Pubdate: Sun, 21 Jul 2002
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2002 The Gazette Newspapers
Author: Walter F. Wouk


Heads up, America, Big Brother's at it again. The Senate is poised to pass 
legislation that would give the federal government enormous power to fine 
and imprison supporters of marijuana legalization, even if they've never 
smoked marijuana.

The bill, known as the Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, 
was introduced in the Senate on June 18 and has already passed the Senate 
Judiciary Committee. It is moving very rapidly and could be passed by the 
Senate by the end of July (a similar bill is also pending in the House).

The legislation, which purports to be aimed at Ecstasy and other club 
drugs, would "prohibit an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, 
managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or 
profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or 
using any controlled substance, and for other purposes."

The terms "any controlled substance" and "for any other purposes" are aimed 
at "marijuana use" and intended to shut down hemp festivals, marijuana 
rallies and certain music festivals, and to punish business owners and 
activists for hosting or promoting them. Property owners, promoters and 
event coordinators could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars or face 
up to 20 years in federal prison.

The proposed law would also make it a federal crime to temporarily use a 
place for the purpose of using any illegal drug. Thus, anyone who used 
marijuana in their own home or threw an event (such as a party or barbecue) 
in which one or more of their guests used drugs could potentially face a 
$250,000 fine and years in federal prison.

Those of you who still care about civil liberties should contact your 
congressional representatives as soon as possible.


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