This fall the voters in the 6th District will have an opportunity rarely afforded to them — a chance to directly inform their representatives of an opinion via a public policy question on the ballot.

The question is: “Should the state senator or representative be instructed to vote for a resolution requesting Congress repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana, as the 21st Amendment repealed national prohibition of alcohol, so that states may regulate it as they choose?”

The question is a reference to HR 2306, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 introduced in congress by Ron Paul and Barney Frank. Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano signed on as a co-sponsor last September, and the bill has significant bipartisan support.

I welcome this chance for the people to make their voices heard. The war on drugs has become a defacto war on minorities in America. The disparities are particularly tragic in individual states where black men are sent to federal prison on drug charges at a rate 57 times greater than white men, according to Human Rights Watch. The drug laws are being enforced in a very biased manner.

Yet ending the prohibition on marijuana is not likely to change the amount of marijuana smoked in the United States. As Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson often points out to concerned parents, “It will never be legal for a person to smoke marijuana, become impaired and get behind the wheel of a car or otherwise do harm to others, and it will never be legal for kids to smoke marijuana.” But we have to understand that marijuana is our nation’s #1 cash crop despite the prohibition; it will always be available to those who really wish to use it.

I feel like it’s important for the candidates running for U.S. Congress to establish a position on this so that the constituents will be able to judge. I stand clearly with Ron Paul and Barney Frank in calling for the repeal of this prohibition. According to the Tax Policy Center, Massachusetts collected $587 million in 2009 in taxes on tobacco. Should the state decide to legalize marijuana, there is a new source of revenue for the state. Most importantly I feel that here in Massachusetts we can make a decision about marijuana without federal interference.

Some politicians want to make moral decisions for the people, but for me smaller government means trusting the people to lead their own lives.
— Daniel Fishman, Colgate Road, 6th District congressional candidate

Read more: Letter: Public policy question on marijuana a rare opportunity – Beverly, MA – Beverly Citizen