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DEA Subpoenas Publisher for List of Buyers of Marijuana Cultivation Book


November-December 1997

The Drug Enforcement Administration office in Arizona has issued a subpoena to Ronin Publishing Inc. for a list of all Arizona residents who purchased its book about growing marijuana (Henry K. Lee, "Dope on pot book buyers sought," San Francisco Chronicle, October 29, 1997, p. A19).

Ronin was subpoenaed in July for the names of all Arizona residents who purchased the book entitled Marijuana Hydroponics: High Tech Water Culture, written by Daniel Storm in 1987. Ronin has refused to submit the list, saying the order is too broad and raises questions about civil liberties. Ronin co-owner, Beverly Potter, said, "We have concerns about our customers' privacy and First Amendment rights." Ronin has said that the company may cooperate if a judge narrows the DEA's request. The DEA issued the subpoena under its own authority, and did not seek a judge's approval. Many companies that have been subpoenaed have refused to cooperate, saying that the nonjudicial subpoenas are often too vague.

The DEA eventually backed off its demands that the owners of two gardening stores in Arizona turn over the names of customers who bought the book. "This was a fishing expedition by the DEA to see who they could go after," said Nick Hentoff, a Phoenix lawyer hired by the ACLU to represent one of the two gardening businesses. A DEA spokesman said it is unlikely that the agency will abandon its pursuit of people who buy the book, and did not comment on the Ronin subpoenas ("DEA Drops Subpoenas To Get Customer Names," San Francisco Chronicle, November 27, 1997).

Ronin is also the publisher of Marijuana Law, 2nd Edition, by Richard Glen Boire, "which describes how people can reduce the probability of arrest for possession, sale or cultivation of marijuana." It includes wallet cards to hand to police officers instead of answering their questions.

Ronin Publishing Inc. - Box 1035, Berkeley, CA, 94701; Tel: (510) 540-6278; Fax: (510) 548-1326; E-mail:,