http://www.metroactive.com/papers/me...uana-9929.html


Will the easy availability of drugs on the Internet open the door to a depraved new world? If current trends are any indication, U.S. drug policy is an endangered species

By Michelle Goldberg

It came in a plain brown wrapper--two varieties of high-grade marijuana totaling a quarter ounce, delivered to a downtown San Francisco office building via regular mail. The pot had been ordered off a website in Amsterdam, members.xoom.com/drugsstore/, which is designed to look just like a Dutch coffee-shop menu. The site offers two types of weed and five types of hash, all pictured and listed on a pull-down order form with boxes to let buyers specify how many grams of each kind they want. After ordering, customers receive an email with an address on it. They're instructed to send cash. It's a risk, but in this case it paid off. The twentysomething professional who ordered it found the marijuana to be not only a bargain at $92 including delivery, but sweet, green and potent.

Of course, buying marijuana online is illegal. But enforcing marijuana prohibition online isn't easy, especially when sellers live in countries with more tolerant drug laws, such as the Netherlands. Even harder to detect is the flourishing online seed trade, since packages of pot seeds are usually undetectable by the U.S. Department of Customs drug dogs. The result is that the Internet, which for years has been making national borders increasingly porous, is slowly helping to subvert marijuana prohibition. The new trade is thriving on two fronts: filling up the stash boxes of recreational users who want the same convenience buying their weed that they have purchasing books and CDs at amazon.com, and supplying medical marijuana patients, especially those in places like San Jose without a local pot dispensary.

"The government is going to learn what the music industry is learning. The net is a wall buster," says technology journalist Jon Katz, who wrote the Netizen column for Hotwired and who now writes for the tech news site Slashdot. "It's not policeable. There are not enough cops in the world to monitor all the communications and digital commerce that's going on. The effort to control the flow of drugs into the U.S. is a complete failure with or without the Internet. The Internet is just going to make it harder. There are millions of new ways for consumers and retailers to find each other. The DEA can sniff all the packages it wants, but it can't make more than a fraction of a dent in the business."

In real life, a person without a regular marijuana connection may spend days or weeks searching for a dealer. Online, it takes just a few clicks. Though he's never done it, Katz says he would feel comfortable buying pot online. "I feel I can buy almost anything online safely," he says. "I know enough people online that could get almost anything for me in minutes."

In fact, Katz believes that the Internet is going to force a reconsideration of domestic marijuana policy. "That's the power of the Net--it's really not for the government to be telling people whether they should be using marijuana or not, and the Internet makes it possible for people to make these judgments on their own. The Internet has killed off traditional notions of moral policing."

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