Social Justice website Think Progress reported late last week on a new attack from the federal government.
Specifically, the United States attorney based in San Diego announced a plan to target newspaper and radio advertisements from MMJ dispensaries.
Already this month, U.S. attorneys in four different California districts stated that the federal government would be going after landlords and property owners who rent the buildings where dispensaries operate, or the land where marijuana is grown, but now they’re expanding that to include media outlets like radio stations and newspapers that air or print ads for dispensaries.
This information comes from an announcement made by U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy, who covers San Diego and Imperial counties. Duffy told the press that she would be targeting the media, “…as part of the enforcement efforts in Southern California.” While Duffy also said she wasn’t speaking for the three other U.S. Attorneys covering California, she did make it clear that the four of them have been coordinating their efforts thus far.
Federal law prohibits the placing of ads for marijuana, or any other illegal drug, in, “…any newspaper, magazine, handbill or other publication.” While the law does not explicitly include the Internet, there is precedent for targeting online ads, as the U.S. Department of Justice recently won a $500 million settlement from Google, which was selling ads for online Canadian pharmacies.
Since the law specifies that it’s the placing of ads that is illegal, it’s possible that only the dispensaries and growers – those actually advertising – will be targeted, and not the media itself.
Still, it’s worrisome: where does free press begin and end? And shouldn’t the U.S. government focus on creating jobs and not targeting people who create very little disharmony?