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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Marijuana: Like a Bullet Through Your Brain

posted by on June 18 at 16:09 PM

Over at the drug czar’s blog, the hyperbole is pretty unbelievable. The post at the top of the page today is about a report called Marijuana: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette?

“The good news is that in recent years teen marijuana use has declined. The bad news is that 10.7 million teens still report that they have used marijuana. The worst news is that teens who use the drug are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with the bullets of addiction, accidents, crime and mental illness in the chamber,” noted Califano. “With all the evidence now available, simple prudence requires parents to prevent their children from using marijuana. Those parents who fail to do so are uninformed or irresponsible, or both.”

Pot may be more potent than it used to be, but not by much, and people smoke less of it to get the same effect. But does anyone believe that getting baked is suddenly akin to putting a gun to your head? People have been smoking pot for thousands of years; this is not an emerging threat. If pot were so dangerous, we would have already seen the marijuana-related crime, accidents, and insanity.


National Institute on Drug Abuse

The language isn’t just hyperbolic, it’s intentionally misleading. This blog comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and U.S. drug-control policy is clear: Drugs are illegal. We spend tens of billions a year arresting and locking up people who break the law, yet we under-fund treatment programs so they run month-long waiting lists.

But the posts on the front page of the blog manage to avoid the words “police,” “jail,” and “prison,” and they gratuitously repeat the word “treatment.” According to the federal government’s own findings, treatment has proven more effective at reducing drug use than jail. Nevertheless, the drug czar’s office is using sensationalized reports that illustrate the need for treatment—kid are using drugs!—to justify a bloated budget that emphasizes police, jails, and prisons.

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The only self-harm that occurs is the box of nutragrain bars that I just flew through with my munchies

Posted by Non | June 18, 2008 4:20 PM

Would that all the administraton played Russian Roulette that way, with at least four bullets, maybe more, depending on how many bullets *accidents* count for.
But they've forgotten the biggest threat of all *the munchies*. Given our ever fattening youth, that's a pretty credible threat.

Posted by kinaidos | June 18, 2008 4:33 PM

"With all the evidence now available, simple prudence requires parents to prevent their children from using marijuana. Those parents who fail to do so are uninformed or irresponsible, or both."

...Or merely human and therefore capable only of controlling the behaviors of their kids while in their presence, if then.

Posted by Bison | June 18, 2008 4:39 PM

I hate silly drug reporting as much as the next person, but it was a metaphor. Not a bad one, either.

Posted by w7ngman | June 18, 2008 4:40 PM

Weird how the graph shows sharp increases almost exactly coinciding with the Carter (1976-80) and the Clinton (1992-2000) administrations, and gradual decreases during the Reagan/Bush I and Bush II eras. I can't believe these figures are real; they've either been heavily jiggered or the Republicans change the standards or survey more aggressively to try to show declines due to the billions they throw at the "war" on drugs.

Posted by rob | June 18, 2008 4:48 PM

The whole "war" on drugs has evolved into something that much more resembles the military-industrial complex than sane public health policy.

The people who most gain from the current approach can't afford to give up a millimeter of ground for fear of their whole house of cards falling down. To expect a rational approach that minimizes harm and gets the government out of your personal life is unrealistic.

The public doesn't want to pay for treatment, but curiously, they seem willing to pay for incarceration. Meanwhile prohibition supports prices and encourages the violence that comes with hard core organized crime.

Too bad we seem so unable to have an intelligent and honest conversation about how to deal with the issues--since people will take drugs that make them feel good, no matter what the law says.

Posted by Westside forever | June 18, 2008 4:58 PM

#5, perhaps it's more that the decline in marijuana usage between 1980 and 1992 has more to do with the increased availability of cocaine during the Reagan administration?

Posted by w7ngman | June 18, 2008 5:00 PM

So is this why Canada's GDP is growing THREE times as fast as the USA GDP is and they're more efficient?

Sure. Uh huh. Tell me another fib ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 18, 2008 5:08 PM

Goddamn, I always thought the Class of '79 were a bunch of stoners, and now I have proof!

What was going on in the 80s, though? Don't tell me "Just Say No" actually had an effect. I was there, and I don't think it did.

Posted by litlnemo | June 18, 2008 5:12 PM

Cocaine use among high school seniors DID peak in 1985:

Posted by Bison | June 18, 2008 5:23 PM

"People have been smoking pot for thousands of years..."

Really? God, I wish they'd teach this shit in school. I'm way behind...

Posted by James | June 18, 2008 8:19 PM

I'm sure the drug czar would rather have kids on Ritalin and other "safe" prescription drugs. Kids don't kill themselves using those drugs, oh no no no.

Posted by robot2501 | June 18, 2008 9:02 PM


And big Pharma can't patent weed...

Back during the whole WTO thing, a bunch of my friends were arguing that America is a police state, and I thought they were wrong (or at least premature). I'm eating those words with a fork and spoon right now, lemme tell ya....

Please remember this post the next time I rail against tolls and the new tracking technology that goes with them, or get mad about the burgeoning nanny state, because it's all of a piece....

Posted by Mr. X | June 18, 2008 11:41 PM

I wonder how much the increase seen in 1992 had to do with the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Snoop and Dre made smoking weed cool again.

Posted by Micah | June 19, 2008 9:52 AM

Back in the 70's/80's it seemed that everybody under 30 something, smoked pot, or had smoked pot, etc. I remember getting my car fixed and the mechanic sparking one up and going over the bill. If it was every going to be legalized that was the time. Right now use, is marginalized to teens, college kids, music/art people etc, so the general public doesn't care one way or the other. Basically, pot isn't great for you but it isn't this "menace" or worth the tax dollars that drug czar would have us believe. If pot were to be legalized it would be either due to a major increase in usage and the gov't just gives in, or somewhere down the road the Fed gov't becomes totally insolvent and needs to eliminate useless gov't spending - pot is legalized and taxed. I'm betting on the latter sometime in the next 30 years.

Posted by Tom | June 20, 2008 5:03 AM

When one considers that marijuana was used to pay taxes prior to 1900, is the least toxic of substances (caffine will actually kill you if you take to much-you actually can't "OD" on pot) and this all stems back to restricting hemp production and turning hemp to paper (think Hearst Dupont Anslinger(the first drug czar) I believe back in the 40's. Read Peter McWilliams "Ain't nobody's Businees if you do-The absurdity of consensual crimes in a free society for more info on the real story on how pot became illegal.

Their is also rising data that it is the over 40 white-collar workers who are actually the bioggest consumer's not kids-I can speak to that personally:)

Bottom line the "War on Drugs" is like the "War on Terror" both are things you can't "win" and waging a war brings all kinds of abuses to the system. Do I want everybody smoking crack or shooting heroin-no. But as i said before-as long as your not hurting anybody else's person or property-AIN'T NOBODY'S BUSINESS IF YOU DO!

Posted by Adam | June 20, 2008 5:23 AM

When marijuana is targeted and becomes hard to get, meth use and production goes up.

Posted by margoharris | June 20, 2008 11:58 AM

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