The United States House of Representatives is now considering legislation to decriminalize possession and non-profit transfers of marijuana under federal law.


If passed, while not affecting state laws regarding marijuana, this would be important progress toward marijuana’s eventual legalization in the United States.


Federal decriminalization would acknowledge that the current policy of prohibition is unworkable and unsustainable, and would indicate to state governments throughout the nation that new policies must be developed.


It’s time to 420 your friends to encourage them to contact Congress and indicate their enthusiastic support for this legislation, technically referred to as H.R. 5843.


What do we mean by “420 your friends?”  It’s simple, and yet it’s the most revolutionary act you can take to advance the cause of legalization. Contact four of your friends, persuade them to contact Congress and indicate their support for H.R. 5843, and then have each of them contact four of their friends and get them to do the same. Reach out to four friends, and 20 friends contact Congress. (Do the math, you contact four people, each of them contacts four people, that’s five people contacting four people each… 20 in all.)  420 your friends, and you set off a chain reaction. Master this simple process, and use it when necessary to advance marijuana’s legalization.


This legislation is important. The title of H.R. 5843 is “To eliminate most Federal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use, and for other purposes.” It was introduced by Congressman Barney Frank from the 4th District of Massachusetts. The co-sponsors are Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI-2), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Rep. William Lacy Clay (MO-1), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-9), Rep. Jim McDermott (WA-7), and Rep. Ron Paul (TX-14).


Here is the text of the bill: 


“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no penalty may be imposed under an Act of Congress for the possession of marijuana for personal use, or for the not-for-profit transfer between adults of marijuana for personal use. For the purposes of this section, possession of 100 grams or less of marijuana shall be presumed to be for personal use, as shall the not-for-profit transfer of one ounce or less of marijuana, except that the civil penalty provided in section 405 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 844a) may be imposed for the public use of marijuana if the amount of the penalty does not exceed $100.”


You can identify and contact your congressional representative by going to the website for the House of Representatives. Enter your zip code in the search engine in the upper left corner of the home page to locate your congressional representative. Send them a simple message: “I want you to support H.R. 5843 to decriminalize marijuana possession under federal law.” It’s as simple as that. You can send them a more detailed message if you’d like, such as explaining why you believe this is good policy for our country, and why you support marijuana law reform. You can ask your representative to explain where they stand on this issue and why. But whether your Congressional Representative supports or opposes this bill, it is important for them to hear from you and know that you want them to support H.R. 5843.


Use the Thomas website of the Library of Congress to monitor the progress of H.R. 5843.  The bill has currently been referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.


The best way to get the subcommittee to take action on the bill is to let members of Congress know that there is public support for this action. That is why you need to 420 your friends and encourage them to express their support to the Congress about this important legislation. And, while you’re at it, let your friends know about The HIGH TIMES 420 Campaign, where they can locate important background on national efforts to legalize marijuana and updates on important developments such as H.R. 5843.


National reform organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, and NORML are working hard to provide support and publicity for H.R. 5843. Each of their websites has more information about this important piece of legislation and their efforts to promote it. These groups also provide additional options and assistance for you to contact your representative. The 420 Campaign also provides a primer on contacting Congress.


Contact your congressional representative. It’s easy, and once you’ve done it yourself you can let your friends know how easy it actually is. 420 your friends now. Tell them about H.R. 5843. Send them the link for this column, or send them a copy. Encourage them to contact their congressional representative, and then get them to contact four of their friends and get them to do the same. 420 your friends. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s revolutionary. 420 your friends and advance the cause of marijuana’s legalization in the United States.