Lawmakers Propose to Legalize Marijuana

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," July 31, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JANE SKINNER, GUEST HOST: SKINNER: Here's question for you. Should people be able to smoke marijuana in the United States legally as long as they're doing it responsibly, kind of like with alcohol?

Well, there is a new push by lawmakers to legalize the illegal drug for users, not abusers. A new proposal has been announced in Congress to end federal penalties for anybody who's carrying fewer than 100 grams of pot - that's about three-and-a-half ounces or so.

Let's talk about it with one of the proposal supporters, Republican congressman from Texas, Ron Paul. You know him from the race for president. Congressman, good to see you.

As your colleague Barney Frank said the chances of this thing passing are not high - if you get the joke. What's the aim here if this thing isn't going to pass?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL (R-TX), SUPPORTER OF THE PROPOSAL TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA: Well, my aim is always to promote freedom and the constitution, and an issue like this is just - has no value to have the federal police going out and trying to find people who might be smoking. Before 1938, the Federal Government wasn't even involved so I would think that the states can handle things like this.

Video: Watch guest host Jane Skinner's interview with Congressman Ron Paul

And the whole notion that we regulate and prosecute people for things that some other people think is a vice - I just don't see any purpose on this. I thought we learned our lesson about what prohibition did in the early part of the last century. There's no value to it. It wastes a lot of money and causes a lot of trouble. And what do we do? We end up with laws like this that prohibit sick people from using marijuana where they can get benefit. We literally - the Federal Government overrides state laws and arrests people who are sick and getting some benefit from marijuana and they're dying with cancer or AIDS. It makes no sense at all.

SKINNER: Congressman Paul, real quickly though - where does it end? So we legalize about three-and-a-half ounces of pot and then we say, "You know, if you've got to touch of crack cocaine, that's OK, too."

PAUL: Well, that isn't the purpose of this piece of legislation, but you know, for 130 years, that's exactly what happened. When I was a kid in high school selling in a drugstore, I sold cough medicine with codeine in it and nobody recorded anything and I never saw one kid in the whole community ever abuse it.

So this whole idea that you have to have the Federal Government make people do the right thing is total nonsense. Yes, it's dangerous. It's risky, but so is alcohol, and so is smoking cigarettes. It's who should do the policing, and who should make these choices. And I say it should not be the Federal Government. It should be the parents and the individuals. And as long as they're not hurting other people, we should allow state regulations to take care of these problems.

SKINNER: Let's talk about the other side of it with somebody formerly in law enforcement. Thank you to Congressman Paul.

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