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No Plans to Legalize Pot, Barry Says

Does D.C. Council member Marion Barry want to legalize marijuana in the District?

He says no, but Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws, said a caller who identified themselves as being from Barry's office called him last month to inquire how to legalize pot in the District.

"They were wanting to know about decriminalization laws, are they effective?" Pierre recalls. "They wanted to know has the District ever done this before? What is the resistance at the federal level? Did we know if the Obama administration is going to be lax about these sorts of things."

Pierre said he does not remember the staffer's name, but was told "to be ready to present them with white papers and positions papers."

But at yesterday's Council meeting, Barry said in a brief interview he did not know anything about the call. Barry, who previously supported unsuccessful efforts to legalize medical marijuana in the 1990s, said he has no plans to push for decriminalization.

Bernadette Tolson, Barry's chief of staff, also recently said she was unaware of the call.

Even if Barry or another council member were to consider reforms to District drug laws, they would first have to lobby Congress to overturn the Barr Amendment, which prevents the city from decreasing penalties for marijuana use and possession. The amendment is named after former GOP Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia, who blocked the city's medial marijuana initiative in 1998.

After leaving Congress in 2003, Barr modified his stance on drugs. He now supports medical marijuana.

--Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  April 22, 2009; 4:08 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Barry is out of step with the times, there is a move across the country to legalize pot. Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001 and their experience has been positive. Now if you are caught with a 10 day supply of your drug or less you face an administrative court, not a criminal court. We can do that here in the USA. A group of 20,000 very serious policemen, prosecutors and attorneys have formed a group to legalize ALL drugs, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition ( ) They see what happened when we legalized alcohol in 1932 as a good example of how drug legalization would work. We can't stop drugs. They're sick of chasing drug users and sending innocent people to prison for decades just because they like to get high. This foolish war on drugs has lasted 37 years and cost us over a TRILLION dollars and we are not an inch closer to stopping drugs. How many millions of Americans are we going to lock up in prison for decades? Legalize ALL drugs now. Mark Montgomery

Posted by: boboberg | April 23, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Legalizing marijuana will have zero impact on cocaine, heroin and the like. So while it may let the pro-drug folks get what they want, it does nothing to help the hard core addicts of the “hard” drugs or the ever increasing prescription drug abusers. It doesn’t reduce crime in our cities (more personal and property crime is attributable to cocaine, meth and heroin users than marijuana). The Mexican drug cartels that currently smuggle drugs into the country will not suddenly stop smuggling, become law-abiding, tax-paying entrepeneurs, and cut their profit margin in the name of generating tax revenue for the U.S. government. They will continue to smuggle and traffic illegally, with the routes that have been long established as successful. The impact on law enforcement will increase, not decrease, as they enforce additional laws about who/what/where drugs are legal. The cost of regulation, licensing, etc will result in increased government expense at the local, state and federal levels.

Meanwhile, the problems faced today will continue. Amsterdam, a real-life experiment on legalizing marijuana and other “soft drugs” is now taking measures to reduce the number of coffee shops (where marijuana sales are permitted) according to the UNODC. Country-wide, the number of these coffee shops has dropped by a third in the past decade: the number of people seeking treatment for cannabis-related health problems has doubled in the same period.

Posted by: mattphillips1 | April 23, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

legalize drugs, tax the supply, use the money to treat the addicts. Stop the trafficing deaths. Take the illegality out of profiting. problem solved.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | April 23, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

his honor for life still in top form.tell them what they want to hear. if it does not work out"they will get over it" not a user here but say legal it and tax it. make a lot of bottom feeders lose clients when they do not have to lawyer up

Posted by: pofinpa | April 23, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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