Wednesday, November 09, 2005

12 inches of...

Remember Snow, the one hit wonder from 1993? He had that song, Informer. I always thought his name was a comment on his skin color, but maybe I was wrong....

It seems some parents are all freaked out that their kids (or worse, other people's kids) are wearing t-shirts with a picture of a snowman on it!
“This is part of a phenomena in which parents have no idea what their children are exposed to. There is a code that children are aware of but not parents,” says Sue Rusche, president and CEO of the anti-drug group National Families In Action.
Waaaa! I can't stand it when some people bemoan a subculture, whatever it is, that has codes and adds meaning to everyday items. If you don't get it, shut up or join in! Youth subcultures are particularly vulnerable to adult scorn and it's a shame that groups like Rusche's outfit and others continue to reach for simple answers to the very complex questions about how to help our youth make wise and informed decisions about drug use.

SSDP believes that parents with open and honest relationships with their kids will have children that make wise decisions about drugs, regardless of what's on their shirts.

Yes, these shirts are a bootleg comment on Young Jeezy's former profession -- cocaine dealer. But so what? Now, he's a very successful rapper who presumably makes his living legally. I think it's a wonderful American success story!

Unfortunately, this guy didn't get the memo or the paper. A few days after the above story ran in newspapers across the county, he was arrested as part of a sweep of "some of Tampa’s toughest neighborhoods."

But we shouldn't judge a guy too harshly who gets caught breaking the law while wearing a shirt glorifying breaking the law. Apparently, not even all of Tampa law enforcement could be bothered to read.
"One officer wondered why so many cameras were focused on the drug suspect. “I thought, ‘this is a little early for Christmas clothing.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Drug Policy Reform Family Reunion

The SSDP staff and other contributors to DGD, along with hundreds of other people who realize that the War on Drugs is causing more harm than good, will converge at the International Conference on Drug Policy Reform this week in Long Beach, CA. Check this space frequently for LIVE updates from the conference. ;-)

photo from the 2003 DPA conference

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you there and hoping to stay in touch with the rest of you through the blog.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Why Get Involved with SSDP?

A little over two years ago I attended my first Hemp Fest at the University of Rhode Island. I had just graduated from high school and was beginning my first semester at the Community College of RI. I willingly admit my reasons for attending the HempFest were primarily selfish. I had no real knowledge of Hemp or even the War on Drugs (despite years of D.A.R.E.), and this was simply a day of relaxation, free musical performances, vendors, and the strong possibility of meeting others who share similar "interests".

I remember seeing a red stop sign sticker saying STOP THE DRUG WAR. It was the first time I had ever heard those words together in a sentence and my first thought was "Why would anyone want to stop the war on drugs, drugs are bad. Marijuana is one thing, but why would anyone support the use of hard drugs?” I honestly thought it was stupid.

I was not even aware that speakers were part of the day's events until Micah Diagle and Justin Holmes began speaking. They described the mission of SSDP and touched on facts concerning the war on drugs that I had never heard anywhere before and I actually started listening to what they had to say. I was shocked to hear about medical marijuana patients like Susan Pfiel, a paraplegic patient who was handcuffed to her bed for using medical marijuana in California, a state that had passed a medical marijuana law. Hearing about the disproportionate incarceration rates of minorities compared to whites disturbed me, as did the aspects of Plan Colombia, the HEA Drug Provision, the amounts of tax-dollars spent to wage this war, and the violation of constitutional rights, something that I had experienced on several occasions with police officers but never knew that I could do anything about it. SSDP seemed like something I needed to get involved in. An opportunity to learn about the political process, the war on drugs, the people it effects, and what other options could be executed to decrease drug use in our country.

After that day I began educating myself about SSDP and the War on Drugs and decided I wanted to get involved. My outlook had been changed. I realized this was not about marijuana; it’s not a bunch of "stoners" hanging out and talking about what their favorite pot strain is. It can become very aggravating when despite the clear mission statement of SSDP, some people refuse to see the group as anything more than advocates of recreational drug use. I cannot emphasize the importance of discrediting this ignorant assumption. In fact the drugs themselves are hardly ever a topic of concern. Rather it is about the laws concerning those drugs and what role they play in our society. It is about non-biased factual education on these drugs' negative effects, not scare tactics and propaganda. It is about people all over the world who are impacted by a war that cannot be won. The very idea that it is possible to rid the world or even a single country of certain chemical substances by incarcerating human beings and eradicating ecosystems is foolish and more destructive than any of these illegal substances could ever be.

