Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) will introduce "bi-partisan legislation tomorrow ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states legalize, regulate, tax, and control marijuana without federal interference," according to a press release from the Marijuana Policy Project that just hit my inbox. More from that email:
Other co-sponsors include Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The legislation would limit the federal government's role in marijuana enforcement to cross-border or inter-state smuggling, allowing people to legally grow, use or sell marijuana in states where it is legal. The legislation is the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition.
Rep. Frank's legislation would end state/federal conflicts over marijuana policy, reprioritize federal resources, and provide more room for states to do what is best for their own citizens.
I called Morgan Fox at MPP to ask about the chances that this bill will get any serious debate time in the House (a fair question, considering that it has only one Republican supporter at the moment). "It's definitely going to get a serious debate, probably more in the media than on the floor of the House," Fox told me. "But I think it needs to be debated on the floor."
What does MPP see as obstacles?
"Someone in the prohibitionist camp could hold it up as long as they wanted, but the slew of opinion pieces that came out last week calling for the end of the failed drug war will give this momentum," Fox said.
While Paul's status as a declared presidential candidate should help with media pick-up, Frank is leading the press teleconference tomorrow, and Paul's not even on the call.
Previous Frank-Paul partnerships include a 2010 op-ed to reduce military spending and a marijuana decriminalization bill introduced in the House in 2009. In the intervening two years, Arizona and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana, and the Connecticut legislature has moved to decriminalize it. Now former U.S. Attorney John McKay and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes are organizing to completely legalize marijuana in Washington State. The time is ripe.