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New Article On Web Drug Info Ban By Dana Larsen



Subject: US Senate passes pot-info ban
Date: Sat, 08 Jan 2000 09:29:48 -0800
Organization: Cannabis Culture (http://www.cannabisculture.com/)


US SENATE PASSES POT-INFO BAN

Harsh censorship bill unanimously backed by Senate, and now before House
subcommittees.

By Dana Larsen

On November 19, the US Senate unanimously passed a vicious bill which
proposes to ban Cannabis Culture, and any other publication or website
which discusses the manufacture or use of any controlled substance.

The bill is called the "Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act 1999", but
it's actually aimed at anyone that speaks out in favour of marijuana
legalization, harm reduction, or an end to the drug war. The penalty for
violating this info-ban is up to 10 years imprisonment, and a hefty fine.

LEGISLATIVE LUNACY

The section which would ban pro-pot publications is as follows:

* * *

It shall be unlawful for any person--

(A) to teach or demonstrate the manufacture of a controlled substance, or
to distribute by any means information pertaining to, in whole or in part,
the manufacture or use of a controlled substance, with the intent that the
teaching, demonstration, or information be used for, or in furtherance of,
an activity that constitutes a Federal crime;

(b) PENALTY- Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under
this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

* * *

This section was described by Senators as being aimed solely at "the
dissemination of methamphetamine recipes on the Internet." Yet the clause
is so broadly worded that it could easily apply to a doctor recommending
marijuana to a patient, as well as banning grow books, pamphlets explaining
the safer use of drugs, brochures promoting needle sterilization and
exchange, and even website links to other sites which do any of these
things.

PARAPHERNALIA AD BAN

Senator Joseph Biden explained the bill's other censorship aspects. "The
bill also tightens the restrictions on direct and indirect advertising of
illegal drug paraphernalia and Schedule I drugs. Under this legislation, it
would be illegal for on-line magazines and other websites to post
advertisements for such illegal material or provide `links' to websites
that do."

The federal Crime Control Act of 1990 makes it a crime to "sell or offer
for sale drug paraphernalia." This law is why US bongmakers all describe
their products as for "tobacco use only." This new bill expands that law,
and other federal anti-drug legislation.

The law bans paraphernalia merchants from using "any communication facility
to initiate the posting, publicizing, transmitting, publishing, linking to,
broadcasting, or other advertising of any matter."

Do you think all this censorship is obviously an unconstitutional violation
of free speech? Biden doesn't, explaining: "We crafted this language
carefully so that we restrict the sale of drug paraphernalia without
restricting the First Amendment."

HARM TO THE ENVIRONMENT

The bill also adds a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence for causing "risk
of harm to the environment" while producing any banned susbtance. This
clause is also supposedly aimed at supposedly toxic methamphetamine labs,
yet it could also be applied to outdoor cannabis growers modifying terrain
to suit their illegal garden.

SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS

The bill was passed unanimously by the US Senate (S.486), and its identical
"companion bill" (HR.2987) is already before the House of Representatives.
In November the bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime and
also the Subcommittee on Health and Environment.

These committees will begin looking at the bill sometime in January. If it
is eventually passed by the House of Representatives then it would almost
certainly become law, as there is no indication that President Clinton
would try to veto the bill.

REPERCUSSIONS AND DANGERS

This legislation could be used to selectively target any magazines, books
or publishing companies deemed too subversive for the feds. Print
publications and books would be very vulnerable. Major magazine
distributors would likely cave in to any pressure from the authorities,
leaving magazines like Cannabis Culture and High Times with no way of
reaching US newsstands.

Even the supposedly censorship-proof internet could be vulnerable. While
it's difficult to stop independent websites based outside of the US, major
online retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble could be coerced into
dropping the hundreds of grow books and drug-related titles they now carry.

At Cannabis Culture we feel that the censorship aspects of this legislation
are aimed largely at us and our aggressive combination of pro-pot
journalism and mail-order seed ads. The Senate bill was introduced one
month after US Drug Czar General McCaffrey specifically quoted the Cannabis
Culture website in a speech before Congress, and complained that he was
"getting rolled in the public arena."

SENATE SPEECHES

The restrictive bill was co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch and Dianne
Feinstein.  Here's some excerpts from Hatch's speech made while introducing
this repressive legislation:

"I was shocked to discover that those who embrace the drug counter-culture
these days are using the internet to promote, advertise, and sell illegal
drugs and drug paraphernalia.

"In 1992, Congress passed a law that made it illegal for anyone to sell or
offer for sale drug paraphernalia. This law resulted in the closings of
numerous 'head shops,' yet, now the out-of-business store owners are
selling their illegal drug paraphernalia on the internet

"This bill will not only prevent web sites from advertising drug
paraphernalia for sale, but it will also prohibit web sites that do not
sell drug paraphernalia from allowing other sites that do from advertising
on its web site

"There are even web sites that advertise for sale marijuana and poppy
seeds, along with growing and nurturing instructions. This type of behavior
is not only reprehensible, but it is also illegal, and this
clarifying provision can help stop this behavior from continuing over the
internet."

OTHER POT CENSORSHIP

CANADA - In Canada, all "instruments and literature for illicit drug use"
was banned in 1988, their import or sale punishable with a $100,000 fine
and six months in jail. Hundreds of shops across Canada were shut down by
police threats and raids and pot magazines and growbooks were unavailable.
The law remains on the books, although now only sporadically enforced.

ILLINOIS - Within the next few months the Illinois state legislature will
debate Bill 792, which bans sharing "information about cannabis by the
Internet," if it can be used for an illegal activity.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

* For more details on this bill and its other nasty surprises, read
Cannabis Culture #22, or go to:
http://www.cannabisculture.com/library/hparchive/CongressPlansPot-InfoBan.html

* To read about Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey quoting the Cannabis
Culture website in his speech to Congress, go to:
http://www.cannabisculture.com/library/hparchive/USCongresshearslegalizertes
timo
ny.html

* For detailed legislative information about this bill, go to:
http://thomas.loc.gov and do a search for S.486 and HR.2987.

* For the Senate bill summary and status info:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:SN00486:

* For the Senate testimony from when the bill was passed, click on item 6
at this page:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r106:FLD001:S14932

* The complete text of the House bill can be found at:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c106:H.R.2987:

* For the most recent House of Representatives bill summary and status info:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HR02987:

* To read the current US anti-paraphernalia law which this bill expands:
http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/21/863.html

* For the House of Representatives subcommittee on Health and the Environment:
http://www.house.gov/commerce/health.html

* For the House of Representatives subcommittee on Crime:
http://www.house.gov/judiciary/sub106.htm

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