A federal bill to decriminalize the sale, use and cultivation of marijuana will be introduced today by Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat from Massachusetts and Congressman Ron Paul Republican from Texas, ending the federal government’s blanket prohibition of marijuana. This bill would allow the Feds to enforce cross-border or inter-state smuggling but would let states makes their own rules concerning the regulation of marijuana. It’s being introduced 40 years after the beginning of the “war of drugs” which some lawmakers and drug policy experts argue has been a staggering waste of money and resources. One co-sponsor Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Democrat from Oakland, decried the trillions of dollars spent to incarcerate millions of young people involved with drugs. She said Wednesday, “I co-sponsored this bipartisan legislation because I believe it is time to turn the page from this failed drug war.” So, is it? Do we need a new state-centered approach to drug policy? And if efforts to curb the use of illicit substances haven’t worked so far, what guarantee do we have that this approach will?
Stephen Gutwillig, California Director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), a national organization advocating alternatives to the war on drugs
Congressman Ernest Istook, Distinguished Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional district (1993–2007)