Drug Education

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Millions More for a Failed Anti-Drug Propaganda Campaign? Ridiculous!

United States
AlterNet (CA)

Op-Ed: The federal anti-drug ad campaign yields only disappointing results

United States
The News-Sentinel (IN)

Britain's drug policy 'not fit for purpose'

United Kingdom
The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Feature: Drug Policy Reform Group to Partner with State of New Mexico in Federally-Funded Meth Prevention Education Program

In a first for drug reform organizations, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) New Mexico office has been designated to create a statewide methamphetamine education and prevention program directed at high school students, thanks to a $500,000 grant obtained by US Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) as part of a Justice Department appropriations bill. The grant is the result of years of close collaboration between DPA and New Mexico state and local officials dating back to the administration of former Gov. Gary Johnson (R), a prominent voice for drug law reform.

Building on ties with state government developed during the Johnson years, DPA New Mexico, currently headed by Reena Szczepanski, a former state health department employee, was named co-chair of the state's methamphetamine task force in 2005, along with then state drug czar Herman Silva. (Silva left office this week; his replacement has not yet been named.) The task force has worked for the past two years at developing comprehensive strategies for addressing the impact of methamphetamine on local communities. It was that work that caught the attention of Sen. Bingaman and resulted this week in the announcement of the grant.

"Meth is not only the No. 1 crime problem in many communities throughout our state, it is also devastating families and ruining lives," Bingaman said in a statement announcing the grant. "The funding I was able to secure will be used in an aggressive anti-meth marketing campaign aimed at preventing young people from ever using this terrible drug. I know it will be put to good use."

The state Health department is happy to get additional funding. "The more money we have to address the problem of methamphetamine in our state and communities, the better," Health Department spokeswoman Kay Bird told Drug War Chronicle.

DPA will use the grant to craft a meth prevention campaign designed by and for youth, which will be broadcast on television and radio stations throughout New Mexico. "We know from experience that young people ignore overly simplistic messages about the risks of drug use," said Szczepanski. "The strength of this campaign will be its focus on credible, science-based information rather than ineffective scare tactics."

Now, it's time for the DPA New Mexico office to get down to business. "We will be hiring a project coordinator, but we want to ensure that most of the resources are actually going for educational activities within the state," Szczepanski said. "We are going to focus our resources on social marketing and the education of people working with youth. Rather than a one-shot deal, we want to build awareness among youth by engaging them in a campaign that is relevant to them and designed by them. And we are going to focus on capacity. We don't want to create a program that will disappear in two years when the money runs out. That's why we will hold a statewide conference for educators and other people working with youth and concerned about meth -- so they can take what they've learned and plug it back into their schools and local communities." In addition to the statewide conference, DPA New Mexico will host a serious of regional training sessions designed to bring the meth prevention message where it is most needed.

"This is the first time DPA has ever received any federal funds, or any state money, for that matter," said DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann in New York. "We had never applied for any funds; we always assumed we would be effectively blacklisted, and also, we're not a service provision organization. But then, back in 2005, Sen. Bingaman wanted to put DPA New Mexico in for an earmark. The reason was largely because Reena was co-chairing Gov. Richardson's task force on meth abuse. She came out of the state health department, and has been really spectacular," Nadelmann told the Chronicle.

The offer of federal funding prompted considerable discussion within DPA, said Nadelmann. "When Bingaman wanted to put us in for an earmark, we had to ask ourselves if we really felt comfortable with that, and last year, we had a conference call with virtually the entire board to decide whether or not we should accept this money. We did substantial research on this, we talked to folks at the Harm Reduction Coalition about how they handle taking federal funds. We looked at the Drug Free Workplace Act and concluded it had no prohibition on hiring active drug users," he explained.

"We had to ask ourselves whether we would somehow be corrupted by taking federal money," Nadelmann continued, "and the answer was no. Our sense was that because our whole mission and vision is so fundamentally about changing the government's drug policies, and also because this money is a one-shot deal that it was unlikely to have that effect in any case. And there are good reasons to take the money, not just because we can do good things with it, but also because we're taxpayers. Billions go to the drug war every year, why not take some money to do good things instead? Finally, getting a federal grant also legitimizes us in some people's eyes. After serious discussions, our staff was overwhelmingly in favor of this, and in the final analysis, the board was, too."