So now I have started the first SSDP chapter at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire. FPC joins the hundreds of schools that have recognized SSDP as a campus club and so far we have received great reception from faculty, students, and even the campus ministry. Through SSDP I have made great friends, received a scholarship to attend the Drug Policy Alliance International Reform Conference in Long Beach CA, and rollerbladed 48.9 miles in the name of justice.

So if you find yourself interested in SSDP or unsure about its mission make sure you research the organization and also the war on drugs. Gain a clear understanding of what is going on in YOUR name and what you can do to change it. SSDP deals with hundreds of issues and I am sure there is one you care about regardless of your political views.

Parents: The Anti-Drug?

I saw this on Saturday in the NY Post. (Yes, I read that rag...for fun, and of course, for the gossip!) but it occured to me that if even this parent (John Timoney, Miami Chief of Police, formerly of the Philly PD and NYPD) can't keep his kids from the lure of illicit drug profits, then what chances do average, everyday Moms and Dads have to keep their kids off drugs?

And yet, even though this tough-on-crime, law and order-type has had not one, but two "druggie" kids, he still never gives up on trying to help them through their difficult problems with drugs. According to the NY Post article...

Sean drifted away from his family years ago, sources said.

But his father never gave up on him and won't give up on him now, a former NYPD chief and close friend of the family told The Post.

The friend recalled when [daughter] Christine was in her mid-teens and addicted to heroin.

"John saved Christine numerous times, getting her to hospitals or rehab. His response never wavered. He always responded to help her, relapse after relapse.

"It became more debilitating and frustrating for him to respond, but time after time, he went to her side. Fatherly love was much stronger than his tough law-enforcement image.

"He knew, or hoped, that age would rescue her. But he had to keep her alive through her teens to get there," the friend said.

The article goes on to say that Christine is now doing well, having graduated college, become engaged and is close to her family.

I certainly don't mean to jump on top of what is clearly a difficult family drama. But I do think it's imporant for all parents -- particularly those who are being influenced by the barrage of ads telling them that it's their fault if they don't stop their kids from using drugs -- to stop and think about how much control over their kids' actions they really have.

Finally, when faced with the choice of abandoning his child to the legal system or standing by him, Chief Timoney chose to do whatever he could to help. Parents across the country should take note!

People are talking about this over on TalkLeft.

We see you, White House!

Thanks to all the visitors and contibuters from around the U.S. (and the world) that have made the recent launch of the DARE Generation Diary a huge success!

And special thanks to the Executive Office of the President for reading our blog today! I would speculate that the visitor was a young intern with the Office of National Drug Contol Policy, attempting to finally find some accurate information regarding our nation's drug policy. Welcome aboard, son!

Or perhaps it was even drug czar Johnny Walters himself, poking around to see what his favorite student organization is up to:

The last time I saw his Czarness (at the 2004 D.A.R.E. National Conference), he was preaching that the most crucial job DARE officers could do is to help the feds combat local efforts to legalize medical marijuana.

DARE to keep kids out of grandma's medicine cabinet?? Get real, Johnny.

Here's an idea: DARE to stop wasting taxpayer money on battling the sick and dying. Instead, spend it on something useful like... oh... treatment for addicts or effective drug education.

Up next: belt and scarf prohibition?

Apparently, a dangerous "new" trend is sweeping the nation:

Experts say parents should be aware of a potentially deadly practice -- called "the choking game" -- that some children are using to get high.

Children as young as 10 years old have participated in "the choking game," so they can feel a rush in their brains before passing out from a lack of oxygen.

Kids use their hands -- or sometimes anything including belts or scarves -- to choke themselves or each other until unconscious.

Oh, the crazy things those youth will do these days...

The biggest tipoff will be changes in mood, attention span and grades because they are causing very small subtle brain damage every time they do this, he said.

"Anytime you see a kid change, you need to take it seriously," he said. "There is something going on that shouldn't be."

Oh, really? I thought adolescents undergo drastic changes all the time due to puberty. Turns out, it's really because of all the simulated drug experiences those little rascals are engaging in. Silly me.