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Come On In, The Water's Fine

Earlier this year, William Lacy Clay, the Democratic congressman from St. Louis, accidentally signed on as a co-sponsor of Barney Frank's bill to decriminalize marijuana (Clay thought it concerned only medicinal marijuana, but in fact it's broader than that). But, via Mike Soraghan at The Hill, Clay wasn't expecting the reception he got:

Supporting the liberalization of marijuana laws is not often seen as a political winner, especially in Midwestern cities like St. Louis.

But instead of stoner jokes, derision and righteous indignation, Clay was surprised to start getting praise from complete strangers.

“People are coming up to me saying this is a common-sense, sensible way to deal with the issue of personal use,” Clay said.

So far, he said, his calls, mail and contacts are running 80-20 in favor of the bill.

Granted, there aren't very many small-time pot users in federal prisons, but with the system currently running at a startling 37 percent over capacity, this hardly seems like something that federal criminal law needs to be dealing with. So far, though, there are only seven cosponsors (including Berkeley's Barbara Lee, Madison's Tammy Baldwin, Portland's Earl Blumenauer, and, of course, Ron Paul), so it's an uphill battle. Or, as Frank puts it:

When asked about the prospects of passage last week, Frank didn’t miss a beat in showcasing his sense of humor: “I would say the chances are not high.”

--Josh Patashnik