Patt Morrison for June 23, 2011

Congress kicks back, throws on a little Bob Marley and considers legalizing marijuana

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jars full of medical marijuana are seen at Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary.

Chances are this bill is dead on arrival but in a national climate where attitudes toward marijuana are changing and desperation over finding new sources of revenue to close the huge national debt, anything is possible. Congressmen Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Ron Paul, a libertarian Republican from Texas, have put forward a bill that remove the federal prohibition on marijuana—the bill would instead let states legalize, regulate and tax pot. The legislation is modeled after the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which repealed the prohibition of alcohol and handed that responsibility to the states. This is, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, the first bill ever introduced in Congress to end federal marijuana prohibition. Last year California voters came within four percentage points of decriminalizing marijuana and the increasing acceptance of marijuana for medicinal purposes has resulted in dozens of states legalizing medical pot shops. Is there any chance that a law like this could pass Congress, or are Reps. Frank and Paul suffering from a contact high?


Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts’ 4th District; ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee; author of a bill to legalize marijuana

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