We would like to acknowledge our appreciation to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank for taking the time to visit and talk with a group of concerned citizens at Gallery X in New Bedford on his efforts to legalize marijuana.

This proposal, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, would federally legalize marijuana (cannabis) and let states make up their own laws on regulation, cultivation and distribution. Whether you agree or disagree, we should appreciate Rep. Frank for the courage of taking this proposition on and fighting for what he believes is just.

One of the drawbacks of the present marijuana prohibition policy is the use and cultivation of hemp. In the 1700s, early American farmers were often fined if they didn’t grow hemp on a portion of their farms. It was desperately needed for maritime and commercial use in making sails and rope. Also, it was used as a food source for humans and livestock.

Hemp, now used commercially is imported from Canada, Philippines, and other far east countries. With legalization, local farmers would be more free to grow this lucrative crop. Its use would also reduce our dependence of synthetic materials leaving a more natural bio degradable product. It is not hard to imagine New Bedford’s mills again busily making world-class ropes and fabrics.

Also, if marijuana was legalized federally, and the state of Massachusetts was to tax and regulate its sales, the funds raised could easily help stabilize the state’s economy. With the present laws, the black market is making billions of dollars in its sales. If it was legalized, the commonwealth would save millions of dollars on prosecution, incarceration and eradication. This would free up our courts and jails, and also leave more money for treatment to those with alcohol and harder drug dependencies.

It is a scientific fact that marijuana use is safer than alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, yet these are all legal. As a matter of fact, states and countries who have deregulated marijuana have all witnessed a significant drop in crime rates. I would imagine it’s sales would be sold in separate locations than alcohol package stores, perhaps in cafes and that consumers must be at least 21 years of age. Drivers would be subject to the same policies as those who consume alcohol.

Congressman Frank had said there are many now in Congress who are sympathetic to its legalization but are afraid to stand up to the laws because it may be used against them at election time. He urged legalization supporters to write letters to their elected officials.

If there was ever an opportunity to make a green change to stimulate our economy this is the one.

Charles A. Hauck
New Bedford

Source: LETTER: Barney Frank, Ron Paul pot legalization plan would be boon to Mass.
The Herald News (Fall River), September 26, 2011