"This is a real opportunity to take what we've done with Safety First and Beyond Zero Tolerance and do it in a very big way," said Nadelmann, referring to the alternative drug education programs pioneered by DPA's Marsha Rosenbaum. "It is also an opportunity to provide an alternative to criminal justice approaches and scare campaign approaches like the one in Montana."

Ironically, despite widespread public concern about methamphetamine, the popular stimulant is not the most widely used hard drug among New Mexico teens -- and, according to state Health Department surveys, its use is already declining. When measuring how many teens had used which drug in the past month, the surveys found that 4.6% of New Mexico students admitted using meth in 2005, down from 7.3% in 2003. Both figures are lower than those reported for cocaine, with 8.9% of students admitting use of cocaine in the past month in 2003 and 7.9% in 2005.

Even though teen meth use appears to be declining and even though it is not the most frequently cited hard drug among New Mexico youth, as the demon drug du jour, methamphetamine is the drug that can shake loose dollars from the federal anti-drug bureaucracies, and it is a real problem in the Land of Enchantment, said Szczepanski.

"If you look at the numbers, meth is not the number one drug of choice in New Mexico, but there is a lot of political interest in it," Szczepanski conceded. "Still, we've traveled around the state and worked with various local coalitions, and these communities are grappling with these issues like they've never done before. You cannot deny that meth is having an incredible impact."

And concern over meth has now catapulted the DPA into a whole new realm -- taking its enlightened drug education and prevention messages directly to the people who will be working at the state, community, and school level.

If You Smoke Pot, An Alien Could Steal Your Girlfriend

That's the central message of this new Above The Influence ad. There's another new one about how smoking pot is the same as putting leeches all over yourself.

Well shucks, it was fun while it lasted. See you all at Marijuana Anonymous.

United States

New Booklet Available -- "Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs"

[Courtesy of Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the Safety First Project and director of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance] My new booklet, "Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs," is now available. We offer the first 25 copies for free and use a sliding scale after that. Our main goal is to make this resource available to parents, educators and reform organizations. Our goal is to reach the widest audience possible. Please go to http://www.safety1st.org/ to order the booklets, or phone Rhett Hurlston at (415) 921-4987.
San Francisco, CA
United States

Needle exchange bill again introduced in legislature

United States
Bay Area Reporter (CA)

U.S. Drug Czar Advises Canadian Officials On How To Destroy Canada

On the heels of reports that the U.S. is breaking its own incarceration records, The Vancouver Sun announces that Canadian officials are consulting with U.S. drug warriors in the hopes of revamping Canada's drug policy.

Canada's new Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who apparently doesn't read U.S. newspapers, seems to think we've got all the answers:

The strategy will focus on "a few key priority areas that the current government could focus and build on," such as "clandestine labs, marihuana grow operations, synthetic drugs," the document states. "Another key element of the proposed national strategy is the national awareness campaign for youth."

Yeah nothing scares kids away from drugs like government-sponsored propaganda. Possible ONDCP recommendations for a youth awareness campaign:

1. Switch it up periodically. Spend a few years telling kids that pot will make you shoot your friends, run over toddlers and get pregnant at parties. Then nail 'em with a "couch" ad claiming marijuana is "the safest thing in the world."

2. Don't answer the phone. It could be other branches of government calling for an update on your performance measures. Never let anyone measure your performance except you.

3. Make desperate appeals to pop culture. Start a blog, podcasts, online magazines and youtube videos. Find the Canadian Al Roker and get him to talk to the kids. Encourage people to use these resources by claiming they are popular.

4. Say awesome stuff. If government reports show that the program isn't working, try to confuse everyone by saying this: "It’s very difficult to tell whether Britney Spears bopping around on some Coca-Cola ad actually sold a single bottle of Coca-Cola. The groups that promote marijuana wouldn’t be criticizing it so much if they didn’t think it was effective."

