Military-police state tactics implemented by the Bush administration and its allies after last year’s terrorist attacks are causing increasing problems for pot people traveling internationally and domestically.
US officials have announced new budget figures indicating that nearly $12 billion dollars will be spent on North American border security. Much of this money will go toward turning the US-Canadian border into a militarized zone, with thousands of Customs agents, National Guard troops, and other gun-toting tools attempting to seal the border.
The US Office of Homeland Security and cooperating agencies on both sides of the border promise increased patrols, inspections, strip searches, detentions, dogs, vehicle ruination, spy devices, and all-encompassing computerized databases.
Officials are talking tough, saying that the war on terrorism and illegal drugs are the same war, and that the use of deadly force, even in situations that turn out to be mere misunderstandings, cannot be ruled out.
In airports, draconian security measures are also in effect, with rude, ignorant government and private agents ransacking personal belongings and carry-on luggage. The use of body searches has increased; hundreds of women have filed complaints and lawsuits against airport security screeners across America, claiming that personnel are touching them sexually under the guise of security searches.
People who argue with security screeners are often subject to threats and other intimidation. In many cases, screeners threaten to call in machine-gun toting National Guard officers, who stand near security checkpoints, to settle search procedure disputes. Even airplane pilots and flight attendants are being harassed. A pilots’ union recently called screeners “arrogant and power-hungry.”
And once you’re on the plane, risk is still present. Sky marshals and narks are on board many planes, and passengers are being encouraged to nark on each other. Checked baggage is being hit with high intensity x-rays that destroy camera film. Some passengers report that US Customs, FAA inspectors and airline baggage crews are illegally opening checked luggage, even locked checked luggage, while the luggage is being transferred or stored in cargo holds.
Although some security enhancements are legitimate responses to terrorism, many people feel that such tactics are being used primarily to interdict drugs and drug users. President Bush recently bragged about a Coast Guard seizure of marijuana; he pledges to draw a net around America that tightly controls exit and entry of all people, via land, air, or water. Such measures are used to keep out people like the Canadian Olympic snowboarding gold medal winner, who was denied entry to the US because he had advocated marijuana law reform.
During travel situations, pot people can take precautions outlined at the end of this article. The USA’s rapid implementation of police state doctrine raises questions about whether Americans are so fearful of terrorism, and so afraid to protest the Bush administrations’ preposterous assertion that drug use equals terrorism, that they will allow their country to be taken over by a right-wing fascist dictatorship that seeks to lock down its borders in a way that reminds historians of what Hitler did to lock his country down in the late 1930’s.
In the meantime, here are some tips for the savvy cannatraveller:
– carry no items that could be misconstrued as weapons
– look and act professional and sane
– empty and clean all clothes, vehicles, suitcases and other travel items to remove drug residues, especially if you have visited Holland, Vancouver, or Jamaica
– if you have the guts to travel with contraband, make sure it doesn’t look or smell like contraband
– carry a tape recorder and have it recording if security personnel or Customs officials begin to harass you
– try to get the names of any official who harasses you
– contact your Congressperson or other political representative, and ask them to help you can find out if there is any negative information about you in any crime database that can be accessed by Customs officials. Make formal information requests to find out if the spy agencies have a file on you, and what it says
– keep all luggage away from drug dogs if possible, but do not do so in a manner that attracts attention
– use Ozium and other odor-limiting methods
– if you are confronted by a civilian security screener, be polite. If you are confronted by a Customs official or other government employee, say nothing
– Do not consent to searches or make statements if you are detained by government thugs. Request an attorney and be silent until one arrives. NEVER trust the police or other government officials.
– Order Emery seeds and learn to grow your own pot. Domestic marijuana production is the best way to fight terrorism, and to fight the war on terrorism which is actually another front for the war on drugs.
– Vote against all politicians who support drug war policies. Remember that most of the anti-terrorism tactics and legislation is a cover for the theft of your civil liberties and privacy rights.
– File complaints against any security agent or government tool who abuses you.
– Don’t be afraid. Be clever and courageous.