Latest Drug War Tactic An Attack on All Americans

May 24, 2000 12:00 am

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEWednesday, May 24, 2000
WASHINGTON — In a move that could endanger freedom of speech nationwide, the House Judiciary Committee is considering legislation that would both make it illegal to provide information about drugs and allow the government to secretly search Americans’ homes.

“This is not your garden variety expansion of the so-called war on drugs,” said Marvin Johnson, a Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington National Office. “The legislation would vastly expand the government’s power to search private homes and would shut down a vital source of information about topics like medical marijuana and hemp production by threatening web site and book publishers with jail time.”

When proposed independently, the plan to allow the government to secretly search people’s homes was met with such harsh criticism that it was withdrawn. As a result the Justice Department is trying to sneak it into law under the misleading heading of “notice clarification.”

The bill (HR 2987) would override the will of voters and legislatures in cities and states across the country by threatening to send doctors and other service providers to jail for providing information that the federal government believes contradicts its “war on drugs” propaganda. The bill would have a chilling effect on speech, as people will not engage in legitimate activity for fear of criminal prosecution.

The bill would also create new federal drug offenses, ignoring calls to halt the federalization of crime from across the political spectrum, including Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Representative Maxine Waters.

“Despite recent groundbreaking reports showing that minorities are far more likely to be targeted under harsh federal drug laws than whites accused of the same crimes, some members of Congress appear to be saying that no cost is too high when it comes to cultivating a tough on crime image,” said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.

The bill would spend billions of dollars incarcerating thousands of non-violent lower level offenders. Investing an additional $1 million in drug treatment programs would be 15 times more effective at reducing serious crime than enacting more mandatory sentences for drug offenses, according to a recent study by the Rand Corporation.

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