House lawmakers introduced legislation in Congress today to end the federal criminalization of the personal use of marijuana.
Please take action on this historic legislation today, by sending a letter to your U.S. Representative asking for their support on this. You can find your Representative and automatically send a pre-written letter to them by visiting this site:
This legislation must make it’s way through the House Judiciary Committee, whose Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith from Texas’ 21st District, has already indicated his Committee would NOT consider it, saying, “Marijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S. . . Decriminalizing marijuana will only lead to millions more Americans becoming addicted to drugs and greater profits for drug cartels who fund violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
If you live in Rep. Lamar Smith’s district, the 21st House District, we desperately need you to make sure to send a letter AND call his office to ask that he give this legislation a fair hearing.
You can find a map of the 21st District, here: http://lamarsmith.house.gov/District/InteractiveMap.htm
If you’re not sure whether or not you live in this district, you can find out by going to this website and entering your zip code in the top right-hand corner: http://www.house.gov/
To contact Rep. Lamar Smith directly, go here: https://lamarsmith.house.gov/Contact/
When you are contacting your Representative about this legislation, please be very courteous, and keep your message devoted to facts. If you need help with wording, you can find some great facts and wording in the pre-written letter here: http://www.capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=50800581&type=CO
This bipartisan measure, HR 2306 – entitled the ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011’ and sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank and Texas Republican Ron Paul along with Reps. Cohen (D-TN), Conyers (D-MI), Polis (D-CO), and Lee (D-CA) – prohibits the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess marijuana by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under present law, all varieties of the marijuana plant are defined as illicit Schedule I controlled substances, defined as possessing ‘a high potential for abuse,’ and ‘no currently accepted medical use in treatment.’
Said Rep. Frank, “Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources and an intrusion on personal freedom. I do not advocate urging people to smoke marijuana, neither do I urge them to drink alcoholic beverages or smoke tobacco, but in none of these cases do I think prohibition enforced by criminal sanctions is good public policy.”
The ‘Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act’ seeks to federally deregulate the personal possession and use of marijuana by adults. It marks the first time that members of Congress have introduced legislation to eliminate the federal criminalization of marijuana since the passage of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.
Language in this Act mimics changes enacted by Congress to repeal the federal prohibition of alcohol. Passage of this measure would remove the existing conflict between federal law and the laws of those sixteen states that allow for the limited use of marijuana under a physicians’ supervision. It would also allow state governments that wish to fully legalize and regulate the responsible use, possession, production, and intrastate distribution of marijuana for all adults to be free to do so without federal interference. (To date, lawmakers in six states have introduced legislation to legalize and regulate the adult use of cannabis, and separate statewide initiative measures are planned for 2012 in several additional states.)
Speaking in support of the measure, NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said, “The federal criminalization of marijuana has failed to reduce the public’s demand or access to cannabis, and it has imposed enormous fiscal and human costs upon the American people. It is time to end this failed public policy and to provide state governments with the freedom to enact alternative strategies — such as medicalization, decriminalization, and/or legalization — without running afoul of the federal law or the whims of the Department of Justice.”
You can read the full text of Allen’s remarks from today’s press conference, which is being reported today by major news outlets nationwide, here.
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.
Below is video of co-sponsor Steven Cohen (D-TN) speaking on the House floor today in favor of HR 2306: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.