Buzz kill: Crozet man finds eBay yanks High Times

news-carwileCrozet-based eBay merchant Fred Carwile was surprised by eBay's action.
PHOTO BY LISA PROVENCE

Super Bowl Sunday left Crozet resident Fred Carwile "frustrated and angry," he says. And not because the Saints won.

That was the day he discovered that his sales listings for back-issues of High Times magazine, which he's sold for years on eBay, had been yanked without warning.

Further infuriating Carwile: He claims that two different eBay customer service reps told him the marijuana-oriented mags were pulled at the request of the federal government.

"The federal government cannot ban books," says Carwile, who notes that the cannabis culture magazine is sold at Barnes and Noble and countless convenience stores across the nation. "They're pressuring a business to ban books."

EBay insists 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, a PR firm.

Yet medical marijuana is legal in California, where eBay is based, and in 13 other states.

"Even though there might be states that allow it, eBay probably goes under federal law," posits Kott, though the publicist-for-hire remains unable to explain the sudden enforcement of eBay policy against High Times, of which there were 600 completed transactions in just the past 30 days.

"I'm not an authorized spokesperson for eBay," says 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 such an alleged request.

"I've sold hundreds of these over the year, and then to say it violates policy, to me, it's hypocrisy," says another top-rated power seller, Garcia Santana, in Northern California. "This is selective discrimination. 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 his own theory about the timing: "the same time Meg Whitman is running for governor."

Whitman is the former eBay CEO and billionaire now vying for the Republican nomination to succeed the term-limited incumbent, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The state, which already allows medical marijuana sales, may have an initiative on the ballot in November to legalize and tax the plant, but Whitman has said that she's "100% not in favor of legalizing marijuana for any reason."

Neither quasi-eBay-spokesperson Kott nor Whitman's campaign had responded by press time to a reporter's questions about whether there was any connection between Whitman's campaign and eBay's High Times purge, but the policy has clear implications for a seller like Santana.

"I'm disabled," says Santana, who also sells classic issues of Rolling Stone and Mad magazine. "These High Times are highly collectible," he says. "I broke my back a few years ago, and this is how I make my living."

Despite sodomy laws still on the books in several states, including Virginia, eBay still allows the sale of hardcore gay sex magazines–- plus sex toys and bondage equipment in its adults-only area. "Yet," says Santana, "they pull this mainstream magazine."

Rap music, the lyrics of which often refer to violence, homophobia, and smoking "blunts," aka thick marijuana cigarettes, remains readily available on eBay–- as do early discs of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," a song widely believed to celebrate the use of LSD. "Are they going to ban the Beatles?" Santana wonders.

"We've been censored before in other countries," says High Times executive editor Dan Skye. "I've never seen anything like this. It kind of came out of nowhere."

Civil liberties authority John Whitehead says that eBay is free to set policies about what it sells, but the founder of the nonprofit Rutherford Institute is troubled about the allegation of official involvement in a ban.

"If they're doing it at the urging of the government," says Whitehead, "there's your lawsuit."

For Carwile–- a high-volume, high-service "Power Seller" who also moves magazines featuring naked women–- it's the ban on a legal product that's so bothersome. He points out that drug paraphernalia, such as a High Times "tobacco" grinder, is still available. And an eBay search for rolling papers turns up nearly 900 results.

That's a lot of hand-rolled tobacco.

"I used to sell antiques, but this was more profitable," says Carwile. "High Times is about 10 percent of my sales. It's just a few dollars lost to me, but I feel the concept behind it alarming."

High Times editor Skye wonders whether there's a new "sheriff" at eBay. "This," he says, "is kind of like a stone age–- forgive the pun–- mentality."

Read more on: ebayhigh times

49 comments

May I suggest a quick search of eBay for "High Times Magazine" before we get our undies in a bunch?

eBay SUCKS!

What kind of loser collects High Times magazines?

Time to boycot Ebay? and hey...think twice about voting for Meg!

Crozetette,
You haven't been edited, and I've asked our webmaster to look into why comments are disappearing. Typically if comments are removed, you'll see "deleted by moderator" under your anonymous name.
-- Lisa Provence

Gas Bag WEVE BEEN "EDITED" AGAIN FOR SPEAKIN THE TRUTH .CAN YOU BELIVE IT NO BAD WORDS, NOTHING ETHNIC OR RACIAL I JUST THINK THE "HOOK" CANT TAKE THE TRUTH AS WE THE PEOPLE SPEAK IT . TO BAD ! we must live above the 39Th parallel

There are several HT mags on Ebay now. http://tinyurl.com/yj7ghva

This is BS. High Times issues are being traded on eBay right now.

