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September 2010
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Bad Bill Alert

Remember that final scene in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, where Kumar convinces Harold to go with him to Amsterdam, reminding him that marijuana is legal in the Netherlands? Well, that might just get them thrown in jail for “conspiracy to commit, at any place outside the United States, an act that would constitute a violation of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act if committed within the United States,” under an extremely bad new law proposed by Representative Lamar Smith of Texas that might be voted on today.

The Drug Policy Alliance has an alert on it and is urging people to call Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-0100 and urging to stop the bill from going forward.

They note:

  • The Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2010 (H.R. 5231), introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (the only House member to speak against reforming the racist crack/powder disparity), seeks to authorize U.S. criminal prosecution of anyone in the U.S. suspected of conspiring with one or more persons, or aiding or abetting one or more persons, to commit at any place outside the United States an act that would constitute a violation of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act if committed within the United States.
  • These penalties apply even if the controlled substance is legal under some circumstances in the other country. An American treatment provider working with doctors in England, Denmark, Germany, or Switzerland to provide heroin assisted treatment and sterile syringes to heroin users in those countries could face arrest. As could an otherwise law-abiding American planning with some friends to use marijuana legally in the Netherlands while on vacation there.
  • Even though this bill references drug trafficking in the title, it also criminalizes conspiring to possess and use marijuana or other drugs in other countries if more than one person is involved – even if drug use is decriminalized in that country. Thus, it imposes America’s harsh drug policies on other countries, and further criminalizes a health issue. The bill’s title is very misleading.
  • Even when applied against drug traffickers, The Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act would likely perpetuate injustice. Under U.S. drug conspiracy laws a person can be found guilty even when there are no drugs or other physical evidence involved. The uncorroborated word of someone pointing fingers to get a reduced sentence is all it takes. Moreover anyone convicted of being part of a drug conspiracy is punished not for the offense they actually committed but for all the offenses committed by members in the conspiracy. This has led to very low-level, impoverished, first-time offenders receiving sentences that are decades long. Conspiracy laws drive the so-called “girlfriend problem” whereby thousands of women every year are sentenced to harsh sentences for the crimes of their abusive partners.
  • The United States houses 5% of the world’s population but 25% of its incarcerated population. This excess of incarceration is a direct result of punitive and ineffective drug laws, which are currently crippling our social and economic resources. Trends in the U.S. are shifting toward alternative sentencing and away from the policies developed in the almost forty years since Nixon declared the “War on Drugs.” H.R. 5231 would be a detrimental step in the wrong direction.
  • House Leadership should not bring this problematic bill up for a vote. It has only two cosponsors and wasn’t even considered in committee.

It would be nice to see a bill like this one completely trashed in Congress. I would hope that the public relations success of the recent crack/powder sentencing disparity adjustment bill would help Congress realize that they don’t have to vote in favor of every stupid draconian drug law. That in fact, it won’t make them more popular with their constituents.

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66 comments to Bad Bill Alert

  • new guy

    love the ad hominen logic – you know you type fat. Would not start comparing brain pans sweetness – you are an Ameirkan no?

  • Maria

    I am not quite sure what ‘hominen logic’ is but I do hope it was tasty for you. Have a lovely night.

    Back to the bill. Call in, fax in and write in (emails aren’t as effective.) And please, don’t type fat. Don’t follow my example, and do make your point when contacting dear Nancy. 😉

  • rogar

    whats wrong with you people? i read the whole bill and it’s quite good.this will help keep people from doing drugs outside the U.S. and obay the US laws while out of country.I support this bill.and if you people dont than your no better than north korea.YOU guys just support tyanny and communism. this bill has no flaws,and actully to the one who said “they should ban the talk about drugs” thats a good idea.that will help save the kids,by not forcing them to be lyed to by pushers of dangerous substances like marijuana.which we know is the leading cause of kids not going to college.

  • B-roll

    ^^ How are we supporting communism, we are supporting, but i might be falling for sarcasm, ( it always happens to me) so please tell me that you are being sarcastic

  • darkcycle

    if it is the leading cause of kids not going to college, then how is it that it is their main pastime whilst there?

  • Just me.

    Ok thanks for making my point Bruce:
    To anyone that doesnt think prohibition should be ended…along with many other laws..but thats another story. If you dont want to remain a slave to the government..sign up here.

