|Photo: Lisa Provence/The Hook|
|Merchant Fred Carwile was surprised when eBay, without warning, removed his listings for back issues of High Times magazine|
A Virginia man says eBay deleted his sales listings for back issues of High Times — which he’s sold for years at the online auction site — at the request of the federal government.
Fred Carwile of Crozet, Va., said he was “frustrated and angry” that eBay pulled the ads without warning. What’s worse, he said two different eBay customer service representatives told him the marijuana-culture magazines were pulled “at the request of the federal government,” reports Lisa Provence at The Hook.
“The federal government cannot ban books,” Carwile said, noting that High Times is sold at Barnes and Noble and at convenience stores across the United States. “They’re pressuring a business to ban books.”
EBay claims it’s always been company policy to prohibit sales of items that “encourage, promote, facilitate, or instruct others to engage in illegal activities,” according to Anne Kott with APCO Worldwide, eBay’s public relations firm.
But medical marijuana is legal in California, where eBay is based, as well as in 13 other states.
“Even though there might be states that allow it, eBay probably goes under federal law,” claimed Kott, though the hired publicist was at a loss to explain the sudden enforcement of such a policy against High Times.
There were 600 completed transactions in just the past 30 days where copies of High Times were sold over eBay, according to The Hook.
“I’m not an authorized spokesperson for eBay,” equivocated Kott, who had not responded by press time to a reporter’s question about Carwile’s claim that the federal government had asked eBay to pull the plug on High Times — or about which federal entity might have made such a request.
“I’ve sold hundreds of these over the year, and then to say it violates policy, to me, it’s hypocrisy,” said another power seller, Garcia Santana, in Northern California.
“This is selective discrimination,” Santana said. “It’s sold in every state.”
Santana finds it suspicious that the listings were pulled during the middle of the Super Bowl, “when they must have thought nobody was paying attention.”
And he has a theory about the timing: “The same time Meg Whitman is running for governor.” Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO, is now vying for the Republican nomination to succeed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
California legalized medical marijuana by voter initiative in 1996, and will probably have an initiative on the ballot in November to legalize and tax the plant.
But Whitman, hewing close to skittish conservative groupthink about pot, has said that she’s “One hundred percent not in favor of legalizing marijuana for any reason.”