50th Edition, News

Congressman Frank says “legalize it”

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

By Gabriel L. Nadel,
Volume 35
March 17, 1995

Newton’s congressman Barney Frank startled many upon revealing his stance on marijuana legalization, on a Fall River talk show. Frank’s views, which he claims were public knowledge prior to the show, certainly were new to many.
“It was a slow news day, and someone from the [Associated Press] got a hold of it, and it went on the wire. It wasn’t a secret, that’s just how the press works sometime,” Steven Robinson, of Frank’s Newton office said.
Frank’s stand had been published repeatedly prior to the Fall River incident. In the May 22 Boston Globe, Frank argued against Clinton’s director of drug control policy, Lee Brown, making very clear his desire for a change in America’s drug policy. Frank emphasized the potential benefits of marijuana legalization.The change Frank advocates is not for complete legalization. Frank proposes that citizens over the age of twenty-one should be permitted to smoke marijuana in private and to carry small amounts for “friendly transactions.”
Frank does not, however, condone the use of marijuana.
“I think smoking pot is stupid, I think smoking cigarettes is stupid, but just because something is stupid doesn’t mean it should be illegal. If we outlawed everything that is stupid, we would live in a very oppressive society,” Frank said.The sincerity of his condemnation of marijuana use has come under fire in many newspapers, including the February Newton Graphic. A cartoonist depicted Frank as a jolly man with a smoking joint in one hand and a lighter in the other. Frank sports a shirt that says “Pot smoking OK over 21!” This cartoon was placed next to a drawing of “Barney the Dinosaur.” The two were headed “Barney for Kids” and “Barney for Adults”; the dinosaur was saying ‘Hi!’ and the Congressman was saying ‘High!’.
Frank admits that legalization “might increase the pot consumption of adults.” He believes the money saved from policing importation could be used for treatment and prevention.
Junior Dan Corsetti agreed, “Nobody doesn’t smoke pot because it is illegal, if it is legalized there won’t be any noticeable increase in use. And besides, by the time someone is twenty-one, they made up their mind [on the issue of smoking marijuana].”
Most South students are in general agreement with Frank’s proposal, but the opposition is evident and extremely vocal as well.
‘If you legalize drugs you are going to have more people doing stupid [stuff] like driving stoned, and then you are endangering people, other than the [users],” one anonymous senior said.
A parent said, ‘Pot by itself isn’t so bad, but when you allow [marijuana], you are indirectly pushing people to try new and [more dangerous] drugs.”
Frank addressed this common rationale by stating that “marijuana-cocaine-heroin is not unconditional.”
On a national level Frank drew praise from The National Organization for the Legalization of Marijuana.
Boston Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) public relations officer Jack Kelly reiterated the steadfast advance of the DEA. “The DEA is unequivocally against the legalization of illicit drugs,” Kelly said.
Recently, there has been a growing tide of legalization sentiment in the Newton and greater community.
“Frank is just the latest in a growing list of public officials who want marijuana decriminalized,” Christopher Walsh of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition said.
“It’s about time someone stepped up and spoke publicly for legalization. I believe that plenty of politicians want in their hearts legalization, but are afraid of what it will do to their image,” one South freshman said.

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