Could drug trafficing bill lead to prosecutions of Americans who get high in Amsterdam


A bill headed to the House floor today has drug law reformers in a tizzy. Critics of the ominously named Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2010 argue that passage of the bill could require American citizens to cancel their drug-fueled visits to Amsterdam, and perhaps prevent them from sampling the rich oily hashish of Northern Morocco.

“[This bill] seeks to authorize U.S. criminal prosecution of anyone in the U.S. suspected of conspiring mwith 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,” the Drug Policy Alliance wrote on its Facebook page. “These penalties apply even if the controlled substance is legal under some circumstances in the other country.”

The bill’s architects beg to differ.

“If you go to Amsterdam on vacation and smoke a doob, you’re fine,” a senior House Judiciary committee staffer told The Daily Caller. “So long as it’s legal in the country where you’ll be.”

Sponsored by hard-line drug warrior Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, and cosponsored by California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2010 will likely pass tomorrow despite the DPA’s argument that broad language in the bill could one day serve as an excuse to prosecute Americans for possessing drugs outside the U.S. The bill also has a counterpart in the Senate.

“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. 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,” the DPA’s Facebook note warns.

The Judiciary Committee staffer says the DPA’s fears are overblown.

“So what? I say to someone, ‘I’m going to [possess] a dime bag of marijuana when I get to Amsterdam’?” the staffer said. “I can’t technically say that’s not within the four corners of the Controlled Substances Act. But how is a law enforcement officer supposed to know that?”