Ah, can you smell that odor making it’s way from the college dorms? Yep, today’s topic is the cannabis plant. I just found this interesting article on CNN.com reporting that Rep. Barney Frank has called for the end of federal penalties for possessing less than 100 grams of the plant. (I wonder if that’s dry weight or what they might say for actually owning a plant?)
Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank…
I hate to resort to such puerile language; however it must be said, DUH! When there are more people in United States prisons for non-violent drug offenses than there are prisoners in Western Europe it should be painfully obvious that there is something fundamentally wrong with our legal approach to drugs.
“The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government’s business,” Frank said during a Capitol Hill news conference. “I don’t think it is the government’s business to tell you how to spend your leisure time.”
This is incredible. A congressman talking sense? This is either the sign of a new age of reason, hope and prosperity or the apocalypse. I’d like to bring up that age old question. Why is it that we only punish individuals who abuse alcohol, while at the same time punishing people for the mere possession of marijuana? Would it not be simpler to just pursue and punish those who abuse either? Driving under the influence of either would still be a crime. But if your in your home and bothering anyone, what business does the government have to tell you what you can and cannot do?
Representative Frank also took a nice shot at the Republicans when he remarked that it was strange for those who traditionally advocated more limited government wanted to criminalize marijuana. I think this is an excellent point, especially considering the sheer amount of tax dollars spent on trying to enforce said criminalization
But when it comes right down to it, I’d like to know exactly how the federal government interprets the powers given to it by the constitution to allow it to consider possession a felony. I seem to remember something about Federal power being limited to the specific grant of enumerated powers in the Constitution, while the powers to legislate broad criminal laws was left solely in the hands of the states. Mayhaps they use that wonderfully stretched Regulation of Interstate Commerce power. Which then brings into question, what if the drug never crossed a state border and was not part of an interstate market? It’s been a while since I’ve studied constitutional law, so if someone has something to say please do.
Regardless of what some fearmongers may say, lifting a federal ban on marijuana would not result in an end of the drug’s prohibition. Instead, the states would have the choice as to how their laws would treat usage and distribution. This would also allow scientists to pursue and investigate the medicinal uses of the drug, a pursuit which is currently hampered by it’s Schedule 1 classification.
Let’s be honest, I’m not currently taking any firm position on whether this was necessary or not, however, the federal government today, is much stronger and pervasive than the writers of the Consitution ever intended. Maybe it’s time to take a look at what laws could be trimmed away like so much fluff.
While I may not smoke marijuana, I have friends who do. Looking at all of this, the situation seems to be reaching well beyond the realm of the absurd. Maybe what congress needs is to just fraking RELAX!
Live Long and Prosper