media campaign

I found the link for the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign listening to the Scientific American podcast (sa_podcast_060216.mp3) where Bruce Merkin of the Marijuana Policy Project was interviewed. This was fascinating. He and SA staffer, Steve Mersky discussed the British classification for marijuana use. The Brits downgraded marijuana to the lowest classification (C) of illicit drug in 2004. Then worrying over reports about the dangers of marijuana, set a committee of scientists to study reports of the effects. The committee reaffirmed the government’s decision to downgrade marijuana.

Merkin, who gave the link (above), says the difference between the U.S. and British policy is that the Brits have chosen to be guided by science while the U.S. has clung to mythology. The Brits recognize that marijuana is not harmless, but that its harms are relatively limited. “In the U.S. marijuana has been stigmatized in such a way as to make U.S. policy impervious to data.”

The media campaign is serious, but flawed by this mythos. In all my research, I have never heard of any responsible pro-marijuana group suggesting marijuana is harmless, but that its harms are within the bounds of tolerance for a responsible adult user. Certainly alcohol and tobacco are both more addictive than marijuana and cause quantifiable harm to hundreds of thousands of men and women each year. And the U.S. experiment with prohibition was a dramatic failure. Marijuana just doesn’t have the long-term historical association with high western culture that alcohol does.

Mentioning the benefits of medical marijuana is nearly anathema to the campaign. They allude to the use of THC for cancer and AIDS patients, but make it sound as if this is a last resort medicine because of marijuana’s inherent dangers, warning us that this is not a medicine to be used trivially!

What should we do with the campaign? Watch the movies, understand the rhetoric, teach our kids the real story and become part of the grass roots (or should I say buds) effort to wrest control of this issue from the hands of the tyrants.

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