Friday, July 13, 2007

Pot growers are terrorists now

People who bought drugs used to be terrorist sympathizers; now pot growers are themselves terrorists. From Record-Searchlight, "Drug czar gives warning":
The nation's top anti-drug official said people need to overcome their "reefer blindness" and see that illicit marijuana gardens are a terrorist threat to the public's health and safety, as well as to the environment.

Dear John Walters,

1. Please stop calling people terrorists when they are not, by definition, terrorists. Misusing and overusing words causes them to lose meaning, which is a shame when it comes to words like "life" and "love" and "freedom" and "peace" as well as words like "terrorist" and "infidel" and "jihad" and "crusade." Don't pervert words, it's what caused or at least kindled most of history's problems.

2. Nobody plants corn in national forests. Nobody would grow marijuana in a national forest if it were legal. You can holler about drugs all you want - I mean, you're the drug czar, I understand - but don't go hollerin' about the environment when it is in fact prohibition that causes the most environmental degradation via illegal growing, nasty lab chemicals, interdiction efforts, etc.

3. Perhaps you believe that guns kill people, or perhaps you're more of the mind that people kill people. Either way, whether it's guns or people or people with guns or the devil that kills people, marijuana doesn't kill people. You cannot poison someone with weed; you cannot fashion a cannabis plant into a lethal weapon (unless maybe you strangle someone with a hemp rope?). Sorry. People operating high up in the black market tend to have guns, and are often criminals drawn by profit and undaunted by risk. It's prohibition, and it's currently your fault.

4. Be consistent, will you? Are pot smokers "a-motivated" stinky irresponsible bums or highly organized terrorists? I'm confused.

5. Re: "reefer blindness", again with the "I know you are but what am I."

6. Honestly, this whole thing is way below the belt so I'm just gonna go ahead and say "Your mom was a terrorist last night if ya know what I mean ZING/HIYO!!1" Not so much to insult you or the saintly woman who brought you into this world as to demonstrate how your own medicine tastes. Anyway, I'm 19 and writing in a student policy blog, what's your excuse?


Now go write your own letter, except make it to the editor, and try not to make any your mom jokes (it's very tempting).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bong User

In high school, I was all about tolerance and acceptance. Still am, except in high school I was the president of our diversity group. One thing we never discussed was the stereotypes surrounding those students who used drugs (mostly marijuana). It would have been a touchy subject, since we couldn't support their illegal and risky activities, but thinking back, it would have been appropriate to break down the general attitude towards our drug-using peers. Particularly early in high school, before people really got into experimenting, many people still seemed to hold at least one of the following attitudes:

  • "Despite popular notions, research has shown a link between frequent marijuana use and increased violent behavior. Research found that among youth, the incidence of physically attacking people, destroying property and stealing increased in proportion to the number of days marijuana was smoked in the past year." -ONDCP Media Campaign
  • "Regular marijuana users often have shortened attention spans, decreased energy and ambition, poor judgment, high distractibility, and impaired ability to communicate and relate to others." -Above the Influence
  • "Research shows that recurrent or frequent use of this drug suppresses the immune system, damages brain cells and decreases short-term memory, attention span and motivation. " -Drug Free America Foundation

And so on. Basically, ever since the DARE program, those of us who had not formerly known anyone who smoked marijuana maintained that stoners were violent, criminal, stupid, unhealthy people who made bad choices. As the story always goes, by the time high school rolled around, the vast majority of us met (or became) at least one person who defied the prohibition-fueled stereotype. This leads to a lifetime of confusion and questioning the government, which may later develop into certainty that the government is bonkers. Here is my story about that magic moment in 9th grade when I realized that reefer madness is in fact madness:

I was walking through the cafeteria. I was not feeling so hot for whatever reason, and when I passed by this table of senior boys, I felt terrified that they were going to somehow harass me. They mostly gravitated around this one kid who was notorious for smoking pot - I'll call him Bud. I could have walked by with my head down, but I felt so vulnerable that I felt the need to keep my eyes on them. Bud noticed, and asked me something along the lines of what was wrong.

I froze in my tracks, then found myself walking over so that I'd be at a conversational distance. As angsty as this sounds, no one had ever bothered asking me directly what was wrong. I wasn't really ready to answer the question, though, so I blew it. I told Bud, in a very anxious tone trying to be casual, that nothing was wrong. Well, Bud readily soothed me by comically saying what is now one of my favorite phrases: "Hey, don't worry about it. I ain't got no beef with you!" I was kind of stunned, so he continued with this random-assed compliment about how he noticed me and didn't really know me but thought it was cool how I stood out (I wore all black at the time). Outside of my friends, it was the first positive feedback I'd recieved for standing out.

Was Bud just trying to ensnare a new victim into his reefer den? No. Bud didn't say a damn word about bud to me, ever. I almost expected him to, so there was an awkward pause, and then I snapped out of it and said thanks.

In the spirit of transcending stereotypes, I have to make it clear that of course, not every high school stoner is the angel in a hemp necklace that Bud was. But it would be good to start a dialogue about the way regular student drug users are percieved, for two reasons:

1. A lot of kids in various stages of insecurity live up to the expectations set for them. If smoking weed makes them a delinquent, according to society, they may incorporate that role into their defenses. On the other hand, if delinquency always goes along with drug use, then troublemakers may take it for granted that they're "supposed" to use drugs.

