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The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act of 1999
Censorship Bill (H.B. 2987 & S.B. 486)
(anti-speech components removed in committee)

News (August, 2000)
The US House Judiciary Committee chaired by Henry Hyde on July 25, 2000 struck out all of the anti-speech provisions of the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act (HR2987), meeting all of the ACLU's requests for 1st Amendment protections. We owe thanks to Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Bob Barr for their joint amendment to strip out the dissemination of information provisions. Barr was able to pull about 4 other Republicans for a close 15-12 vote in favor of the amendment. That was the sole remaining First Amendment problem after the ACLU and others had successfully removed the rest of the unconstitutional wording from the law before the hearing.

The new version of HR2987 now includes some of the anti-ecstasy provisions and this version seems likely to be accepted by the Senate. Read more about this at the CCLE.

News (May, 2000)
The most recent activity in the House has been that the Bill went to the judiciary committee on May 9th, but we don't have any word on what happened there yet. The Senate bill got attached to the bankruptcy bill in mid April, and that's the last we heard of it. We heard a rumor that the language of the House bill was changed to include the bad language of the Senate bill.

It appears that the language of the censorship portion of the Senate bill has been tightened somewhat, removing the word "use" and thus only censoring information on the "manufacture" of any controlled substance. While this is a vast improvement (any reduction in scope of censorship is good), it is still completely unacceptable. The House version of the bill still includes "or use" language which would make it illegal to say "don't inject heroin into your eyeball!".

While S. 486 passed (unanimously) in the Senate, it appears to be going through additional revisions, perhaps in an attempt to create a version which would be capable of passing both the House and the Senate. The House bill appears to be in limbo, most likely, the two versions are being negotiated in committee.


Summary
The "Methamphetamine Anti-proliferation Act of 1999" claims to be an attempt to reduce the harms associated with methamphetamine abuse. Unfortunately the legislation includes wording which would make it illegal (punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison) to publish or provide information relating to the "manufacture of a controlled substance". The stated purpose is to censor information on how to make illicit chemicals such as methamphetamine, but the law would likely also cover information on growing cannabis, psilocybe mushrooms, and other plants which produce scheduled substances.

Information on growing morning glories, any of a wide range of ornamental cacti, virtually any decorative poppy, and any of the tens of thousands of common plants that contain DMT could well become "illicit" information, subject to prosecutorial and police discretion, if it were shared in the wrong context, put on the wrong website, or maybe even kept in a home library. History & anthropology books talking about the traditional harvesting, preparation, and ritual use of psychoactive plants could also clearly fall under the language of this proposed law.

The bill would also make it illegal to advertise or "link to" any website that sells "drug paraphernalia. This might be the first bill which would make it a prosecuteable offense to "link to" another site on the web. If some company or webpage you happen to link to starts offering for sale something which could be considered "paraphernalia" (the definition federally is quite broad), your home and computers could be seized, and you could be arrested and imprisoned for years.


Erowid's Opinion
This bill is a clear attempt to censor information about a topic of which the sponsoring senators disapprove. It is already illegal to manufacture and use controlled substances in the United States. It is equally illegal, under current conspiracy laws, to aid in the production of a controlled substance by knowingly providing materials or information to another individual who uses it in the breaking of a federal law.

Making illegal the possession of knowledge is ethically wrong. Knowing how to manufacture methamphetamine is not the same thing as producing methamphetamine. We at Erowid have never manufactured an illegal substance, but that doesn't mean that we are not interested in the technical, historical, and cultural details about methamphetamine manufacture. We study the trends around the production and use of mind-altering substances, as do thousands of others including medical, academic and law enforcement organizations.

This pending bill is a dangerous piece of legislation, allowing those in positions of power to choose who is allowed to speak and teach about psychoactive drugs. Those who disagree could be silenced and jailed. If passed, this bill would be extremely detrimental to the efforts and operation of harm-reduction organizations, educational institutions, and libraries.

Please contact your representative and let them know you do not support this type of tyranny.


OFFSITE RESOURCES


Additional Information
What impact would this law have on Erowid?

Primary Resource
Alt Lit's site - Best site on this bill - Dedicated to tracking this bill
Senate Bill 486 - Full Details on it's current status
House Bill 2987 - Full Details on it's current status

Secondary Resources
ACLU - Drug Bill Threatens Privacy of All Americans
Shall Make No Law, About.com
Smashing Meth or Trashing Rights, by Mark Greer
The Internet is About to Be Censored

Media
Bill Would Outlaw Internet Drug Information, APB News
Reefer Madness Hits Congress, Wired News
Washington 451, The Village Voice

Supporting Sites
Senator Ashcroft - Missouri senator's speech supporting this bill
Methamphetamines - Orin Hatch's page on the bill