COMMENTARY | While you may be under the impression that Congress is inactive right now, there are activities going on that much of mainstream media is not addressing. In particular, there is legislation titled the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011, House Bill 313, that seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act. What this proposed change could potentially mean to you is eye-opening.
This proposed legislation was originally introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Lamar Smith, R-Texas, in January. The measure would extend the laws of the Controlled Substances Act beyond the borders of the United States and apply them globally. In other words, you would not have to be on American soil to plan, conduct, aid or abet any drug activity that is illegal in the U.S., even though it might be legal in whatever country you are at.
Maybe you're taking a deep breath right now--after all, you aren't a drug dealer or even an illegal drug user. Go ahead and let them pass this law, you might be thinking. Guess again.
Even though the politicians who sponsor and co-sponsor this law would likely attempt to persuade you that this legislation is designed for, and would only be used against major drug dealers, the broad scope of this bill has the potential for far-reaching effects.
Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance has explained that under this proposed law, a couple in the U.S. who plans a wedding in Amsterdam and plans to purchase marijuana there for the bridal party would be subject to prosecution. This is because, although it is legal to buy and smoke marijuana in Amsterdam, it is not legal in the U.S. The couple does not have to fulfill their plans; the planning alone is subject to prosecution.
Not going to Amsterdam you say? Scientists, physicians and academics would be subject to prosecution under this law if any research or project carried out in another country had any portion of it as an illegal activity in the U.S. Even providing information to such a project or research could be prosecuted. Imagine how handcuffed scientific and medical research could be by such a change?
House Bill 313 has been reviewed by the Judiciary Committee in the House and passed. Now the proposed law is in the hands of the Senate as S.1672. Before this proposal goes any further, let's tell our elected officials where we stand.
- Controlled Substances Act