Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000
Subject: Senator Hatch On C-Span Saturday AM Please Email Or Call In!
PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE
Presidential candidate Senator Orrin Hatch will be taking calls on
C-Span’s Saturday Journal From 9-10 AM Eastern Time this Saturday AM.
Hatch is the co-author of The Hatch/Feinstein Methamphetamine
Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999 which could easily destroy all forms of
Internet activism on drug policy on the Internet if implemented. Below
is a wealth of information on the bill and its background. It has
already UNANIMOUSLY passed the senate. Hatch is also one of the most
ardent drug war hawks in the Senate.
The bill reads 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.”
This is a mind boggling concept in the land of the free. To me this
sort of censorship sounds eerily like the plots in the classic books
“Fahrenheit 451” in which book burning was mandated by the government
or “1984” in which the government censored talk and even thought
heavily and eliminated individual rights “for our own good.”
Please call in, email or fax C-span to challenge Hatch on this
egregious attack on the first amendment.
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Smashing Meth or Trashing Rights?
Consider these statements:
A: “If you must smoke marijuana, filter the smoke with a water pipe
and don’t even think of driving afterwards.” B: “If you ever do shoot
up heroin, don’t use dirty needles. Clean them with bleach or find a
syringe exchange program.”
I think these statements are good advice. But if U.S. Senators Orrin
Hatch and Dianne Feinstein have their way, it will soon be a felony to
publish these statements in any book, newspaper, magazine, web site,
or even to utter them or link to a web site containing them. The
Hatch/Feinstein Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999 makes
these statements illegal because they “pertain” to an act that
violates federal controlled-substance laws.
Here’s the censorship language of the Hatch/Feinstein bill (S.486):
“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.”
My opening statements “teach” people how to “use” criminalized drugs
in a way that reduces potential harmfulness. They are nonetheless
information that, if heeded at all, would be used “for … an activity
that constitutes a Federal crime,” namely the use of marijuana or
heroin. (Don’t believe for a minute that the “intent” aspect
clarifies anything: the “intent” of suspects in federal crimes is
exactly what the prosecutor says it is. Period.)
The penalty for my heinous utterances: 10 years in federal
You’re probably thinking “Surely they didn’t mean that. This is a
clamp-down on methamphetamine, isn’t it?” But a law is a very literal
beast. The implications of S.486 are as broad as its language is
vague. It clearly violates the face-value meaning of the First
Amendment — guaranteed free speech.
Anyone who thinks the feds would use common sense and restraint when
enforcing this law hasn’t been watching the Drug War for the past 20
years. These are the same drug warriors who just paid $1 million in an
out-of-court settlement with the family of Donald Scott, who was shot
to death in a “dry” (no drugs found) raid on Scott’s California ranch
in 1992. Purportedly, the feds, fearing the publicity about corrupt
drug cops in LA’s Rampart precinct, thought jurors might be persuaded
that enforcers really were trying to grab Scott’s property under
federal drug forfeiture laws, as the suit had alleged. On another
front, drug-warring federal prosecutors are notorious for using
mandatory sentencing laws to jail the lowest-level participants in
drug cases for the longest possible terms, based on heresay evidence
and wide-reaching conspiracy laws (see the PBS documentary “Snitch”).
A study of drug case law reveals that people can be jailed on drug
crimes through a head spinning array of legal technicalities (often
convoluted, illogical, and unfair). Prosecutors essentially have the
power of accuser, judge, and jury, all rolled into one, and can
effectively jail whomsoever they please. Many use their power to seek
high political offices.
Would S.486 be used benignly? Tell me another.
In states that have passed compassionate-use referendums, S. 486 would
facilitate federal prosecution of doctors who tell patients about
medical marijuana. These are among the more obvious applications of
this bill. The larger implication concerns citizens who are now
legally protesting the Drug War or conducting now-legal programs that
are at odds with abstinence-enforcement ideology.
Given the vague and inclusive interpretation of federal conspiracy
laws, almost any information about criminalized drugs and any dissent
against existing drug laws could be construed by federal enforcers as
furthering federal drug crimes. In Congressional hearings last
summer, drug czar Barry McCaffrey specifically accused two national
drug reform organizations, MAP (the Media Awareness Project) and the
Drug Policy Foundation (DPF), of distributing information to support
the manufacture of criminalized drugs. Of course, McCaffrey was lying
Check it out at the Media Awareness Project (MAP) http://www.mapinc.org
and The Drug Policy Foundation http://www.dpf.org
MAP posts worldwide news related to criminalized drugs, drug policy,
etc. Both groups organize activism to end the War on Drugs policy.
Neither of them advocate drug use or offer instructions about drug
manufacture. However, in the light of the 33,000 press articles
clipped by MAP, the government’s Drug War does not look good. And
activists are running scared about S.486.
Based on McCaffrey’s statements of last summer, MAP and other drug
policy leaders fear that enforcers, armed with the Hatch/Feinstein
bill, would shut down their web sites, effectively silencing dissent
against the Drug War and squelching public debate about drug policy.
They fear selective enforcement of S.486 such that any anti-Drug-War
web site could be shut down directly or indirectly because Internet
service providers, fearing prosecution, would refuse to host such sites.
In remarks about the bill, Sen. Feinstein emphasized her intent to
censor communications about drugs on the Internet. Whether Hatch and
Feinstein know it or not, S.486 neatly fulfills the wishes of UN drug
czar Pino Arlacchi, whose global drug-war organization recommended, in
a 1997 publication, that governments should curtail civil liberties in
their pursuit of strict drug-abstinence enforcement.
Other implications: books about criminalized drugs could be withdrawn
from Barnes-and-Noble’s shelves; certain magazines would be shut down
(no more High Times). Information about industrial hemp cultivation
would be outlawed. Drug treatment and intervention programs that
deviate from strict abstinence doctrine or help non-abstainers
(concerning harm reduction, needle exchange, methadone maintenance, or
medical marijuana) could be prosecuted – because their communications,
like my opening statements, pertain to activities that are federal
S.486 seems to be a bald-faced violation of the First Amendment. But
the opinion of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who never saw a
draconian drug law he didn’t like, is harder to predict.
This is an extremely dangerous law, not only for drug policy and
reform, but concerning freedom of speech generally in the United
States. If dissent about this issue can be silenced, all dissent can
If S.486 becomes law, American speech rights become subject to the
whim of the badge-bearing guys who smash down doors carrying
submachine guns and yelling “Freeze!” like they did to Donald Scott.
No matter what you think of drugs, if you love freedom, you should
hate this bill.
The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc. is a Project of DrugSense a
501(c)3 non profit educational organization dedicated to accurate
information and reporting on drug and drug policy related matters.
Drug War Facts http://www.csdp.org/factbook/
Searchable archive of more than 30,000 articles on drug policy matters
The Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc. Home page http://www.mapinc.org
DrugSense Home Page http://www.drugsense.org
Free Weekly Email newsletter on important drug policy developments
The individuals below may be contacted for further information
regarding this release.
Executive Director DrugSense (MAP Inc.)
PO Box 651 Porterville, CA 93258
(800) 266 5759
Tom O’Connell M.D.
195 Warren Rd.
San Mateo CA 94401
650 348 6841
Common Sense For Drug Policy
3619 Tall Wood Terrace
Falls Church VA 22041
(703) 354 5694 703-354-5695 (fax)