Row over banning of magazine
By Brendan Greenhill
BRISBANE — The Queensland Department of Consumer Affairs has refused distribution of the December issue of the lifestyle magazine Simply Living. The department has banned the magazine because it promotes the cultivation of prohibited drugs.
"The Simply Living guide to Growing Cannabis" gives a detailed description of how to grow marijuana. It also details how to select and grow seeds, nutrients, indoor cultivation and drying and cutting.
The marijuana reform group HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) has attacked the move and called for the ban to be lifted. Spokesperson Tony Kneipp has asked minister for consumer affairs Tom Burns to explain why he is dragging Queensland back into the Joh era.
Burns, the deputy premier, said the magazine promoted the development of major drug crops. Kneipp said, "This kind of law and order populism would do Joh proud".
A spokesperson for the Consumer Affairs Department said that the publication was investigated because of complaints received from a newsagent. Consumer Affairs also stated that there were other complaints but would not say what they were. It would not confirm what role the police had in the investigation.
Subsequently, the publications classification officer contacted the editor of Simply Living, who said that the article was the last of a series about cannabis and presented a balanced viewpoint to the series. Editor Matthew McPherson has been issued with a written direction. Newsagents throughout the state are in the process of returning all copies to the distributor.
Kneipp also attacked Burns for his statement to the media that the article was promoting the growing of multi-million dollar drug crops, the selection of a site for a major crop, and how to conceal it from the police. According to Kneipp, there were no such references in the article at all. "Any normal person would take it as being aimed at recreational users", he said.
The concern of groups such as HEMP is that the ban may lead to the progressive banning of literature on all aspects of cannabis law reform. Any publication which discusses or explains possible law-breaking can now be banned in Queensland.
[Brendan Greenhill is a journalist with Public Radio 4ZZZ-FM in Brisbane.]