Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wandering the InterWebs

Today's adventure began with the word paraphernalia. I tend to spell it wrong because I pronounce it wrong, it's that pesky third syllable. Well anyways I wondered about the uses of the term that do not have the word "drug" in front of them. This query led to several webpages and before you know it I am on the U. S. Department of Justice website, where I find this culturally interesting information.

Drug paraphernalia is any legitimate equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Drug paraphernalia generally falls into two categories:

  • User-specific products
  • Dealer-specific products
User-specific products are marketed to drug users to assist them in taking or concealing illegal drugs. These products include certain pipes, smoking masks, bongs, cocaine freebase kits, marijuana grow kits, roach clips, and items such as hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake pagers used to conceal illegal drugs.
Dealer-specific products are used by drug traffickers for preparing illegal drugs for distribution at the street level. Items such as scales, vials, and baggies fall into this category. Drug paraphernalia does not include any items traditionally used with tobacco, like pipes and rolling papers.
Under the Federal Drug Paraphernalia Statute, which is part of the Controlled Substances Act, it is illegal to possess, sell, transport, import, or export drug paraphernalia as defined. The law gives specific guidance on determining what constitutes drug paraphernalia. Many states have also enacted their own laws prohibiting drug paraphernalia.
With the rise of the drug culture in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the country began to see the appearance of “head shops,” which were stores that sold a wide range of drug paraphernalia. While some of the paraphernalia was crude and home-made, much was being commercially manufactured to cater to a fast-growing market. Enterprising individuals even sold items openly in the street, until anti-paraphernalia laws in the 1980s eventually ended such blatant sales. Today, law enforcement faces another challenge. With the advent of the Internet, criminals have greatly expanded their illicit sales to a worldwide market for drug paraphernalia. For example, in a recent law enforcement effort, Operation Pipedreams, the 18 companies targeted accounted for more than a quarter of a billion dollars in retail drug paraphernalia sales annually. Typically, such illicit businesses operate retail stores as well as websites posing as retailers of legitimate tobacco accessories when in reality the products are intended for the illegal drug trade.
Drug paraphernalia is often marketed specifically to youth—with colorful logos, celebrity pictures, and designs like smiley faces on the products—the items are meant to look harmless and belie the dangers of taking controlled substances. Other paraphernalia like magic markers can conceal pipes, and small, hand-painted blown glass items look more like pretty trinkets than pipes or stash containers. Parents need to be aware that these kinds of products often conceal drug use.

Another click, still on the DoJ website, I found this:

If you visit our site to read or download information, we collect and store the following information about your visit:
- The name of the Internet domain and the IP address from which you access our site;
- The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
- The date and time you access our site;
- The Internet address of the Web site from which you linked directly to our site; and
- The pages you visit and the information you request.
This information is primarily collected for statistical analysis and technical improvements to the site. This government computer system uses software programs to create summary statistics, which may be used for such purposes as assessing what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas. In certain circumstances, however, we may take additional steps to identify you based on this information and we may share this information, including your identity, with other government agencies.
A final click locates this information:
The Department of Justice is pleased to participate on open, un-moderated forums offered by commercial social networks sites in order to increase government transparency, promote public participation and encourage collaboration with the Department.
We currently maintain official Department of Justice accounts on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter.
Today's information is provided by Keeping Your Head in All the Games for your personal edification and is therefore provided without political commentary or paranoia. Those are your responsibility as a citizen of a democracy or other form of government depending on where you are reading this post. KYHiAtG does not collect information on its readers. OK, we do but we are not going to tell you what we get or how we are going to use it.
photo credit: archives

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