Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pot 'could turn you into a dickhead'

The Australian newspaper, the Age, reports on a new Australian Government drugs initiative. Apparently:

"A NSW anti-cannabis campaign will target teenagers as they travel to school and surf the internet.

NSW Health launched the $600,000 campaign, which it says is designed to warn the 14 to 19-year-old age group on the dangers of starting the marijuana habit.

Print advertisements, carrying tag lines such as "Pot. It mightn't kill you, but it could turn you into a dickhead", will appear in youth magazines and on bus stop posters."

In Yorkshire this would have presumably been a waste of money as the youths would have been to busy inhaling the the burning bus shelter to read the poster.

Anyway, aside from the the charmingly retro Aussie use of the term 'pot' there's nothing much to get irate about in the campaign. Engaging young people on there own terms is a good start and it certainly seems like a step forward from some of the exaggerated anti-drug silliness of the past, that probably did more harm than good by being so far removed from young people's real life experiences that it ended up alienating them and actually making sensible drugs and health messages harder to get across. Pointing out that people stoned can be boring (especially if its all the time) seems fair enough, as long as this doesn't become focussed on illegal drugs only. Im painfully aware that drunk people can be boring too.

The Age reports New South Wales Health drug and alcohol programs director David McGrath, repsonsible for the campaign saying that:

"There is still a significant cohort of people who think, particularly with the young person's age group, that cannabis is normal"
and that
"There's no safe level of cannabis use."

Neither of these statements seem very useful to me. Firstly, people who use drugs, whatever the legal status, obviously think they are normal. Normalness is, unfortunately for politicians, rather a subjective term. Start calling young people abnormal becasue they use different drugs to you, or because their non-safe drug of choice is illegal (because its different from your non-safe legal drug of choice), and they will stop listening to you altogether for being a hypocrit. And probably start calling you a dickhead. DICKHEAD!

Secondly, if we are going to really pernickety about this, there is no completely safe use of any active drug. However, I'd like to suggest that it would be far more useful to say something along the lines of 'the only way to avoid risk altogether is not to use, but if you do: the more you use the greater the risk'.

I hope the campaign works, but the proof is in the outcomes, and experience shows these sort of efforts are incredibly hard to measure. I'd also like to thank McGrath and colleagues for giving the word 'dickhead' the official stamp of approval for all future serious discourse on drug policy the world over.

Nothing to do with this blog but I wanted a picture and, well he is apparently to address the UK Conservative party conference this year. Hopefully not on the subject of drugs education

thanks to drug war rant


Anonymous said...

There are plenty of true things you could put on posters trying to get people not to use cannabis, or not use it excessively. Especially when it comes to kids, so why do they do things like this, or worse still lie?

Anonymous said...

Hard to resist saying that politics seems to attract more "dickheads" than pot does.