Congressman: Stop arresting casual pot smokers

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Smokers would be allowed to carry small amount

PHOENIX - One member of Congress wants police to stop arresting responsible marijuana smokers.

As you can imagine law enforcement does not necessarily think that is such a good idea.

We have heard a lot about medical marijuana usage and whether or not it should be legal, but now Congress is talking about marijuana use in general and how the United States should stop arresting responsible users.

One Phoenix resident tells 3TV, "As long as you use it in moderation I don't see how it's harmful." That was the feeling on the streets of Tempe and it turns out some members of Congress could not agree more.

Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts is proposing House Bill 5843 which would make it legal for Americans to possess fewer than 100 grams of marijuana. It is a bill with bi-partisan support.

NORML, or the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says marijuana should be treated no differently than alcohol.

According to NORML, some 830,000 Americans were arrested last year, 88% of those for personal marijuana use. A marijuana smoker is arrested every 38 seconds. Some of them in states where medical marijuana use is legal.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession rarely go to jail and vehemently opposes any legalization of marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise. And while this bill, if passed, would change federal law, it would not change state law.

Frank clarifies that, "If a state wants to use it's legal resources to do this, a state is free to do so."

Arizona does. Here the penalty for possession of pot is a misdemeanor, but depending on the amount, could be considered a felony.

In the meantime the sponsors of this house bill are hoping for hearings on the issue early next year.