Dr. Ron Paul (R-Texas) clarified details on the marijuana bill he will introduce with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and others. Paul talked to Larry Kudlow on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report on Wednesday. The bill is not a blanket legalization bill as numerous media have suggested.
Paul's position relates to the Tenth Amendment.
Paul said the bill would return marijuana to the status that existed in 1937. The legislation, he said, would remove it “from the jurisdiction of the federal government.” The states that chose to legalize it for personal use or for medical purposes would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
Kudlow noted the approach is a Tenth Amendment issue. The debate over marijuana has led some states where the herb is permitted for medical use to prohibit the use because of conflict with federal law.
The Wall Street Journal pointed out at the Washington Wire blog that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has refused to implement his state’s medical marijuana law “without assurances from federal prosecutors.”
Another example is California where medical use is legal but dispensaries have been raided by federal law enforcement.
Paul, who is a medical doctor, said marijuana is helpful for people who have cancer and who are getting chemotherapy. There is also potential for people who suffer chronic pain but want to avoid a narcotic pain reliever that can lead to physical addiction.
Paul told Kudlow the federal government’s War on Drugs begun by President Richard Nixon (R) is a “catastrophe” that has cost US taxpayers more than $1 trillion.
Paul’s central point, however, is that the states should have jurisdiction over the issue.
CNBC said that 15 US states and the District of Columbia already permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Federal laws, however, technically place those states in no-man’s land legally.
The US Government’s National Drug Control strategy recently reported that prescription drug abuse is actually the nation’s fastest growing drug problem.
The Vancouver Sun (Canada) has taken up the issue of prescription drug abuse, reporting, “In the U.S. last year, drug-induced deaths, led by prescription painkillers, were second only to car crashes in accidental fatalities, and prescription painkiller misuse is the leading cause of death in 17 American states, according to the Centers for Disease Control.”
Forbes said in a recent article the most popular prescription drug in the U.S. is hydrocodone with acetaminophen. Doctors have recommended banning that drug combination.
A CNN correspondent investigating oxycontin abuse and Florida pill mills wrote, “The Centers for Disease Control data show overdose deaths from prescription painkillers more than doubled from 2000 to 2007, and in 17 states, painkiller overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death.”
Paul told Kudlow that his bill returns marijuana to the same status it held in the U.S. for centuries until 1937. He said permitting medical use of the bill “doesn’t mean you endorse it.”
Paul also pointed out that those who use drugs “have a medical problem” as opposed to being criminals.
Other herbs and ornamental plants that are common also have hallucinogenic or pharmaceutical qualities, from some strains of Salvia and Sage to St. John’s Wort, a plant that grows wild in uncultivated areas.
The history of marijuana in the U.S. is a strange tale. The site DrugWarRant.org provides a well-sourced look at how growing some strains of hemp were required in Jamestown the early 1600s because of industrial uses like cloth and rope, and the eventual prohibition in modern times.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/June 23, 2011)
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