On November 19, the US Senate unanimously passed a vicious bill which proposes to ban Cannabis Culture, and any other publication, website or even verbal communication which explains 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.
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, pamphlets explaining the safer use of drugs, and brochures promoting needle sterilization and exchange.
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 substance. This clause is ostensibly aimed at supposedly toxic methamphetamine labs, yet it could also be applied to outdoor cannabis growers modifying terrain to suit their illegal garden.
The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate (S.486) in November, and its identical “companion bill” was already before the House of Representatives (HR.2987). In September the House bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Commerce. In November, the bill was referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and the Commerce Subcommittee on Health and Environment.
These subcommittees will begin looking at the bill in early 2000. 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 oppose or 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 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 booksellers like Amazon 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.”
Getting Uncle Fester
The December issue of George magazine revealed another reason some senators might want to pass this bill. They ran a long article about Uncle Fester,the author of Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture (SMM), which George describes as “the most insidious drug book ever written.”
Apparently, his newest edition reveals how to make methamphetamine from Sudafed.
During their debate on this bill, Senators complained about the toxic and dangerous aspects of home methamphetamine production. Yet the George article unwittingly reveals the harm caused by this censorship. “With SMM, Fester did away with many of the noxious and volatile chemicals usually associated with meth production, practically eliminating the element of danger,” they write, adding “before SMM, meth labs tended to spontaneously combust.”
So the books and recipes which Congress wants to ban actually teach how to produce methamphetamine in a less dangerous and non-toxic way. Congress doesn’t need cops and DEA agents to do meth-lab cleanup, they just need to ensure that all producers follow safe and non-toxic techniques.
?Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture is currently available from Amazon Books and Barnes and Noble online, and other reputable booksellers. Get your copy now while you still can!
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 is now rarely enforced and has been successfully challenged in court. Yet it still remains on the books, and could be revived and used against the internet or print materials.
Presenting cannabis or other drugs “in a favourable light” is punishable in France with 1-5 years in jail and a fine up to the equivalent of about $100,000 US).
All pro-pot books and magazines in England have prominent disclaimers that they are “for
information purposes only” and do not advocate or encourage illegal acts. These disclaimers are the thin line before total censorship.
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 details on this bill and its other nasty surprises, read CC#22, or go to: www.cannabisculture.com/library/hparchive/CongressPlansPot-InfoBan.html
? For detailed legislative information and updates about this bill, go to: thomas.loc.gov and do a search for S.486 and HR.2987.
? At Cannabis Culture we urge you to help fight this censorship bill. Please write a letter to your local and regional media, explaining why this is a harmful piece of legislation. Also contact the members of the House Committees to voice your opinion.