During our drive up to Phishcapades, Dick Vinegar and I had a nice conversation on the topic of LEGALIZE IT. Dick, the realist, said no fahking chance, the country is miles away from making that a reality. My position was, essentially, if not now, when? My reasons for optimism are ill-formed and diffuse. Prisons are over-crowded and under-funded, therefore amnesty for non-violent drug offenders is the obvious place to start. Rising unemployment and no health care got the people in a state of concern? Give them leave to self-medicate with reefer. Tired of nagging questions about torture regimes, corporate bailouts, and war without end, while the country continues its slide into oblivion? Change the conversation – to reefer!
That said, Barney Frank introduced a new bill to Congress last week: H.R. 2943, the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009. This is basically a national version of the recent Massachusetts law that decriminalized weed and brought us the Great Reefer Cloud of Aught Nine that took shape over Great Woods during the clip above.
Frank has filed a bill that would eliminate federal penalties for personal possession of less than 100 grams of marijuana.
It would also make the penalty for using marijuana in public just $100.
“I think John Stuart Mill had it right in the 1850s,” said Congressman Frank, “when he argued that individuals should have the right to do what they want in private, so long as they don’t hurt anyone else. It’s a matter of personal liberty. Moreover, our courts are already stressed and our prisons are over-crowded. We don’t need to spend our scarce resources prosecuting people who are doing no harm to others.”
Digby and Dick Vinegar are certainly right to have no expectation that this bill can pass the neanderthals in Congress. Much like their unrepresentative stance on health care reform and the public option, these clowns are blithely dismissive of the will of the people when it comes to reefer. At least not until such time as the tobacco companies get their processing plants in order and tell their lobbyists to give the ok. As with the fight for gay marriage equality, the prospects for near-term success are all at the individual state level. In the meantime, it can’t hurt to contact your local rep and let him or her know that you and everyone else you know who secretly smokes pot (which is everyone else you know) will have their back.