A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Carl Bivona
Stoners all around the nation celebrate as they take small steps locally, and nationally to legalize marijuana.
On April 23, US Congressmen Barney Frank proposed a bill to congress in efforts to strip the government of their authority to arrest responsible cannabis consumers.
“It’s time for the politicians to catch up with the public on this issue,” said Frank. “The idea of locking people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly.”
Frank’s pending bill, H.R. 5843,is also known as an “Act to Remove Federal Penalties for Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults.” This bill is being co-sponsored by former presidential candidate, Congressmen Ron Paul.
If passed, H.R.5843 will ensure the rights to the American people, eliminating all federal penalties prohibiting the personal use and possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana. Under this bill, adults who consume cannabis would no longer face arrest, prison, or even the threat of a civil fine.
Frank’s bill is the first federal decriminalization legislation introduced in 24 years, and Frank believes this proposal is strong, where previous proposals have failed.
“Past bill’s have called for release of prisoners already serving their sentence, and enabling the government to tax the plant,” Frank explained. “This bill is focused on the here, and the now. People are being arrested for harmless crimes, and this must stop.”
On a local level, if Key Westerns Joe Hart and Hans Ashbaucher have their way, Florida will join California, Arizona and 10 other states already smoking legal medical marijuana.
Hart and Ashbaucher, both HIV-positive, smoke marijuana to fight nausea, a side effect from the chemotherapy they must go through to stay alive.
With combined efforts along side a dozen medical marijuana groups, the two plan to place a referendum on November’s Florida ballot. This was the same approach used by both California and Arizona.
The group currently has close to 30,000 signatures, but need 15,000 more for the bill to be proposed to state legislatures.
The ballot states that patients have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes when a licensed physician has certified it, that doctors cannot be prosecuted for prescribing it, and people cannot be prosecuted for selling it to patients.
Several Florida groups are supporting and working on the petition drive including; The American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimum, the Florida Governor’s Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS, the Florida Medical Association, and the Dade County Medical Association.
“This ballot simply places medical decision making where it belongs,” said Andy Cayton of the ACLU. “In the hands of physicians and their patients. This initiative will politely dictate that the generals and sheriff step outside the physicians’ examining room and leave doctors and patients alone.”
The earliest references to cannabis are in a pharmacy book written in 2737 BCE by Chinese emperor Shen Nung, calling it the “Liberator of Sin.”
Marijuana raised in popularity throughout the 20th Century, and reached an all-time high in the mid 1990’s. According to the latest USA Today polls, 80 percent of those polled were in favor of medical marijuana.
“If the petition gets passed to the legislature, I will vote in favor for medical marijuana,” claims USF psychology student, Bridget Petty. “Herb is natural, and there are far more alcohol related deaths per year then marijuana. So if you can throw back a beer, I don’t see why you cant light up a joint.”
Whether or not this country will become completely pot-friendly is still unclear, but one thing that is for sure is these bills should send the youth missing from previous elections running to the booths this November.