Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 will be a day fondly remembered by many. It marks the very first time that US Congressmen have introduced a bill that would make marijuana completely legal under Federal law. US Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) are the primary sponsors of HR 2306
, the 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011'
. This bill would remove all Federal penalties for its possession, sale, and cultivation. Ask your US Representative to support and co-sponsor the 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011'NORML
, along with representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance
(DPA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy
(SSDP), and the Marijuana Policy Project
(MPP), worked closely with members of Congress in drafting the measure.
In 1937, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act
, criminalizing its possession and sale unless you owned a proper tax stamp. The problem is, the Federal government only made very few of them. In 1969, the Marihuana Tax Act was ruled unconstitutional
by the Supreme Court. In 1970, they passed the Controlled Substances Act
, splitting up various drugs and substances into 5 "schedules", where Schedule I means a compound or drug has "no medical value" and "high potential for abuse"; and Schedule V means a compound has "low potential for abuse", "accepted medical use in treatment in the US", and accepts a certain level of physical and psychological dependence. Marijuana is currently listed in Schedule I of the CSA. The 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011' will remove marijuana from the CSA's Scheduling system completely, thus leaving it up to each individual state whether - and how - to legalize and regulate.
The federal government would no longer be able to lawfully raid dispensaries or compassion centers, or arrest anyone for simply possessing, selling, or growing it.
Marijuana was originally placed in Schedule I as a temporary measure. During that time, the Nixon administration put together a commission chaired by Republican governor of Pennsylvania Raymond P Shafer. The commission, called the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
, returned in 1972 with recommendations
to "decriminalize possession of small amounts" of marijuana, as well as a recommendation to officially recognize its medical value. President Nixon violently opposed
these recommendations, threw the report in the trash, and started his "War on Drugs".
Since that time, 16 states have legalized marijuana for medical use
. Some, like Rhode Island and Colorado have had great success, others have had but a few small problems
, and yet others can't even get out of the starting gate
. Beginning in the Bush administration and continuing with the Obama administration, the DEA has raided hundreds of state-law abiding dispensaries, cooperative gardens, and compassion centers in these states
. Another 15 states
have laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis. Last Friday marked the 40th anniversary
of Nixon's "War on Drugs," a public policy decision that has had devastating effects on our communities
and on nations around the globe where our country has exported our war onto foreign soil. The War on Drugs quickly turned into a war on people, primarily African Americans. Recently, the Global Commission on Drug Policy
released a report unequivocally stating "The global war on drugs has failed,"
and calling for the experimentation of legalization/regulation policies in its place.
Watch a video of Ron Paul explaining why this bill needs to pass.
This bill's introduction and passage can help state initiatives such as HB1653
, Pennsylvania's Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (named after Governor Shafer
), introduced by Representative Mark Cohen and Senator Daylin Leach. One reason many legislators use when opposing reform bills is because of Federal law, and fear of putting citizens and/or employees of their state at risk. It is therefore necessary that this bill pass into law for states to be able to successfully implement legalization/regulation policies. This is the perfect time to ask your US Representative
to support and co-sponsor HR 2306, the 'Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011'. It will only have a lasting impact if it's taken seriously by enough members of Congress that it actually goes through the system. With the 2012 elections looming, you can bet there will be plenty of polling of public opinion on marijuana policy leading up to debates, and the issue is sure to remain at the forefront during this time.