It has been a few weeks since a bipartisan coalition of legislators introduced HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011, into the House of Representatives. This legislation would prohibit the federal government from prosecuting adults who use or possess personal use amounts of marijuana by removing the plant and its primary psychoactive constituent, THC, from the five schedules of the United States Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Similar to the ending of alcohol prohibition, the federal government would get out of the business of arresting responsible marijuana smokers and allow states to set their own policies.
HR 2306 was assigned to both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The bill currently sits in legislative purgatory and how long it will stay there is entirely dependent on two men. The chairmen of these two committees have thus far refused to schedule the bill for a hearing. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, has made it clear he has no intentions of hearing the bill. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has yet to take a strong public stance.
Stand up for states’ rights and civil liberties by joining NORML in telling these two elected officials that we believe HR 2306 is sound public policy that deserves discussion.
Click here to sign our petition and tell Representatives Smith and Upton to schedule HR 2306 for a hearing!
In better news, we are pleased to announce that HR 2306 now has a new co-sponsor! Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) has contacted Barney Frank’s office and declared his intention to co-sponsor this legislation. He explained his support in a letter to a constituent:
Thank you for contacting me about repealing the federal laws prohibiting the possession of marijuana. I appreciate you taking the time to write, and I welcome this opportunity to respond.
I have contacted Representative Barney Frank’s office and requested to be added as a co-sponsor of H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011. I share your concern about the problems associated with marijuana in regards to enforcing drug laws, creating a black market for illegal drugs, and punishing drug users who need treatment. Federal law enforcement should concentrate its efforts on measures that truly protect the public, and I do not believe that prosecuting those found in possession of small amounts of marijuana should be a federal priority.
Law enforcement agents are forced to operate under scarce resources and I believe it is irresponsible to spend those resources prosecuting the personal use of marijuana. Far more pressing problems demand attention. I think marijuana use for non-medical reasons is a bad idea, and I would discourage anyone from using it, but I don’t believe making it a crime has been a useful or just policy.
If you are interested in following a particular piece of legislation through the legislative process, the website hosted by the Library of Congress at http://thomas.loc.gov is extremely helpful. It provides a wealth of information about legislation under consideration in the current Congress as well as bills introduced in earlier sessions. The site is called Thomas to honor President Thomas Jefferson and his belief in public access to the workings of government.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I welcome your views, and look forward to hearing from you in the future.
You can keep up to date on HR 2306 by visiting its Facebook page. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to visit NORML’s Take Action Center and contact your elected officials and encourage them to support HR 2306.