LOL I found an article linking back here from icmag.com. I couldn't believe it said Crozet - my home town on international cannagraphic!

people smoking magazines ??? I tried bananas but nevermagazines.

lisa lisa I think someone may (by mistake of course) hit some sort of delete key at the "HOOK" By the way I loved cult jam!!!

we made fark! Charlottesville is SOMEBODY NOW.....

Strayan:
This is a false listing. A researcher from Harvard (or perhaps BU, can't remember the exact institution off the top of my head) applied to get approval to fulfill this role, he was blocked by the DEA, who allow only one farm (at Ole Miss) grow cannabis, which it supplies as a medicine to a small number of people (while maintaining that cannabis is not a medicine).

More chains we can believe in, courtesy of the Obama Admin!

Maybe conservatives will regain power in 2012 and some old fashioned book burnings can start up.

Zero and the current administration wants to stick its nose in EVERYTHING! And yes .. The BIG HEAD does stick its nose in Ebay, too. TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT!

Well Saint707 if all of these tax woes could be cured with this type of regulatory regulation, and legalization, and if capitalism can be rewarded. Why not be for it? Especially if it is , as you say, inevitable. Then why not support it? Heck! you don't have to use it if you don't want to. After all it can't be worse than legalized alcohol.

Coulda sworn Cannabis Culture went straight online about a year ago losing 40k per month. I think it is much bigger than Meg Whitman or any of that, it is about control. I think they are truly looking at owning production in conjunction with tobacco companies. Heck Cali's deficit could be cut with just a bit of regulation. I am not for it though it is inevitable.

George Washington was a POT farmer :) .

The war on Marijuana is an utter joke .

Strayan ... I got the land and a tractor who knows how to grow pot LOL .

Dakota

Strayan, Dude or Dudette,

This is unreal, checked out the website. Couldn't believe it. This info needs to be seen by all, MPP, NORML, ETC... Nice post. MY guess is they want to extract the natural and try to manufacture synthetic versions of the natural extracts. HH&S already holds a patent for cannabinoids partnered with our own USG. The USG is always up to helping BIG BUSINESS not us THE PEOPLE. DEATH TO BIG PHARMA. Peace bruddahs and sistas.

eBay can do whatever they want. To use their service you have to agree to their rules. If you don't like it use another service or start your own.

Maybe put an ad in The Hook that you are selling old junk. I've got some MacWorld magazines from the 90's...maybe someone wants to buy those as well.

1st well written article I've read on the Hook....Good job. Its just a magazine. Ebay is just trash. I mean they let people (at one point) sell their souls, virginity, excess "private areas" and god know what else.

Corrupt ebay couldn't care less what you list and try to sell. They are always only about money. Someone must have complained. When I see some religious crap on there- old bibles, right wing crap, i complain about excessive shipping & handling or some other such red flag. eBay has a history of being anti-seller and loves to yank listings off, heck, they already made their fees when it's listed. No wonder other sites such as Alibris, Bonanzle, iOffer, etc are doinf so well. Legit sellers & buyers leave ebay in the thousands daily.

Hey Fat Fish .. FYI .. If Ebay yanks your auction, the listing fees are completely refunded .. It doesn't behoove Ebay to pull a listing. If, as you say, Ebay has a history of being anti-seller and loves to yank listings, they wouldn't be in business. That is the craziest assertion I have ever heard! What's wrong with listing Bibles and "religious crap?" If it offends you, then skip over it and go to the žbama posters and the left wing bullsh*t section.

Ridiculous! The guy wasn't selling illegal drugs, he was selling magazines. Nor has High Times been declared a publication not protected by the First Amendment, as for example child pornography is.
Sounds like some anally-retentive turkey at eBay had too much time on his hands

Hey, Hook thanks for yanking my comment . Another blow to free speech in C-Ville Was it the reference to the Bush Crime Family that did it?

you cant sell a original pre 1945 german picture if it has a swasticka on it but you can show the swasticka on the original money or stamps but not on anything else even if its original antique so your listing cant show the swa but the one right underneath it can show the swa if it is a stamp or money their policies conflict and as i have found out there is nothing you can do about it !

