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November 2005
Recent News and Updates
by Erowid
Nov 2005
Citation:   Erowid. "Recent News and Updates". Erowid Extracts. Nov 2005;9:2.
Supreme Court Rules on Raich #
On June 6, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has the right to prosecute patients who use medical marijuana, even in states where medical marijuana use is legal, and even in cases which do not involve cultivation, sale, or transport of cannabis across state lines.

The federal Controlled Substance Act relies on the (now virtually unlimited) right of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled that the Act was unconstitutional when used to regulate local production and consumption of a drug intended only for personal medical use.

  1. Gonzales v. Raich. U.S. S.Ct. 03-1454. Decision. Jun 6 2005.
DEA Uses Erowid Images #
For the last six years, the DEA has occasionally used images from Erowid, uncredited, in various online and print publications. It has also, without permission, distributed our photographs as part of a free-use DEA collection. This first came to our attention in 2001 when we picked up a newly published book about psychoactives, only to find photos inside that we had taken. After contacting the author, we were told that he had been provided the images by the DEA, with no mention that it did not own the copyrights. Erowid is properly credited in later editions of the book.

The recent 2004 Annual Report of the DEA's National Forensic Laboratory Information System features the unauthorized use of no fewer than nine images from Erowid's collection, this time all flanked by the text "www.Erowid.org". Although we applaud the improved source acknowledgements, we remain confused by the failure to request permission. The DEA clearly knows the images are owned by someone else, yet it continues to use them in violation of U.S. copyright law. Some of the images are not owned by Erowid, we simply have permission to display them. Further, none of the photographers are credited, one of our primary requirements for use.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration. Year 2004 Annual Report NFLIS. DEA. 2005.
Utah Rave Raided #
In a well-publicized incident on August 20, 2005, a permitted rave in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah was violently raided by law enforcement agents. Authorities claim that the rave, held on private land, did not have the required mass gathering permit.

The event's promoter says he did obtain all the proper permits. It does not appear that the sheriff's office will face consequences for its harsh use of military-style troops during the raid, but the ACLU has announced it will join in the lawsuit filed against the Utah County Sheriff by the Salt Lake City-based promoter.

Marc Emery's Arrest #
On July 29th, 2005, Canadian cannabis activist and cannabis seed vendor Marc Emery was arrested by Canadian authorities on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. What is most interesting about this case is that these charges have been brought by U.S. law enforcement, who are asking that Emery be extradited to the United States to face trial and 10 years to life in prison.

Emery and two associates were indicted by a U.S. Federal Grand Jury in Seattle on May 26, 2005. A U.S. extradition request was filed, and a Canadian warrant issued for his arrest. He is free on bail while officials decide whether or not he will be extradited. This decision appears to lie in large part with Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who could refuse extradition on a number of grounds, including: 1) if it appears Emery is being prosecuted for a political offense; 2) if there is considerable disparity between Canadian and U.S. sentences for the charges he faces; or 3) if the crimes Emery is charged with are not crimes in Canada.

Whether the sale or possession of cannabis seeds is illegal in Canada has yet to be fully decided. The language of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act does not explicitly forbid cannabis seeds: outlawing only "cannabis, its preparations, derivatives and similar synthetic preparations." Yet in 2000, a Canadian Court of Appeal confirmed the conviction of hemp shop owner Ian Hunter for selling cannabis seeds. Judges based this decision on a separate clause that legalizes "non-viable cannabis seeds", interpreting it to mean that viable seeds were forbidden.

Despite this controversial decision, Emery and other shop owners continued to sell cannabis seeds openly without arrest or prosecution. Until two years ago, the Canadian federal government referred medical marijuana patients to Emery's business to purchase seeds.

It is possible that Justice Minister Cotler will deny extradition. Whatever the decision, the outcome may have significant implications for Canadian cannabis law and for U.S.-Canadian relations.

  1. McKnight P. "Cotler caught in a web of hemp." Vancouver Sun Electronic Ed. Sep 10, 2005.
  2. Federal Grand Jury Indicts Marijuana Seed Distributor. U.S. Attorney's Office Press Release. Jul 29, 2005.
U.K. Ban on Mushrooms Complete #
The legal sale of fresh psilocybin-containing mushrooms in the United Kingdom has come to an end. Although the law making possession of unprocessed psilocybin mushrooms illegal was passed in April 2005, it did not go into effect until July 18, when the British government clarified that it does not apply in cases where people accidentally pick or inadvertently have these mushrooms growing on their property. This clarification came in response to earlier criticisms that the law could mean that the Queen was guilty of mushroom possession because of mushrooms that grow on Royal property.

While we were in London speaking at DTL's conference in June (see page 21), we noticed many shops still openly advertised the sale of magic mushrooms; we enjoyed visiting the vendors and chatting with them about the odd legal situation. One vendor attending the conference had to leave in the middle of the day after receiving word that the police were at his shop to close down mushroom sales. Over the next three weeks, London shops ceased sales, and the three-year era of legal psilocybin mushrooms in the U.K. ended.