CANNABIS CULTURE – American Congressmen Ron Paul and Barney Frank, who have co-sponsored several recent pro-marijuana and hemp bills, appeared on Active Voice Radio to discuss medical marijuana, hemp, decriminalization, and President Obama’s recent comments on legalization.
Paul and Frank introduced “The Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009” on April 2, which would eliminate federal laws prohibiting farmers from growing non-psychoactive industrial hemp. The two congressman have also co-signed the “Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2008“, which would enact legal protections for medical marijuana users, and the “Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2008“, which would have removed federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana.
The congressmen were interviewed separately by independent public radio producer Chris Goldstein, who asked them about the proposed bills, action by Attorney General Eric Holder to stop medical marijuana raids, and President Obama’s recent mockery of online marijuana supporters.
“I would think a lot of people ought to be disappointed”, Congressman Paul said about Obama’s town-hall comments on legalization, “because he’s indicated that maybe he’d bring about some changes, and most people thought he’d be a little bit more tolerant. But it doesn’t look like he’s going to be, so it was a disappointment to a lot of people, including myself.”
Despite his disappointment in the president, Paul was positive about the future, and said that he thinks public and political attitudes are changing.
“Overall, I’ve generally been optimistic that the country will eventually wake up and see the futility of the drug laws. I think sentiment is changing in the Congress. […] Politicians will shift when they’re sure about the sentiments – when they’re sure it’s not going to hurt them politically. I think that’s where we’re winning – and maybe all of a sudden they will decide it’s not a big deal.”
Paul also discussed the many uses of hemp and said that one of his kids bought him a hemp t-shirt.
“Hemp is pretty easy to grow,” he said, “it uses very few chemicals and could compete with cotton.” Then he said with a laugh, “maybe the cotton industry is keeping hemp from coming.”
Congressman Frank congratulated his home state of Massachusetts for voting to decriminalize marijuana possession in a fall ballot referendum and said the drug war is a waste of resources.
“There is this recognition that an effort to prohibit absolutely something that’s widely desired and seen by many people as not harmful if done moderately – it corrodes law enforcement. […] To have our law enforcement and judicial and police resources tied up by prosecuting people for smoking marijuana at the expense of more serious crimes is a great mistake.”
Frank said that activities like smoking marijuana and gambling should be personal choices made without government interference.
“The notion that if the government doesn’t make something a crime, it’s encouraging it is a very authoritarian notion. They’re ought to be a wide range of human activity that’s none of the government’s business – that the government neither prohibits nor encourages – and I would put marijuana in that category.”
Listen to the interviews on Public Radio Exchange (you must sign up – but it’s free!)
Rep. Paul – http://www.prx.org/pieces/34992
Rep. Frank – http://www.prx.org/pieces/34982