Hm, maybe someone could come up with an ALTERNATIVE to Ebay. Or did Ebay win the franchise wars?

/Now all restaurants are Taco Bell
/know how to use the three shells

Call the reporter and ask her why.

There has to be a reasonable explanation.

By the way, there is no freedom of speech in a privately owned web site or blog.

My personal expeirence has been.... comments are disappearing into thin air.... before being posted. I attempted to post a comment in the Bell-Strom thread this morning. It never showed up. So I submitted it again - word for word - and it showed up the second time immediately.

When will the cowards in America stand up to this Federal government and rid them once and for all?

MT, a different kind of loser than you...

I've been a registered "No Party" CA voter for the last series of elections, but I think it's time I revisit the Republican party just in time for the primary.

Every Republican's worst fear, after all, they are the only party to limit primary voting to those registered to the GOP. Not that I'm suggesting anyone join me in registering by May 4th, either.

Check out your CA county registrar/recorder for more info on how to register to vote and deadlines for upcoming elections.

BS! They sell Nitrous(whipit) crackers with balloons on eBay....far more dangerous than a magazine.

ââ?¬Å?the same time Meg Whitman is running for governor.”

bingo

The government??? No way it could have been the Obama administration...I mean, they're for freedom, right? Also, there's NO WAY they would ban books, we're talking about a democratic White House and Congress, after all.
I hope we freaking wake up before we have "government agents" going through our houses to make sure we don't have any objectionable material...
Throw all the bums out!!!

ebaY is a nazi organization that is unfriendly to customers, difficult to deal with, unresponsive to any inquiries or complaints, and does as they please at their whim. I'm a "member" and I won't buy or sell on there any more. And that chick who runs it wants to be California's governor? Just what we need. A fascist dictator in charge of the nation's largest state. Maybe she will be able to make the buses run on time. Sheesh.

NoahFect Most everyone in the homeland security,justice department etc. are Bush Crime Family hold overs. Thanks to the fanatical right wingers who are still in office and wont let the administration do its job without a filibuster screwing things up. They wont let appointments go through!The chains were already in place for over 7 1/2 years.

I don't know if it's because the goverment wanted them pulled, but let's face it: eBay is now picking and choosing whom they will let sell there and charging those they allow up the .... They've pushed out all the small sellers, they're pushing out the median seller, and now they're going to start picking off those higher volume sellers that they don't want there.

Dude, head over to http://www.OnlineAuction.com where you can sell them uninterupted. You can sell anything and everything for $8 a month, with no listing fees and no final value fees. Sure, you have to do a little self promotion, but it's worth it in the end to be able to sell what you want to, when you want to, and how you want to.

So what, Boon .. You can find the same holds true on Craig's list, in the personal sections of the newspapers, on bathroom walls, on the web, and on and on... You generally have to search for it to find it .. What category were you searching? .. The whole world is "just trash" if you want to look at it from that prospective.

Terrific article and raises lots of red flags.

Yes, the laws were overturned, but Virginia 'symbolically' refused to actually repeal them.

Makes me want to go get high

This is laughable considering the Federal Government is looking for people to:

"(1) grow, harvest, analyze, store and distribute GMP grade cannabis (marijuana) on large and small scales; (2) extract cannabis to obtain purified phytocannabinoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), analyze, and store; (3) prepare marijuana cigarettes and related products; and (4) distribute marijuana, marijuana cigarettes and cannabinoids"

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=13b43512c37e45befa6...

expose the hypocrisy

We cannot have people growing their own medicine and the US government has clearly said smoking pot makes people feel good ! WE CANT HAVE THAT !

Until big pharmaceuticals figure out how to require you to go to a doctor and get a script for marijuana that is trademarked and taxed we will continue the war on marijuana !

Besides , Hemp being an amazing renewable resource would take our dependence on foreign oil away and we certainly can't have that either .

The Insanity

Dakota

One day we'll look back on this time in history and laugh about marijuana being illegal much like the days of prohibition. Unfortunately, this is still probably a few generations away...:(

Despite sodomy laws still on the books in several states, including Virginia, eBay still allows the sale of hardcore gay sex magazines
***
Didn't the US Supreme Court overturn these laws with Lawrence v. Texas?

I think they are truly looking at owning production in conjunction with tobacco companies.