YOUR GOVERNMENT WANTS YOU TO LIE TO YOUR KIDS
The Drug Czar's New Anti-Drug Parenting Tips Blot Out the Truth With A
Heavy Dose of Fear.
From time to time, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
(aka the drug czar's office) sends out friendly emails called "Anti-Drug
Parenting Tips." The latest, sent July 14, urges parents to talk to their
kids about drugs and includes a link to a set of guidelines for "making a
case against pot."
Apparently, our government believes that the way to keep teens off drugs is
to lie to them. If parents stick to the White House script (
http://www.theantidrug.com/SchoolsOut/case_against.asp ) what they will
teach their kids is that they can't trust a thing adults tell them. Let's
examine a few of the White House's talking points:
If your kid says: "Marijuana is a natural plant; how harmful could it be?"
The White House wants you to say: "Smoking marijuana is at least as bad as
smoking cigarettes, and you already know how dangerous tobacco is to your
The truth: Actually, there is incontrovertible evidence that smoking
tobacco increases your risk of getting cancer of the lungs, throat and
other tissues that come into contact with smoke. But, despite decades of
trying, no such link has ever been established with marijuana. Indeed, in
one 60,000-patient study, marijuana smokers had lower rates of lung cancer
than nonsmokers did. How can that be? In part, it's probably because
marijuana smokers typically smoke a lot less than cigarette smokers. But
there is also abundant evidence that marijuana's active components, called
cannabinoids, suppress tumor growth. A review of recent research in the
October 2003 issue of the journal Nature Reviews stated flatly,
"cannabinoids kill tumor cells," adding that "cannabinoids have a favorable
drug safety profile." Unlike tobacco, marijuana use has never been shown to
increase mortality rates.
If your kid says: "Marijuana is not addictive."
The White House wants you to say: "Sixty percent of teens currently in drug
treatment are dependent on marijuana. More youth enter drug treatment with
a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit
The truth: According to the government's own figures, most of those teens
in treatment for "marijuana dependence" are there because they were
arrested. They were caught with a joint, offered a choice of treatment or
jail, and - big surprise - chose treatment. In other words, we arrest kids
for smoking marijuana, force them into treatment and then use those
treatment admissions as "proof" that marijuana is addictive. Somewhere,
George Orwell is smiling. In reality, marijuana is about as addictive as
coffee. The Institute of Medicine, in a report commissioned by the White
House, noted, "Although few marijuana users develop dependence, some do.
But they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs
(including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears less
severe than dependence on other drugs."
If your kid says: "Marijuana only makes you mellow."
The White House wants you to say: "Not always. Sometimes it makes people
violent. Kids who use marijuana weekly are four times more likely to engage
in violent behavior than those who don't."
The truth: This statement is so blatantly, deliberately misleading that it
should make even Karl Rove cringe. Yes, a tiny percentage of people -
mostly individuals with preexisting mental illness - become disturbed or
violent when they use marijuana, just as a few people react badly to any
drug. But - despite the attempt in the second sentence above to confuse
cause with effect - overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that
marijuana does not cause violence. A review published last year in the
journal Addictive Behaviors noted, "Alcohol is clearly the drug with the
most evidence to support a direct intoxication-violence relationship. ...
Cannabis reduces the likelihood of violence during intoxication." Teens
aren't morons. Those who haven't smoked marijuana probably know people who
do, and have seen with their own eyes that marijuana does not make users
violent, crazed or criminal. If adults claim it does, their kids will laugh
at them - and should.
If your kid says: "If I smoke marijuana, I'm not hurting anyone else."
The White House wants you to say: "Marijuana trafficking is a big,
international, often violent business. The people behind it are criminals.
If you're smoking pot, you could be hurting other people."
The truth: Once again, teens aren't morons. Most are bright enough to
understand that the reason the marijuana trade is in the hands of
sometimes-violent criminals is because it's illegal. If marijuana
production and sales were brought into a legally regulated system, the
violence and criminality now associated with it would disappear instantly,
and any teen whose IQ exceeds their age can figure that out - even if
federal officials can't.
It is increasingly clear that U.S. government anti-drug efforts have
nothing to do with any sort of rational strategy for keeping kids out of
danger and everything to do with an ideological crusade - a crusade that is
utterly divorced from science, logic or common sense. And when zealotry
replaces truth and honesty, it's our kids who will pay the price.