City Desk

Bob Barr Lauds Demise of Barr Amendment

Last week, the House of Representatives at long last voted to kill the Barr Amendment—a rider banning D.C.'s implementation of a medical marijuana initiative passed in 1998. It was originally sponsored by Georgia congressman Bob Barr and has been attached to the annual District budget for a decade.

LL covered the possible arrival of medical marijuana here in his column a couple of weeks back (a column that was widely read for other reasons). LL had tried to get in touch with Barr, now a libertarian political activist and presidential candidate, for the story, but didn't connect with him in time.

But now, via a Libertarian Party press release, we have his feelings on the matter.

The House vote last week, Barr says in a statement, "represents an important step in the direction of individual freedom and properly limiting the power of the federal government."

Just so you don't get the wrong idea, Barr doesn't mention the essential propriety of smoking marijuana in his comments, for medical use or any other—just that the federal government has no business telling states and their citizens how to regulate it.

It's not time just yet to celebrate/consult your doctor—the measure still exists in the Senate version of the budget, and its fate is likely to be decided in conference committee.

Full statement follows:

Last week’s vote by the House of Representatives lifting the 11-year old prohibition on the District of Columbia from taking steps to pass and implement any measure decriminalizing or legalizing the sale or use of marijuana in the District, represents an important step in the direction of individual freedom and properly limiting the power of the federal government.

“While I in fact sponsored the initial appropriations limitation in 1998, the years since then have witnessed such a dramatic increase in federal government power and an unprecedented decrease in individual liberty, especially since 2001, that I have come to realize that such limitations as the so-called “Barr Amendment” are not and cannot be justified. It has become necessary to reevaluate the power of the federal government that I and others once were able or willing to justify, and do what we can to roll back the tide of government control.

“I have applauded also the indications by Attorney General Eric Holder to begin easing federal efforts against individuals in states that have moved to decriminalize or legalize the use of marijuana, and the fresh approach to the federal anti-drug effort as articulated earlier this year by Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drup Control Policy (the so-called “Drug Czar”).”

Photo by Joeff Davis—Creative Loafing

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