REAL PUBLIC LIBRARIAN

Monday, June 12, 2006

Can I recommend a good weed, I mean, read?

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that the only thing worse than bad publicity was no publicity(or something like that). So for what it's worth Queensland libraries are receiving a lot of publicity about carrying books about cannabis, marijuana, etc. By chance it all started in my own neck of the woods (how ironic is it that the Library of the Year just announced is also where this whole thing started! I bet the media will be making something of that!) and I only learned about it from my local newspaper when I was reading the week's worth I missed cos I was at the conference. The gist of it is, that a man got off the charge of possessing illegal drug books by presenting to the judge the photocopied covers of similar publications from his local library. Following up on the story, the Brisbane papers had reporters checking their own locals, and lo and behold, many libraries were carrying similar materials. Seems some of them may be illegal depending on how "helpful" they are - ie if it describes how to grow and use the products, then they are (understandably) illegal in this State. Someone should let the booksellers know, as a Google search on "cannabis books libraries" zeroes in on the very helpful title "Cannabis breeder's bible" from the "Buy Australian"website. (Possibly it's only illegal in Queensland.)

At my library, at least twice a year we turn away borrowers who want us to help them find information on how to build a still. We tell them it's illegal to distill liquor in Queensland without a licence so we're not going to assist. But if someone asked for info on cannabis, I'm not sure we would have been quite so unhelpful (prior to this incident of course) - how would we know what the borrower was needing the information for?? Intellectual freedom and all... Although I guess if the borrower wanted to know how to construct a bong we would have drawn the line. Makes me realize how rusty my library ethics are. If, as Doug suggested in his talk at the Conference, it's our professional ethics that make the difference, this is an urgent wake up call to me to review my own convictions. There but for the grace of God go I etc...

Anyway for those of you interested in the story from where it started, here's an extract from the original article:
Library lends weight to drug defence07.06.2006
WHY was Rockhampton’s Graham Manson Holden charged for having books on how to grow cannabis when they are readily available from the city’s library?
That was the argument the 65-year-old used in court yesterday — and it worked.
Magistrate Bronwyn Springer discharged Holden on the May 22 charge of possessing two illegal books, which he had pleaded guilty to.
After noting Holden had no criminal history, Magistrate Springer did not impose a fine nor record a conviction.
In court, Holden said the books had been left in a granny flat of his.
He said he did not know it was illegal to have them.
He produced photocopies of the covers of eight books of the same type which he said he found at the city library last week.
The photocopies were tendered to the court and viewed by Magistrate Springer.
Yesterday The Morning Bulletin borrowed a book titled Cannabis, by Jonathon Green, from the Southside Library.
It included detailed information on how to grow, cultivate and harvest cannabis.
It also had "useful techniques’’ for how to roll a joint and make a bong.
Furthermore, it gave three "classic cannabis recipes’’ including hash brownies (cakes), bhang lassi (potent drink) and cannabis ghee (clarified butter).
Last month, Rockhampton’s Michael Wickenden was fined $300 for possessing an illegal book after he bought The Secret Life of Weed for $25 at a Sexpo in Western Australia.

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