    We gotta start somewhere, this is as good as anyplace. It deals with restoring your freedoms.Your body IS yours , ending a racist policy is an attack on racism. This policy causes corruption in many levels of government. Heres a good place to START tackling that.

    Take a good long look at Mexico…Dont think it cant happen here? Think again.

  • B-roll

    obviously, I think this, like most users of this site do Rogar ( if you misspelled your own name Roger)we think people should be FREE ( note the word free in the context of freedom)to travel where they want with out a government to keep them in their own boarders for fear that they might use a substance deemed illegal, but is legal in another country, This bill almost leans towards fascist in every sense of the word. Yet you call us commies because we want to be smoking ganja without breaking the law. Our country was at that stage, but now we live in fear of being arrested and prosecuted while we’ve hurt no one. I think people who drink should be arrested because they are actually causing harm to themselves.(j/k but really) i want to know why you consider us communists, besides, how hard is it for the children to get their hands on alcohol, it’s pretty hard, how hard is it for children to get their hands on cigarettes it’s rather hard because those items are regulated by the government. What the people need to understand is that yes kids will have the ability to get their hands on regulated ganja like alcohol or cigarettes because lets face it, kids are crafty little devils. rather off topic but it had to go there. Roger or Rogar think before you type nonsense.

  • Negation

    I find it sad when people think that this will keep people from doing drugs outside the country. We can’t keep over one hundred million people in our own country from using illegal drugs, this won’t stop jack.

    Or I could be getting trolled, who knows.

  • Bailey

    Rogar…is your real name Gil Kerlikowski? You sound just like him.

    Thank you for making decisions for the rest of us. Hopefully one day I’ll get the chance to make some decisions for you.

    Seriously though…deficits. Is anyone asking what implementation of this bill will cost?

  • Rogar, you are a funny one. Luckily one is not obligated to respond nor respekt such nonsense because you put forth no arguments what so ever.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marc Parent, Miriam Said, Deloy Rester, leon, Rick Silver and others. Rick Silver said: Bad Bill Alert http://bit.ly/da7y9H […]

  • Rogar

    yes its sarcassim, like oh dear i just defacted in the swimming resepetical.

  • Paul United Kingdom

    So that means if someone was to go to Peru and they were to have “Mate de Coca” they would then go to prison?

  • Just me.

    Negation
    September 23, 2010 at 10:06 pm
    I find it sad when people think that this will keep people from doing drugs outside the country. We can’t keep over one hundred million people in our own country from using illegal drugs, this won’t stop jack.

    Or I could be getting trolled, who knows.

    You are right, it will do nothing execpt cause a few to be made criminals and for government to remove more of our freedom to choose.

  • the only way to stop people from using drugs (or doing any of the other things they do to themselves) is to to kill them.

  • Servetus

    Speaking of killing innocent, illicit drug consumers, a precedent exists for this kind of eliminationist behavior that was practiced in 1633 Constantinople by Sultan Murad IV. Murad’s focus in this case was on tobacco, coffee and alcohol, use of which he decreed as deserving the death penalty.

    A book by Count Egon Cesare Corti entitled “A History of Smoking” (1931) notes that Murad concealed his identity and wondered out among the Turks where he heard himself denounced in tobacco establishments. In Murad’s simple universe, he believed that by eliminating tobacco smokers he could eliminate his political opposition, much like the Nixon-Haldemann-Hoover strategy that focused on the drug preferences of minorities and political dissidents.

    To give you an idea of the caliber of homicidal maniac Murad represented, he once assembled 1,000 prisoners together who were convicted of various offenses, including drug charges, along with 1,000 executioners at their sides. When Murad exited a building, such that he could be seen by everyone present, by his orders all 1,000 prisoners were simultaneously executed.

    Murad’s executions accomplished nothing. Tobacco and coffee became a staple of Turkish culture upon the death of Murad IV. Alcohol didn’t because of its proscription by Islam throughout North Africa. Murad has been held up as historical proof that not even the death penalty can stop drug consumption.

    Nearly four-hundred years later we suffer mini-Murads in our midst who think they can victimize people into being obedient to prohibitionist quacks like Murad IV. The mini-Murads are as dead wrong as Sultan Murad IV is dead and buried. This time the bastards will be stopped.