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Free Speech on Entheogens
By Richard Glen Boire, Esq.
If you bristle at the thought of government censorship especially when
related to the so-called War on Drugs, there is a bill in the Senate right now that you
need to know about and actively oppose. Buried in the crannies of a get-tough-on
methamphetamine bill, are several provisions that seek to stifle free speech related to all
controlled substances, not just methamphetamine.
A section of the
Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999, would make it a federal crime, punishable
by up to ten years in a federal prison, to teach, demonstrate, or disseminate information,
on how to manufacture a controlled substance, with the intent that the information be used
to commit a federal crime.
If this bill passes, any book, magazine, web
site, seminar, or even a quiet fireside talk between intimate friends, which shares
information that might facilitate someone's manufacture or cultivation of a scheduled
entheogen, including marijuana, would become criminal. A writer for a print or on-line
publication who explains a new method for cultivating psilocybin mushrooms, would commit
a federal crime. An author of an article containing information on how to grow Cannabis,
even for medical use, would be subject to arrest.
Pursuant to another odious section of the same
bill, any person who uses a telephone, the federal mails, or a web site "to post,
publicize, transmit, publish, link to, broadcast, or otherwise advertise any matter
(including a telephone number or electronic or mail address) knowing that such matter has
the purpose of seeking or offering, or is designed to . . . facilitate a transaction
involving drug paraphernalia, would commit a felony.
Some studies have shown that vaporizers may be a
less dangerous way to inhale some drugs, including medical marijuana. If this bill passes,
it would become a federal crime (punishable by up to three years in a federal pen) for an
operator of a web site to hyperlink to a company selling water pipes and vaporizers
commonly used to smoke marijuana. An operator of an AIDS or cancer web site that provides
information on how some patients may find relief by smoking medical marijuana, and who
includes a link to a company selling a vaporizer, would be subject to arrest and
imprisonment for up to thirteen years -- ten years for providing information that might
facilitate a patient's medical use of marijuana (the federal government considers
marijuana a "controlled substance" even when used for medical purposes, and even
when used in a state such as California that permits medical marijuana use), plus three
more years for indirectly advertising drug paraphernalia! A reporter who
writes about the drug war and whose article appears online, could be arrested if the
report included a link to a harm reduction site that itself happens to link to a company
selling vaporizers or bongs.
Earlier this year, the federal government
launched a billion dollar anti-drug National Youth Anti-Drug Media [Scare]
Campaign splattering anti-drug messages in popular magazine and newspapers, on radio
stations, and during prime-time television shows. By some accounts, the costly effort has
done nothing to reduce drug use by teens or adults and may even have backfired. An
increasing number of kids consider the advertisements as ever more sensationalist
just say no propaganda.1 Many people have simply stopped listening
to the U.S. government when it talks about drugs. So, whats a jilted government to
do when its citizens reject its propaganda? It goes after the voices of dissent,
desperately trying to shut them up by threatening to arrest and imprison anyone who shares
accurate information contrary to the party line.
This bill was introduced by Senator Dianne
Feinstein of California and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, but more and more senators are
supporting it. On August 5, 1999, the bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, and on
November 19, the last day of the Senates session, the bill was merged with Senate
Bill 486, the DEFEAT Methamphetamine Act. The Senate is currently out of
session, but action is expected on this bill when the Senate reconvenes on January 24,
If you object to this political censorious
attempt to rid the world of any information that disagrees with Big Brothers agenda,
let your representatives know about it. Tell them you oppose their attempt to censor and
criminalize free speech. You can follow all the developments of SB 486 at the
CCLE's Web site: www.cognitiveliberty.org.
Dianne Feinstein can be reached at United States Senate, 331 Hart Senate Office Building,
Washington, D.C. 20510 (202) 224-3841, email@example.com.
Senator Orrin Hatch can be reached at Office of
Senator Orrin Hatch, 131 Russell Senate Office Building - Washington, DC 20510,
(202) 224-5251, firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 According to the most recent National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse (available on the Center for Cognitive
Liberty & Ethics web site), one in ten
teenagers uses Cannabis or other illegal drugsnearly double what it was in
1992. Not only is use up, despite the governments anti-drug propaganda, but the
propaganda campaign itself may in some cases actually contribute to increased alcohol
and other drug use by teenagers. An Indiana University study compared two groups of high
school seniors: students exposed to Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) classes since
5th grade, and those who had no exposure to DARE. The DARE graduates showed a higher
use-rate of alcohol, tobacco, hallucinogens, and narcotics than the non-DARE
students. (See, Wysong, et al. 1994. Truth and DARE: Tracking Drug Education
to Graduation and as Symbolic Politics, Social Problems, 41(3): 448-472.)
Richard Glen Boire, Esq.
is the executive director of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics.