Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Barney Frank: a one-man decriminalizing-pot machine

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 11:15 AM

barneyfrankmarijuanatruck.jpg


For better or worse, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank has seen his profile rise in the past year. He's chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and was one of the bailout's most vocal backers, urging fellow members to pass it. Then, after losing confidence in Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, he became one of the most vocal backers for putting restrictions on that same TARP money.

But when Frank is not saving the economy, he's got other things on his mind, specifically sweet, sweet bud.

For the second year in a row, Frank has filed a bill

that would eliminate penalties for people carrying under 100 grams (about

3.5 ounces) of pot and would fine people only $100 for smoking it in public. A similar law passed last year in Massachusetts.

Much has changed since last

year. The Justice

Department has stopped raiding medical marijuana facilities. Also, for

the first time, public support for decriminalization of marijuana is polling above 40 percent.

potchart538.PNG

Last

year one of Frank's eight co-sponsors withdrew support, and the

bill didn't make it past being introduced. The new version, H.R. 2835

has twice as many co-sponsors and has already been referred to a

committee -- the second stage in a six-step process to become an

official bill.

Frank said last year

that he doesn't see the bill passing anytime soon. And as long as that graph

above shows support for legalizing it below 50 percent, he's probably right. But the fact that a high-ranking member of Congress can be so pro-pot and be taken seriously shows just how much progress the "legalize it" crowd has made.

(Graph via FiveThirtyEight.com)  

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