Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ganja brownies and a gat, Mr. Mayor?

You may be familiar with Dan Savage, especially if the word "Santorum" conjours up images of a frothy love mixture, rather than a distinguished U.S. Senator. (If it conjours images of both, you should probably go wash your brain out with soap.)

Well, Savage recently outdid himself. In response to an idiotic prohibitionist proposal by Seattle's mayor, Savage went into the lions den and came out laughing.
If the mayor's proposed regulations are adopted, club owners would be required to prevent patrons from carrying drugs into their place of business—prevent. Not attempt to prevent, not do their best to prevent, but prevent—period, full stop. If drugs are found on someone inside a club, the club would be shut down.


Reading the proposed new regulations I wondered if the same rules applied at City Hall. The mayor was asking club owners to "prevent" people from entering nightclubs with drugs—okay, fine. But if the city expects a club owner to keep his place of business drug-free, surely we can expect the same of the mayor himself. So I decided to conduct a little experiment: I would attempt to enter City Hall with drugs. If I got inside, I would use drugs in City Hall. If I used drugs in City Hall, I would offer drugs to other people in City Hall.
And, yes, the crazy sonuvabitch pulled it off!
I offered pot cookies to everyone in the office.

"I have a bunch in my bag," I slurred. "Really good ones. Want one?"

They all laughed, but it was clear that they didn't doubt that I had drugs on me and in me. I was obviously stoned—lingering in Bichsel's doorway for what seemed like hours for no real reason, keeping up with the banter but a beat or two behind. I offered everyone pot cookies a second time. More laughs.
Now, of course, SSDP does not encourage folks to walk around a government building stoned out of their gourd carrying a box of contraband and a threatening-looking gun replica (yes, he brought in a fake gun too). Clearly, Mr. Savage's exploits probably would not have been nearly as successful had he not had a press pass and celebrity status.

Still... he makes a hilarious point.

Read more about his hijinx here.

Drug warriors agree their ads are laughable

Jacob Sullum at Reason's Hit & Run spots a press release from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America actually touting the fact that their famous "this is your brain on drugs" ad has been widely spoofed since it first aired in 1987.
The “Fried Egg” TV message was so popular that it was satirized and spoofed on T-shirts, records labels, posters, and even on Saturday Night Live.
Note to PDFA: when everyone finds your ad about a serious issue like teen drug abuse to be nothing more than laughable, you've failed.

Drug warriors: Making reformers' jobs easy since (at least) 1987.

Ken Starr Seeks Supreme Court Review of "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case

Ken Starr, the former special prosecutor who helped bring us the Clinton impeachment, has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking reversal of an appeals court decision that upheld a high school student's constitutional right to display a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner during a school authorized activity. Starr, an admitted "Starbucks addict" who does not have any "serious hobbies that really engage me," has taken the case pro bono on behalf of top-20 law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where Starr is of counsel.

The dispute began in January 2002. The Olympic Torch relay was making its way through Juneau, Alaska and the powers that be at Juneau-Douglas High School decided to release students from school to watch the historic event. A handful of lunatic troublemakers skipped school and waited across the street until the television cameras came by, at which point they unfurled a 20-foot long banner emblazoned with, oh yes, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."

As Starr explains in his Supreme Court petition: "'Bong' is a slang term for drug paraphernalia commonly used for smoking marijuana. A 'bong hit' is slang for inhaling marijuana from such a device. The term 'bong hits' is widely understood by high school students and others as referring to smoking marijuana."

If the Supreme Court does accept review of the case, it would have broad implications for students' free speech rights generally, but especially with respect to drug policy issues. "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" was just a prank, but Starr's petition urges the Court to give school administrators a great deal of discretion in silencing drug policy discussion in schools: "In view of the devastating impact illegal drug use has both on students and the learning environment, schools should be afforded significant latitude in discouraging substance abuse. Part of maintaining a drug-free environment is ensuring that students are not confronted with inconsistent messages, particularly while school is in session."

The Ninth Circuit decision in favor of the student is here and the Petition before the Supreme Court is here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Advertising failure

Quick. Walk to your nearest news stand before USA Today sells out. You've GOT to see this.
Page A4 and A5, USA Today (8/29/06)
Click for a larger image

Today, USA Today ran a story entitled, "Anti-drug advertising campaign a failure, GAO report says," which exposes the fact that the ad campaign actually INCREASES the chances of teen drug use. On the opposing page, they ran one of the very same ads. How apropos!

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is having a bad month. First, a senate subcommittee recommended cutting their paychecks, citing "lethargy" and "unresponsiveness" resulting in an "unnecessary waste of time and energy." Then, on Friday, the Government Accountabilty Office released a report on the ONDCP's anti-drug propaganda campaign, which finds “no evidence of a positive outcome” and “significant unfavorable effects,” including that “greater exposure to the campaign was associated with weaker anti-drug norms and increases in the perceptions that others use marijuana.” (And this is not to mention the "biting" anti-drug ad parody featuring footage from "Snakes on a Plane," which hit YouTube last week.)

