Speed Limit 

Speed Limit 
Posted by FoM on April 26, 2000 at 18:55:34 PT
By Matthew B. Stannard
Source: MoJoWire
A bill banning Internet sites that publish or even link to drug-making information looks set to sail through Congress -- to the dismay of free-speech advocates. Make-your-own drug recipes are easy to find online -- but could soon be banned. Watch it. The article you're reading could soon be illegal.Why? Because of this link. it, and up pops a site advertising bongs, pipes, and other pot paraphenalia. The site is Canadian -- advertising drug paraphernalia is illegal in the United States. But if a bill passed by the United States Senate last year becomes law, it would also be illegal to link to that page with the "intent to facilitate or promote" its business.Depending on a federal prosecutor's interpretation of "intent," that could make posting this article a federal crime.It's one of the more disturbing effects of the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999. The bill, by Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., is aimed at stopping the spread of crank. But it also has publishers, civil libertarians, and drug reformers arming for battle over free-speech rights."There's just no question there's a First Amendment issue," said Richard Boire, a California attorney and director of the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics. "You're essentially getting into mind-policing."Related Coverage: Drug Mistreatment Drugs: Kill Addicts! Under the Influence the title implies, the bill was designed to fight the spread of methamphetamine -- a goal so popular that liberal Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., joined with her conservative sometimes-rival, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in writing one of the legislation's crucial sections.Now awaiting action on a similar version in the House, the bill stiffens penalties for meth makers and includes money for busting labs and treating crank addicts. But it also tackles one of the knottier roots of the crank problem: recipies for do-it-yourself methamphetamine posted to the World Wide Web.Such recipes are all over the Internet; some explain how to extract ephedrine from cold medicine, while others describe how to set up a basic lab. Still others exist as electronic protestors against the Ashcroft bill itself. Law enforcement officials blame the online recipies for a rise in crank labs. Drug Enforcement Administration officials busted 1,627 labs in 1998, a number that has doubled over the past decade. News Wires: DC Cops, Protesters Make Nice Domino's Effect Real Reason for US Aid to Colombia Short: In California, officials see even more action: They shut down over 2,000 labs in 1999 alone. In fact, so much meth is brewed in California that the state exports the drug to the rest of the nation. As many as one-third of all labs busted by state officials come complete with a cookbook printed off the Web."Part of the reason manufacture of meth has exploded in this country is the Internet," said Ron Gravitt, clandestine lab coordinator for the state's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. "People that did not have the formulas now have them."The proposed law aims to combat the problem in two ways. One attacks crank kits and users' tools, expanding the current ban on advertising drugs or drug paraphenalia to include "indirect" advertising, such as linking to sites that have such ads. Officials of Internet service providers who fail to yank violating sites within 48 hours of being warned by authorities could face up to three years in prison if the bill becomes law.The bill's other prong -- authored by Feinstein and Hatch -- is even simpler. It bans distributing, by any means, information on manufacturing any controlled substance -- if you intend or know that the person receiving the information intends to use the information to break federal law.Critics call that censorship, a term Feinstein's people hotly reject."If you have people out there that are teaching people to do it with the intent that a crime be committed, (Feinstein) doesn't think that should be protected," said David Hantman, Feinstein's chief counsel. "You can't shout fire in a crowded theater, and you shouldn't be able to teach somebody how to commit a federal crime, either." The language banning the distribution of information intended to help someone break federal law was copied from an earlier Feinstein bill targeting Internet bomb-making instructions. That language was ruled constitutional by the Department of Justice, although a test case has yet to hit the courts. As a result, many critics of the new bill say they are certain it will become law.But the meth bill goes a step further than the bomb-making law, barring people from distributing drug manufacturing information if they know somebody else intends to use it to break federal law, even if the provider doesn't intend for them to do so. That's a lot trickier, said Marvin Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union -- and it might not work."There's a very good First Amendment action arising out of that," Johnson said. "If I publish a book that says 'this is how you make methamphetamine,' I know that somebody is going to use that. That doesn't mean that I have the intention that you use it, but I'm putting the information out there. Am I now liable simply because I put the information out there?" That question has drug reformers, civil libertarians, and publishers -- online and off -- frantically networking and packing war chests to stop the meth act or, failing that, to challenge it in court.Much of that effort, ironically, is taking place via the Internet."The government has no business placing blanket prohibitions on drugs in the first place, and certainly has no business trying to restrict information concerning drugs, no matter what medium is used to transmit that information," emailed James Farrell, a director of the Lycaeum, an Internet drug metasite."Who judges 'intent' and 'knowledge,' and according to what standards?" Farrell wrote. "Our intent in providing drug information is not to help people break the law, nor do we have specific knowledge of people using our information to