Author of 1972 marijuana bill to CCC: “I told you so”

Boston Statehouse

Barney Frank, former congressman (AP)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Former Congressman Barney Frank shuffled to the table in front of four members of the Cannabis Control Commission with the assistance of a cane Wednesday morning and unfolded a piece of paper he wanted to rub in the commission’s face.

“You can see I am getting old, but there is one thing that I have found improves with age and that is the pleasure of being able to say, ‘I told you so,'” Frank told the commission at a public hearing on proposed industry regulations. “And it does not require pills before, during or after you do it.”

The former congressman, now 79, showed the CCC and crowd a bill he filed soon after being first elected to serve in the Massachusetts House in 1972 that would have done away with any state restrictions on adults purchasing or using marijuana. Frank, who now works with the local cannabis advocacy group Beantown Greentown, testified Wednesday to “say I told you so” and remark on the progress of legalization since 1972.

“It’s clear that progress is being made” at the federal level, Frank said. He said legislation removing restrictions on financial institutions from doing business with cannabis companies “has a very good chance to become law soon” because the amount of cash used in the industry creates public safety concerns.

As the CCC considers public input on their new draft regulations for the medical marijuana world as well as the adult-use or recreational industry, Frank said this is an important moment for the legalization movement and the country.

“We talk a lot about the divisions, the anger, generational problems. I think an appropriate set of regulations that make it possible for adults responsibly to use marijuana for any purpose they choose, that that will go an important way towards healing one of the major divisions we have,” Frank, who retired from Congress in 2013, said. “The fundamental inconsistency between the way marijuana is regulated and the way alcohol is regulated and cigarettes is one of the causes, I think, of the anger and distrust for the political system, so we have a chance here to kind of reconcile people in our society.”

As long as cannabis laws and regulations are protective of public health, Frank said, the government has a chance to protect young people from the potential harms of marijuana “more than we have done with cigarettes or alcohol” without restricting the ability of adults to use the drug.

Frank concluded his remarks by handing CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman a copy of the bill he said he filed in December 1972, titled, “An Act to Decontrol Marijuana.” The crowd, filled mostly with marijuana industry representatives and advocates, cheered enthusiastically.

“I will allow applause this one time,” Hoffman said as Frank returned to his seat. “I feel sorry for the next speaker.”

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