I've actually emailed Jim Moran (with whom I vigorously disagree on gun control – his stance on DC v Heller is indefensible) in respect to HR 5483. I don't do this often, as I both see it as a waste of time (are they actually listening to the people they represent, or are they "representing" their interests, e.g., the PACs and SIGs – boy, isn't that a cynical way of looking at things – are there no good public servants?) for the representative and a waste of time for myself. I see little positive – or negative – actually coming out of it. Rather, I've just clogged up the interwebs a little more, as I do here, and there's no reason to if nothing's to be done about it.
But when it comes to decriminalisation of marijuana, I have a soft spot in my heart. I see it as the classic state versus federal power struggle. The states, California in particular, have decided that it is their right to regulate the use of marijuana in their states. The federal government disagrees. Why is really unclear, although California's Proposition 215 did make it all the way to SCOTUS and the federal government won. Somehow, since I moved to Virginia from California, and I can walk the streets of Alexandria, and I can visit Mount Vernon, I feel what this country was when it was just "thirteen sisters" and that they never were one united state with homogenous laws. We had a federation, and it became a republic. There has always been tension between provincial and federal (although this is not the right word, provincial does not seem to have an appropriate antonym) governance. I guess maybe I just feel it more here. Marijuana is a real civil rights issue, and it's also a real state vs federal issue, and as such, I can't help but want to see it changed to favor people first, the state second, and the country third.
Petty marijuana crime prosecution puts a ridiculous strain on our resources as an entire country. We have judicial, military, treasury, and police forces involved in the interdiction, location, and prosecution of marijuana-related cases. I understand there are the huge cases involving many tons of marijuana (and still think that could be legalised and taxed...), but we are also putting people away for their "third strike" after finding them in possession of an ounce of marijuana. Granted, an ounce is a lot of marijuana, but it doesn't exactly make one a dealer. I would think you'd need at least a kilogram before you had a self-sustaning marijuana distribution business.
If we can incrementally decriminalise marijuana, and move towards a more sensible "drug war" policy, we can free up tens (hundreds?) of billions of dollars used in prosecuting this "war" which is both ludicrous and unwinnable (less so, in fact, than this so-called "Iraq War"). One cannot win the hearts-and-minds of a people with laws and force (that is, in fact, how this country was founded). It is possible to tax them, however, and provided the taxes do not go so far that your Sam Adams and John Hancock sorts get uppity about it, you should do okay.
My guess is it will go nowhere, and Moran will either not respond or will respond with some canned reason why a man who believes in state healthcare, welfare, gun confiscation, more leave for federal employees, and posts the smarmiest bullshit he can on his congress website would be against decriminalisation of marijuana. I can hear it now: "for the children!"
What a country.