break the law -- and even if we did, information on the Web is not targeted (to any specific individual)."Especially active in the battle against the bill have been medicinal marijuana enthusiasts, many of whom are confident the law -- which bans distributing information on manufacturing any drug, not just meth -- is an attempt to block pro-pot debate on the Net. Some of them lobbied in February for an exception in the bill for online discussions of medicinal marijuana. "I said, 'Hey, do you realize this would apply to information regarding medical marijuana? Don't you realize medical marijuana is legal in California?'" said Dale Gieringer, California coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But when he posed that question to Feinstein's staffers, Gieringer said, he was told "she was comfortable with the language as it stood."'s legal staff denies the bill was created to target medicinal marijuana sites, noting Feinstein successfully pushed for changes in the bill's drafts so it focused on drug manufacture, not drug use. The bill's intent clause will probably keep prosecutors from becoming overzealous in any case, they say -- assuming the bill even becomes law as-is."We're still listening to comments from individuals and others," Hantman said. "She's certainly open to future changes."That's not good enough for longtime medicinal cannabis advocate Peter McWilliams, publisher of the online Medical Marijuana Magazine and the online book "How To Grow Medical Marijuana." has already spent time in federal court over his advocacy of medicinal pot -- in November, he pleaded guilty in federal court to growing thousands of marijuana plants and selling the drug after a judge barred him from using California's recently passed medical-marijuana ballot initiative as a defense. the meth bill passes, McWilliams said he would remove much of the content of his sites rather than face more trouble."I'm obviously going to have to take my book off the market," McWilliams said. "The First Amendment is now destroyed." What do you think? Direct Link To Article: Posted: April 27, 2000Foundation for National Progress CannabisNews Articles On The Meth Bill:
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Comment #9 posted by Jose Melendez on March 24, 2002 at 09:16:04 PT
"FIRE!" = "Marijuana is dangerous!"
You can't shout fire in a crowded theaterThat's exactly what drug prohibition does, by lying: ("FIRE!" = "Marijuana is dangerous!") ...they cause a panic that precipitates into a stampede, causing economic and sometimes fatal harm.
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Comment #8 posted by tbone on March 24, 2002 at 08:35:45 PT:
help, big brother is trying to do it again!i can't help but wonder what will be next? if they would only legalize and regulate production and intake our country would be alot better off as far as drug abuse and drug related crimes go! for most people would quit if it were legal as most start out using only because it is a high in itself to get and use illeagal drugs without getting caught!not to mention it would help those of us who have been using since the old days to get something decent and safe, instead of the junk that is on the streets due to every little mom and pop lab trying to produce meth to" get rich quick " do they not know that even if they wiped out all of the labs in the us that the meth cartel in mexcio would still export the stuff to the states? when will it end? 
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Comment #7 posted by jennii on July 17, 2001 at 04:25:13 PT:
no matter what govermental or police departments do ( apart from random shootings which is almost like the drive by,s caused from drugs)they wont stop on line recepies or off line cooks doing their best.hey they banned sudafed as it has an ingrediant for speed,so now they found something else to put in it.If they just made it legal then we may just stop trying to outdo them.
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Comment #6 posted by MikeEEEEE on April 27, 2000 at 17:33:27 PT
This law is more stupid than the war on drugs.
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Comment #5 posted by mungojelly on April 27, 2000 at 16:27:03 PT:
Did they really think passing this law would make it HARDER to find out how to make meth online? If this passes, we'll all have trouble avoiding the instructions for a month or two... 
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Comment #4 posted by J. Bills on April 27, 2000 at 15:35:36 PT:
Will free speech be illegal soon?
Take a marijuana seed. Place it in some soil and wait about 4 months. This statement will be deemed illegal by the land of the "free"? It is coming to a head soon for sure. If this bill passes, it will surely bring things to a boil. Time to join the Libertarian Party. It is the ONLY party that still believes in the constitution!
Libertarian Party
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Comment #3 posted by Bernard on April 27, 2000 at 11:22:45 PT
It's the thought police
These are Orwellian times we are living in folks. 
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on April 26, 2000 at 21:49:12 PT
My opinion
 This nasty little item of legistlative blasphemy is one of the most terrifying and ghastly things that has ever reared its' ugly head in the name of,"save our children,heck with the Constitution". It becomes even more scary,when one realizes thatthis bill will probably be passed,,sliding in under the radar,because it will be given little attention in the national media.The big news will be dominated by the next Elian Gonzales diversion/sham,and any news you hear of this outrage,will portray it as necessary and harmless to free speech. In reality,this bill is a monster from hell,and will be the "foot in the door",for control of the internet.This thing is as American as Stalin or a Nike tennis shoe. DANGER,,,WARNING WILL ROBINSON....DANGER WARNING!!!!!......dddd
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 26, 2000 at 19:27:12 PT
Related Articles
Here are two of the three articles mentioned in Speed Limit! Thought I should post these too!Drug Mistreatment Drugs: Kill Addicts
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