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DEA vs. ONDCP: Whose Propaganda is Worse?

The DEA has announced its latest attempt to discourage marijuana use among teens who visit anti-marijuana websites. They’ve created an online magazine called “Stumble Weed” and it isn’t very good.

The “magazine” consists of five sections:

-It's just a plant. How could it be bad for me?
-Rx pot: a prescription for disaster.
-Totally lame (and dangerous and illegal) things to do on pot
-Extreme Grades: from A to D in six months
-Hey dude, where did my future go? Pot, motivation, and you.

They’ve dumbed-down the rhetoric here, which actually makes it more frustrating. Anyone who’s seen a drug warrior speak in public knows that it takes these guys over a thousand words to even approach the truth on any subject. “Stumble Weed” in contrast, is a series of one-sentence lies, too numerous to refute here.

Having read the whole thing so you don’t have to, I found only one surprise. This sentence appears in the “Totally Lame” section:
You can lose your student loan if you sell or grow marijuana while you are receiving educational assistance from the government.
That’s powerfully misleading. It should read like this:
You can lose your student loan for any drug offense however minor. Most students who lose aid were convicted of misdemeanor possession.
Given the controversy surrounding the HEA drug provision, I’m not surprised that they’re trying to make it sound as if the law only affects suppliers. But on the other hand, they’ve made an entire magazine about the consequences of smoking pot and they’re declining to mention a consequence that could affect many potential readers. The HEA drug provision is harmful enough without the government misleading young people about how it works.

And then there’s the question of why the DEA even has a magazine. Isn’t that what ONDCP is for? DEA is supposed to be busting drug cartels and instead they’re drawing cartoons about how smoking pot will give you a speech impediment. As my colleague Tom Klun pointed out, the CIA doesn’t make children’s magazines about why you shouldn’t be a terrorist.

Of course, government propaganda is harmless if no one reads it. According to DEA’s press release, the website, which houses “Stumble Weed” has received 49 million hits since August ’05. Yet the web-ranking site is unable to compute their hits because they’re not even in the top 100,000 websites. We are, and I’m sure we don’t get a million hits a month. Heck, look at this cool graph that compares their site to ours.

Once again, I can’t tell if they’re lying or just plain ignorant. But for what it’s worth, every dollar spent on propaganda is one less dollar spent killing the innocent.

United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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