2. The same reason you don't want anyone to be on the fringes of society for superficial reasons: they're valuable, and they're not so very different than non-drug users. They offer unique perspective as a group, if they choose to identify with that group, and their solutions could be applied to better society at large. Not to mention each individual offers unique perspective and talents.

By building strong bridges in high school and college, it will be easier for the next generation to rise above the propaganda haze and do something about the fact that undeserving people are being incarcerated for their choices. When our peers, friends, and possibly selves are being sent to jail it's not about high school cliques anymore. (And curse the evil time when it was in the least bit about high school cliques!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baltimore Sun et al, you slay me.

One war appears to be going well for the United States and its allies these days: the drug war.

-From "War on Drugs Said to Progress." Peruse this page for more media outlets that hosted the same article.

Sometimes I want to quit my job and school and everything I'm involved in so that I can devote my life to going around the nation's news headquarters with a disciplinary spray bottle. "NO! (squirt) Bad journalism! You do NOT just regurgitate statistics and heavily biased one-sided analyses! Bad, bad, bad!" Each "bad" would be punctuated, of course, with a squirt. I'd use water, mostly. I might employ some abrasive sort of acid for repeat offenders.

Alternatively, they do accept letters to the editor. There are so many points in the article to argue, such as how a decrease in the availability of cannabis isn't necessarily a good thing since it's the least harmful illegal drug and others will take its place, or how the supply and demand of illegal drugs hasn't gone down drastically or consistently enough to declare victory and never will, or how maybe it's not exactly appropriate to praise drug war policies in developing countries... Just choose a sentence and tear it to pieces. Or walk into your local news headquarters with a spray bottle, but don't say I sent you. ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bong Hits 4 Jesus Game an internet sensation!

Two weeks ago, I posted Bong Hits 4 Jesus - The Game. Since then, DARE Generation Diary has been on fire -- people love the game.

It was even featured on Amanda Congdon's ABC show:
The game was also linked by several big blogs (including Boing Boing, Huffington Post, and Wonkette), generating oodles of visits to the site.

So, why should you care?

SSDP is always in need of volunteers with unique skills. In return, SSDP can potentially expose your work to lots of people. In fact, BH4J The Game was created by a volunteer with just a few hours of time. But by collaborating with SSDP, he was able to spread his work to tens of thousands of people within a matter of a few days (check out the stats on the right), while helping SSDP educate people about the aftermath of a landmark Supreme Court case.

Do you have unique talents (flash animation, filmmaking, photography, music, etc) that can be used to help end the failed War on Drugs? If so, please contact me at

Monday, July 09, 2007

In Pot We Trust

Do you have a TV? Good.
Do you get Showtime? Good.

Tonight, at 8:30 p.m. EST, Showtime is premiering one of the best documentaries I've seen in a long time. In Pot We Trust presents a moving narrative about the ongoing fight to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest in the United States. Among many advocates and patients, it stars Aaron Houston (Marijuana Policy Project lobbyist and long time friend of SSDP), and Rhonda O'Donnell (the proud mother of SSDP's very own lobbyist, Tom Angell).

(Look for Tom's brief cameo - he's carrying an umbrella for his mom.)

Bloomberg has a great review:
Reefer madness can still be hazardous to your health.

That's the message of "In Pot We Trust," a Showtime documentary airing tonight at 8:30 p.m. New York time. The show makes a persuasive case that marijuana provides some patients a degree of relief they can't get from standard medications and should be legally available.

Yet many patients continue to face prosecution and even jail for smoking the palliative weed.


The documentary -- written, produced and directed by Star Price -- doesn't overlook the negative effects of toking. One memorable segment, featuring pro-legalization marchers chanting "We smoke pot and we like it a lot," includes an enthusiast who loses his train of thought in mid-sentence.

Such lapses, to be sure, aren't confined to stoners. We see snippets of congressional debate over medical marijuana legislation that makes you wonder what they're smoking on Capitol Hill. One sputtering pol rails that clerks at his grocery store have turned into dimwits from smoking marijuana, though as Houston points out such arguments have nothing to do with medical marijuana.

The show is sympathetic to the view expressed by writer Christopher Hitchens, who calls current drug policies "insane." He brands the war on drugs as "the last dying smell from the Nixon administration."

The war certainly isn't over. Reed brags that his raid "hurt somebody today." Houston, however, has the last word: "We're going to win eventually."
If you catch the show tonight, please come back to the blog and share your comments with us.

UPDATE: In Pot We Trust will be playing during the following times as well:

Showtime Too - Wed July 11th - 8:30 PM
Showtime - Sunday July 15th - 3:45 PM
Showtime Showcase - Tuesday July 17th - 2:30 PM
Showtime Showcase - Tuesday July 17th - 12:00 AM
Showtime - Wednesday July 18 - 12:00 AM

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More pics...

... from the SSDP Strategy Summit.

(More pics, stories, and perhaps video, to come...)