well, after many, many moons of silence, i've decided to post something. it might as well be controversial, since no one is probably going to read this anyway. today's topic is substance abuse. a very broad topic, i know. first, let it be known that yes, i do smoke weed on occasion. but i do not consider myself to be a drug abuser. i can live my life perfectly contendedly never picking up a joint. i use it merely as a tool for relaxation, the same as anyone who drinks a few beers on the weekend or smokes a cigarette after a meal. just thought i'd get that out of the way.
what i'd like to rant about today is the sheer silliness of the current anti-drug campaign (a lot of this could apply to several other "anti-" campaigns, but that's a seperate rant), specifically those targeting marijuana. most all of them that i see deal with supposed bad consequences of smoking weed. this is entirely the wrong way to go about things. first of all, who are we trying to educate? 13-18 year olds, correct? when has anyone that age cared about the consequences of their actions? i challenge anyone to find a high school pot smoker, show them some sad scene about someone getting hurt after someone got high, and have them say "oh no, i never knew smoking weed would hurt anyone, i'm gonna stop right now!" no. that's not gonna happen. this is the thing: they don't care. the problem is that ad-makers are attacking the issue from the position that if kids just knew how harmful weed was, they wouldn't use it. that's bull. kids don't care about things like that. in fact, most of them know that abusing weed has harmful effects. but it doesn't change their mind about lighting up.
next i'd like to focus on a couple of commercials individually. first, there's one that says something to the effect of "[insert statistic here] percent of teens involved in automobile accidents tested positive for marijuana." that's about as misleading as it gets. first of all, let's look at our target group: teens. according to my own exhaustive study (asking my friends), around 90% of teens smoke weed on occasion, and about 90% of teens have gotten in a wreck at some point. so this is basically taking two unrelated statistics and correlating them with no basis for comparison. add to this the fact that a single joint's worth of marijuana can stay in a person's system for around a month, so there is not really any direct correlation between marijuana being present in a person's system during a wreck, and that person being under the influence of said marijuana. just because jimmy smoked a bowl a month ago then got in a wreck last weekend doesn't mean the marijuana is to blame. most likely it's because jimmy is a 17-year-old inexperienced driver who thinks he's invincible and can do anything he wants. all that without any chemical influence.
the second ad is one where there's a couple of kids smoking up in their dad's study. they make some jokes, then one picks up a gun that was in the dad's desk drawer and accidentally shoots the other kid, obviously not thinking the gun was loaded. okay, what kind of a deranged, psychotic father leaves a fully loaded handgun within easy access of his teenage son? hello, in real life that dad would have been in serious trouble for that, probably arrested and had his kids taken away. but no, let's blame the weed, because obviously if they hadn't been high, the gun wouldn't have been left in a convenient spot and the kids wouldn't have had even the slightest temptation to play with it. come on.
finally, i'd like to comment on one commercial that actually got it right. this is the only one out of hundreds i've seen that actually makes you stop and think. there's this kid talking about his older brother, telling about how he's never gotten in trouble, never gotten arrested, never done other drugs, never gotten in trouble with a girl, never gone to college, etc. all this while walking down to the basement. when he gets down there, you see a thirty-something man smoking a joint, and the kid says "yeah, he's never really done much of anything." now that is dead-on accurate. somebody finally hit the nail on the head: weed abusers don't hurt people. they don't really do anything at all. that is the problem with abusing marijuana: not hurting others directly, but simply not living. this ad should replace all of the other ones. it is simple, to the point, and very thought-provoking.
so this leads us to the question: why is marijuana illegal? disregarding all the propaganda coming from the "war on drugs" administration, consequences of smoking weed are clearly less harmful (in the sense of people getting physically hurt/killed) than those of alcohol. yet alcohol remains legal, despite the fact that millions of people are killed each year by drunk drivers. why? because history has shown that making alcohol illegal was a very bad idea. there was far more rampant crime and killing during prohibition than there ever has been during other times. it has become obvious that the problem is not that people drink. people are going to drink no matter what, whether it's legal or not. the problem is that some people drink and then do stupid things, like drive a car. so the law system changed to punish people who abuse alcohol and hurt others, not the millions of people who drink a beer to relax and have a good time. why can the same reasoning not be applied to marijuana? although i don't believe there are even close to as many deaths linked to marijuana as there are to alcohol, i'm sure that there are instances where it happens. in that case, punish harshly, just as with a dwi charge. but let the rest of the crowd alone, if they're not causing trouble.
in conclusion, i'm not here to say that weed is good for you. i fully believe that it is harmful when abused and that a life spent eternally stoned is pretty much wasted time. but that's not the point. the point is, anything can be okay in moderation, but can be very harmful if abused. aspirin is known to be deadly taken at high doses, yet you can freely buy it anywhere, because lawmakers assume people are going to use common sense and not abuse the drug. likewise, caffeine is known to cause heart problems and insomnia, yet it is allowed on the market because people are assumed to have enough common sense not to drink a twelve-pack a day. why should marijuana be any different? why can we not regulate it, similar to tobacco, and legalize it, so that thousands of non-violent offenders don't take up valuable space in our prisons each year for essentially sitting around doing nothing?