Presumably because April 20 is a Sunday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) today introduced his briefly anticipated marijuana decriminalization bill. Dubbed the Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008, it would eliminate federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams (about three and a half ounces) of marijuana and the nonprofit transfer of up to an ounce. This is similar to the change recommended by the Nixon-appointed National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (a.k.a. the Shafer Commission) 36 years ago. As in the case of online gambling, Frank sounds libertarian on this issue:
To those who say that the government should not be encouraging the smoking of marijuana, my response is that I completely agree. But it is a great mistake to divide all human activity into two categories: those that are criminally prohibited, and those that are encouraged. In a free society, there must be a very considerable zone of activity between those two poles in which people are allowed to make their own choices as long as they are not impinging on the rights, freedom, or property of others. I believe it is important with regard to tobacco, marijuana and alcohol, among other things, that we strictly regulate the age at which people may use these substances. And, enforcement of age restrictions should be firm. But, criminalizing choices that adults make because we think they are unwise ones, when the choices involved have no negative effect on the rights of others, is not appropriate in a free society.
Guess who the lone co-sponsor is.