To clarify, I'm in favor of discouraging young people from using drugs. But if I were implementing such a program, John Walters is the very last person on Earth whose input I would solicit. He voluntarily limited his ability to prevent real-world harms by focusing on the least harmful drug. And he demonstrated a lack of interest when results showed that the ads were counterproductive.

But it gets worse:

Harper also called for mandatory minimum sentences and large fines for serious drug offenders, including marijuana growing operators and "producers and dealers of crystal meth and crack."

Mandatory minimums
!? Even Drug Czar speech-writer Kevin Sabet is coming around on that. Mandatory minimums have nearly destroyed our criminal justice system. They take away judicial discretion, making grave injustices commonplace. They bloat our prisons with non-violent offenders and burden tax-payers with the costs. They empower bullying prosecutors and encourage innocent people to accept plea-bargains. And you just don't need mandatory minimums to send scumbags to jail.

Stephen Harper needs to slow down and familiarize himself with the problems we're having here before asking for drug policy advice from some of the most callous and willfully ignorant people to ever contemplate the subject. The problem with a terrible drug policy is that it's really hard to turn back the clock. Ever susceptible to drug hysteria, American politicians have repeatedly succumbed to the temptation of quick-fix lock-em-up solutions. Once implemented, destructive policies are sustained by the knowledge that a "soft on crime" label may await any legislator brave enough to question the status quo. Meanwhile, the world's wealthiest nation functions at a shrinking fraction of its potential.

And where will the Canadian people turn if the nightmare of American drug war barbarism is unleashed in their communities? They already live in Canada.

United States

It's Just a Plant - New Edition on Sale

An e-mail we received from the author of the controversial book "It's Just A Plant." Hello Gentle Reader, "It's Just a Plant," the children's book about marijuana that has been called "a glimpse of what enlightened drug education could be" (Dr. Andrew Weil) is on sale now for the winter holiday. That's right.. a new edition of the book, a new price ($15), and a new website to explain everything there is to know about this unique story. The perfect gift for your parents, your brother who just had a child, your sister the mother of two, or even your own kids (read it along with them!). Available here: http://www.justaplant.com Happy Holidays! Ricardo Cortes & MPMBooks www.mpmill.com * Many have asked us if this book could be made available at their local book store. Feel free to forward us any shops that you would like us to contact and we'll be sure to reach out to them. If you're a retailer yourself, or would like to buy the book in bulk, email us directly. * As always, if you would like to opt-out from receiving these messages, please reply with "remove" in the subject heading. * COMING SOON: "It's Just a Plant" in French, German, and Hebrew!
United States

Have You Warned Your Kids About Schwag?

Next time you get "amped out" on "sextasy" and wind up in a "k-hole" don't tell your mom. Forbes.com has published a new drug-slang quiz for parents that totally lets the "cat" out of the "bag".

If you're a parent, you might want to brush up on your drug slang to stay alert to possible drug use by your children, suggest addiction experts at the Menninger Clinic in Houston.

Slang terms for drugs constantly change and evolve, the researchers said. For example, while marijuana is still called weed or pot by some, it's also referred to by newer terms such as chronic or schwagg.

Are they serious? Dr. Dre’s marijuana-themed album "The Chronic" came out in 1992. And "schwag" of course is a derogatory term for really bad marijuana that’s been in use forever as far as I know.

More highlights:

2. The painkiller Oxycontin is also called: a) oxies; b) cotton.

They say only (b) is a correct answer. So if your child asks to borrow money so he can get some "oxies" go ahead and help out.

6. Combining the prescription drug Viagra with Ecstasy is called: a) 24-7 heaven; b) sextasy.

Answer: (b) Parents who’ve let their daughter go to "sextacy" parties will be shocked to learn the truth. But no, I don’t think we have to worry about Congress banning Viagra anytime soon.

8. Working Man's Cocaine is: a) crack cocaine; b) methamphetamine.

Answer: (b). Meth users have jobs? I heard all they did was rob gas stations and pluck out their eyebrows.

10. "Juice" is the slang term for: a) steroids; b) PCP.

Answer: both. So if you overhear your kid using the word "juice" they're either on steroids or PCP. The hard part is figuring out which.

This is the sort of useless information one can expect from "addiction experts" who regularly turn out to know less about drugs than everybody else.

United States

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