WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has not tried heroin. But he thinks it should be legal, along with a host of other drugs.
The Massachusetts Democrat is writing a book that will make the case for why the government is and can be a force of good, he told The Huffington Post in an interview. Part of Frank's case rests on the idea that if Congress could pay for more, important social services it provides would be regarded more favorably by the public.
So where does Washington find the cash? Frank offered two suggestions: "a very substantial reduction in military" and "the end of treating drugs as criminal."
Frank has made this case before, arguing at various points that marijuana should be legalized. Frank told HuffPost that he isn't a pot smoker, despite his support for the drug's legalization. "I can't inhale," Frank said. "I have a bad sinus condition." But his husband does smoke, and Frank himself has tried "pot cookies" which didn't "have a huge effect on me," he said.
What wasn't clear was if Frank's openness to drug legalization ended with weed. It doesn't.
His general philosophy, he said, is that "if it affects me," then it is "none of your business." But, if a drug "affects the way I deal with other people," then there is an honest reason for prohibition. Heroin, he added, falls under the former category.
"The question is are there drugs that have a very good likelihood of making me misbehave towards others? I do not believe heroin is in that category," said Frank. "What makes people misbehave is the need to steal money to buy heroin. First of all, with cocaine, let's just cut through the bullsh*t. There are a lot of very high-functioning people in this society on cocaine. Cocaine is the rich people's drug. That is just silly."
Frank explained that he doesn't believe people "should be locked up for putting anything voluntarily in his or her own mouth," unless the drugs that they were taking made them "misbehave badly."
That distinction did not extend to "cocaine and heroin," he said, adding that he didn't believe either made people "crazy."
"Heroin, again, I think the major source of the problem is the way people have to steal to get it. Now, there are some drugs, PCP and other things, that have an instant lethal effect, and even there I wouldn't negatively want people to take it if it is a terrible health thing. You do want to restrict its manufacture."
When he served in Congress, Frank and former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) were often the most outspoken voices in favor of drug legalization. Frank filed legislation to legalize marijuana in 1972. Paul went so far as to push for legalizing heroin, arguing that broader acceptance of the drug would decrease the amount of it that is used.
Frank explained his general philosophy as voting for those laws that only he himself would obey. It's why he voted to raise the speeding limit. "I speed," he said.
So has he or would he try heroin, The Huffington Post want to know.
"Never been tempted," said Frank. "I like to be in control. I don’t drink very much either. I almost never drink hard liquor. I have maybe a glass of wine every two or three days."