And today, USA Today poured salt on the wound.

The ONDCP spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money - that's YOUR money - to place this full page ad in USA Today... only to have the nearby article rip its credibility to shreds. Of course, this begs the question: How could USA Today justify taking hundreds of thousands taxpayer dollars to run an ad that they know will increase teen drug use?

Perhaps the folks in USA Today's advertising department saw a similar jab at the ONDCP that appeared in a popular music magazine called "Notes on the Scene" this summer. Now, I wonder who made that mock ad...

Action: Click here to help ensure that the government stops wasting YOUR MONEY on these counterproductive ads.

Drug War keeps lots of people in business

Today's New York Times has a short and sweet letter responding to John Tierney's excellent column on marijuana policy from a few days ago.

Sanity on Marijuana

Published: August 29, 2006

To the Editor:

“Lighting Up in Amsterdam,” by John Tierney (column, Aug. 26) is an intellectual breath of fresh air.

A half million arrests a year: that’s hard to take, but it does keep lots of people employed, on both sides of the law.

Gerald M. Sutliff
Bakersfield, Calif., Aug. 26, 2006

Monday, August 28, 2006 Speakeasy now open

Stop the Drug War (DRCNet) just launched an entirely-revamped website, complete with a kickass "Speakeasy" blog system that lets readers start their own "soapbox" blogs.

Get blogging, whydoncha?

Senators to Drug Czar: "You don't deserve a paycheck"

The Senate Appropriations Committee slammed the Drug Czar and his staff for "lethargy" and lack of communication, and moved to cut their salaries in half last month.

From the committee's report of H.R. 5576, the 2007 Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act:
The Committee recommends an appropriation of $11,500,000 for ONDCP's salaries and expenses. This amount is $11,809,000 below the budget request and $15,139,000 below the fiscal year 2006 enacted level.

The Committee is extremely displeased with the performance of ONDCP staff regarding their communication with the Committee and their responsiveness to congressional inquiries. ONDCP's lethargy and the inadequate information provided severely impacts the ability of the Committee to conduct its oversight and make budgetary decisions in a timely manner. This kind of unresponsiveness on the part of ONDCP results in an unnecessary waste of time and energy; numerous follow up communications are required in almost every instance. The Committee is particularly concerned that ONDCP has attempted to prevent the Committee from meeting with the directors of ONDCP programs. Therefore the Committee has reduced the salaries and expenses budget to more closely reflect actual performance.
Lethargy, eh? Sounds like ONDCP staffers have been smoking some of the evil marijuana they claim causes laziness and amotivation... ZING!

Link (search for "office of national drug control policy")

Government anti-drug ads are a waste

CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 293-4414 or tom//at//

GAO: Government Anti-Drug Ads Don’t Work

Congressional Auditors Say Budget Should be Slashed

WASHINGTON, DC – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruled on Friday that the White House’s $1.2 billion anti-drug ad campaign is not only ineffective, but encourages some teens to try drugs. The GAO, Congress’s auditing arm, recommended that funding for the ads be cut despite President Bush’s request for another $120 million to produce more ads next year.

“Young people see right through the government’s offensive propaganda campaign,” said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “We hate being lied to, and these ads clearly stretch the truth. It’s no wonder the government’s efforts have a boomerang effect.”

Some of the popular ads, produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), claim that using marijuana supports terrorism, causes people to shoot their friends in the face, run over little girls on bikes, and become pregnant.

The GAO, in examining the methodology of a federally-funded long-term evaluation of the ads, found “no evidence of a positive outcome” and “significant unfavorable effects,” including that “greater exposure to the campaign was associated with weaker anti-drug norms and increases in the perceptions that others use marijuana.”

The ads have also been criticized as ineffective and counterproductive by the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Republican Study Committee, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Taxpayers Union, and Citizens Against Government Waste, among others.

After the federally-funded study repeatedly showed unfavorable results, ONDCP cut funding for the evaluation and prevented pending reports from being released.

SSDP hosts an online action system where citizens can ask Congress to cut funding for the ads. The group recently ran a parody of an ONDCP ad in a popular music magazine, highlighting the ineffectiveness of the government campaign. See for more information.

The GAO report can be viewed at

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a national organization with college and high school chapters, is committed to providing education on harms caused by the War on Drugs, working to involve youth in the political process, and promoting an open, honest, and rational discussion of alternative solutions to our nation's drug problems.

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Here's SSDP's spoof anti-drug ad featuring footage from "Snakes on a Plane":