A bill has been introduced into the US Congress which would ban Cannabis Culture, High Times, and all books and websites which explain how to grow cannabis. The bill would ban any exchange of information about the “manufacture or use of a controlled substance”. This would include information about the safe, responsible use of banned substances, promotion of harm reduction techniques like needle exchange, and even doctor’s advice to medicinal marijuana patients.
The bill is called the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, but its real target is any information which dissents from the war on drugs mentality.
The bill is backed by a coalition of a dozen senators, led by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, a supporter of internet regulation, and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, the arch-conservative who chairs the Senate Judiciary committee.
Although this bill has a ways to go before becoming law, and although it’s unconstitutional, if it passes the repercussions to the marijuana information industry would be immediate and severe. How many magazine distributors and printers would be willing to challenge the US government on behalf of their pro-cannabis clients? Likely very few, which could leave magazines like Cannabis Culture fighting for survival without any means of producing or distributing their products.
The part of the bill most worrisome to pro-pot magazines and websites is as follows:
(2) PROHIBITION- 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; or
(B) to teach or demonstrate to any person the manufacture of a controlled substance, or to distribute to any person, by any means, information pertaining to, in whole or in part, the manufacture or use of a controlled substance, knowing that such person intends to use the teaching, demonstration, or information 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.’
Here’s some of Senator Hatch’s comments while introducing the bill:
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 amend the anti-drug paraphernalia statute to clarify that advertisements for sale include the use of any communication facility, including the Internet, to post or publicize in any way any matter, including a telephone number or electronic or mail address, knowing that such matter is designed to be used to buy, distribute, or otherwise facilitate a transaction in drug paraphernalia.
This 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. Currently, anyone can log on to the Internet, go to one of the numerous pro-drug sites, and purchase illegal drug paraphernalia, such bongs, water pipes, `Toke’ bottles and `High Again’ bottles, along with descriptions of how these devices can assist in getting a better `high’ from smoking marijuana.
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.
For an article in Wired Online about this bill, go here
To read out about Senator Finestien’s unsuccessful 1998 attempt to ban internet sales of pipes, go here
To read the federal law which currently bans drug paraphernalia, go here
For more information on the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act, go here
For the bill summary & status, go here