arrested in this state," said Lieutenant Jack Cole, a founding
member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Cole also spoke about the increase in marijuana-related arrests in the
United States.

"In 1970, we were arresting back then about 65,000 people per year in
this country for non-violent drug offenses," he said. "By 2005,
however, we were arresting 1.9 million people per year."

Almost half of those arrests were marijuana violations, he

Cole said that by doing that, law enforcement "destroyed those folks'

"You can get over an addiction, even, but you will never get over a
conviction," he said.

Frank, who is retiring from his post in the U.S. House of
Representatives this year, told the crowd that people in politics like
to talk about what they can do to reduce crime.

"Sometimes it costs money to reduce crime," Frank said.

Frank said he has "been fighting for some time for a measure that will
reduce crime very substantially" that will not just cost money, but
"make money for the government."

"We can reduce the crime rate by stop treating people as criminals
because they have made the decision to smoke marijuana personally,"
Frank said.

He said marijuana was less dangerous economically, socially and
culturally compared to alcohol or tobacco.

"If this was a beer festival, instead of a marijuana festival, the
cops would have been a lot busier," he said, adding that the marijuana
issue is one in which the public is ahead of the politicians.

Frank again urged the crowd to go out and vote.

"My bet is that most of you are not in the habit of voting regularly
aE& If everybody here votes this November and gets friends to vote, we
will get this changed very quickly," Frank said.

Students and the NORML Women's Alliance also took the stage in support
of Question 3 and of the legalization of marijuana in general.

"We want to change the world of drugs for the better," said John
Decker of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Rally attendees wore T-shirts emblazoned with phrases such as
"Grassachusetts Welcomes You" and "Keep Calm and Hit a Bong."

Attendees could also purchase various pieces of marijuana

Jane-Ann Bilon of Washington, D.C. attended the rally, and said she
was "a hippie from the old days."

Bilon said marijuana should have been legalized 50 years

"I actually have to use it for sleep," she said. "It really is good
for a lot of medicinal purposes. Also, it is not even nearly as
harmful as alcohol."
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MAP posted-by: Matt