Have you watched the famous internet series on the WEIRD YouTube channel called "Autocomplete Interviews"? The essence of this show lies in watching celebrities react to the top search results from Google. These results can range from positive to negative. Sometimes, those who receive positive results are considered role models for the general public. As we often say, it's not important for you to tell people who you are; it's more valuable when people themselves define you.
Taiwan frequently utilizes these results to promote itself as the freest country in Asia. (Yes, this might be people defining who you are. But you're using this to say, "Look, this is me!" Okay, you're thinking outside the box.) As a citizen living in this country, I can attest that I feel quite free here. However, there have been numerous instances, especially around election time, where I've had to question whether "freedom" is mere propaganda. And what confounds me the most is the intended audience. The following news I wish to share has deeply affected my thoughts.
We were greatly surprised by a news release from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of China on the evening of August 9, 2023. Here's a brief summary for you: The news stated that spreading the theory that marijuana is harmless or providing instructions on using marijuana online can lead to prosecution.
Evidently, the Ministry of Justice has misinterpreted the legal provisions.
For those who don't understand Mandarin, we have prepared a translation of the news release from the Ministry of Justice.
Inducing others to use marijuana, whether domestically or internationally, constitutes a serious offense under the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act. The authorities reaffirm their strong commitment to enforcing the law and urge citizens not to test it with their actions.
I. The Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act imposes penalties for inducing others to use drugs, with a maximum sentence of 7 years of imprisonment.
According to Article 7, Paragraph 2 of the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, "A person who induces another to use a second-category narcotic shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than one year but not more than seven years, and may also be fined not more than one million New Taiwan Dollars." Marijuana is classified as a second-category narcotic in our country. Instructing others to use marijuana online or promoting the "harmless theory of cannabis" to induce others to use it could potentially constitute the crime of inducing others to use a second-category narcotic. If minors are induced to use marijuana, the penalty may be increased by up to one-half under Article 9, Paragraph 1 of the same Act.
II. Inducing others to use marijuana, whether domestically or internationally, falls within the scope of our country's criminal law and can lead to prosecution.
Pursuant to Article 5, Paragraph 8 of the Criminal Code, a person who commits the crime of inducing others to use drugs outside our country's territory is subject to our country's criminal law. Therefore, regardless of whether the offense occurs within or outside our country's borders, spreading the "harmless theory of cannabis" to induce others to use marijuana can be prosecuted and investigated by our country.
III. Prosecution agencies under the Ministry will continue to intensively investigate marijuana-related crimes, aiming to trace upwards to the source and dig downwards to the root.
To curb the ongoing spread of marijuana, prosecution agencies under the Ministry have prioritized the investigation of marijuana as a key focus of the Anti-Drug Safe Community Project. Efforts are aimed at tracing the supply source of marijuana and uncovering the use of marijuana, all in order to safeguard the health of our citizens. The Ministry reiterates that drug crimes are serious offenses and will vigorously conduct sweeps. Those who attempt to defy the law will be promptly and strictly dealt with according to the law.
Based on the information presented in the first and second paragraphs of the news release, it is quite astonishing that the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of China considers anyone, regardless of their location, who creates content related to cannabis, as subject to potential prosecution under the Republic of China's judicial system. Consequently, we can draw the following conclusion: Any form of education, documentary, music, film, or published book related to substances classified as "drugs" by the Republic of China could potentially face prosecution for "inducing" others to use such substances.
It is utterly outrageous and absurd to employ the criminal law of "inducing others to use drugs" as a means to punish content creators advocating for cannabis legalization. This action is highly irrational and can be seen as nothing short of declaring war on people's freedom of speech. This law was originally enacted to penalize the concrete act of persuading specific individuals to use drugs; however, it is now being twisted to punish individuals who, through online discourse, may potentially influence unspecified individuals to use drugs.
The third paragraph of the news release suggests that the government of the Republic of China continues to adhere to the outdated and proven-to-fail "war on drugs" strategy. It is infuriating to witness the government now using a news release to seemingly pledge to stifle the freedom of speech advocating for peaceful efforts towards cannabis legalization through punitive measures.
When a pioneer embarks on their most enduring adventure to conquer the most challenging aspect of their life, what transforms their name into a legacy? Is it merely the pioneer's slightly greater effort compared to those around them, or is it the unwavering resolve to uphold their beliefs that truly defines greatness?
I fucking love cannabis and psychedelics, and they have significantly influenced the way I live my life in a way I love. Freedom.