Drug Prevention

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Congress Just Says No to Anti-Drug Propaganda

It looks like Congress will be giving Drug Czar John Walters a big lump of coal for Christmas this year. A major congressional spending bill slashes funding for anti-drug advertising down to $60 million for next year, a 40% reduction from this year's $99 million. Try as he might to spin the failure of his advertising campaign, the Drug Czar is just going to have to face facts: everyone knows the ads don't work and Congress is on pace to kill the program entirely within a few years.

For those who've been paying attention, it comes as no surprise that Congress is defunding the Drug Czar's propaganda campaign. A report by the Government Accountability Office not only found that the ads are ineffective, but actually concluded that kids who saw them were slightly more likely to try drugs!

Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to make the Drug Czar understand that his ads are crap. Literally, the simple act of criticizing the ads actually makes him think they're working. Look what he said about this just last week:
I find it somewhat amusing that pro-pot activists lobby every year to cut funding for this program - they must be worried that it's working too well!
Really? So according to the Drug Czar, anyone who opposes the ads is a pro-pot activist who is afraid that they work too well. But in real life, the ad budget is getting torn to shreds by the U.S. Congress because they know the program sucks.
Location: 
United States

Africa: NGOs Criticize Emphasis on Cutting Drug Supply, Urge Attention to Demand Reduction

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from across West and Central Africa meeting last weekend in Dakar, Senegal, criticized the United Nations (UN) and West and Central African governments for focusing on reducing the supply of drugs to the extent that they are ignoring demand reduction strategies, according to the UN news service IRIN.

The region has received increasing attention in recent months as a transshipment point for South American cocaine headed for insatiable European markets. It also produces marijuana for local consumption and export to Europe.

While money is beginning to flow into the region in an effort to suppress the drug trade, that money is not being matched with funds for treatment and prevention, said delegates to the meeting, part of a global NGO forum called "Beyond 2008" and coordinated by the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs.

"There is total disequilibrium with regards to the means given to different actors in the fight against drugs," Cheikh Diop, president of the Federation of Senegalese NGOs Fighting against Drugs, told IRIN. "So much money is invested in the fight against drug trafficking or the reduction of supply; but when it comes to reducing the demand -- or the users themselves -- organizations working on this approach have almost no financial means."

"We don't have the means to do what we want to do," said Abdoulaye Diouf, local organizer of the meeting and manager of the Senegalese Jacques Chirac drug information and awareness center.

"The fight against drugs will never succeed solely through repression," the anti-drug federation's Diop said. "How long have we been putting people in jail? And how long has the drug problem continued?"

He said there are few if any treatment facilities available for drug users in West Africa. Poverty-stricken street kids who fall into drugs need to be given alternatives and the general population must be educated about the risks of drug use, he said.

NGOs have become deeply involved in the fight to reduce drug use since the UN General Assembly special session on the global drug problem in 1998, but they complain that they lack resources, as well as training in research, analysis, and marketing. And governments too often ignore them, they said.

"There is almost no collaboration between NGOs and government," Diouf said. "When it comes to planning and implementing activities, NGOs are ignored in many countries."

Building Positive Communities: A Public Health Approach to Teen Methamphetamine Prevention

Are you a parent, teacher, school health or juvenile justice professional, youth prevention worker, or community member concerned with the health of New Mexico’s youth?

Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico and their partners invite you to attend “Building Positive Communities: A Public Health Approach to Teen Methamphetamine Prevention,” a two-day statewide conference to examine science-based education and prevention strategies that address methamphetamine abuse among teenagers.

  • Hear from national keynote speakers, state experts, and grassroots activists 
  • Obtain current information about methamphetamine trends in New Mexico, including use/abuse, prevention and treatment options
  • Identify reality-based approaches to drug education for youth
  • Examine models for school-based restorative justice and student assistance programs
  • Learn the “how-to’s” of creating a social norms marketing campaign
  • Enjoy opportunities for collaboration and networking with your colleagues

This conference is funded in part by a grant from the US Department of Justice.  This funding was championed by US Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Click here for programming and regisrtration details.
Date: 
Tue, 10/30/2007 - 8:00am - Wed, 10/31/2007 - 5:00pm
Location: 
800 Rio Grande Blvd., NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
United States

Plan Mexico: The Right Name for the Wrong Idea

Architects of a new plan to subsidize Mexico's brutal drug war with U.S. tax dollars are trying to avoid the name Plan Mexico. Obviously they don't want to invite the comparison to our disastrous Plan Colombia, even though a few desperate drug warriors are still calling it a success. The refusal to name anything after it might be the closest they'll come to admitting that Plan Colombia is widely – and justly – viewed as an utter failure.

As Pete Guither notes, journalists and bloggers alike have already named the program Plan Mexico. So while the details remain to be announced, the stigma of our previous and continuing failures in this area will inevitably haunt any effort to expand our destructive drug war diplomacy.

Although Plan Mexico will surely prioritize scorched-earth drug war demolition tactics, The New Republic notes the bizarre possibility that some funding will be directed towards drug prevention:

One element of that aid package is likely to be funding for drug-use prevention, according to Luis Astorga, a drug policy expert at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City. This is a strange new twist in the complex partnership between the U.S. and Mexico to fight drugs. And the U.S. isn't in much of a position to tell anyone how to prevent drug use.

Damn straight. Gosh, if we knew anything about drug prevention, these bloody wars over who gets to sell drugs to us wouldn’t be such a mind-bending crisis in the first place. The irony is just staggering:

When the U.S. cracked down on domestic meth production early this decade, Mexican cartels adept in trafficking cocaine and marijuana jumped at the chance to supply a new product.


The drug has traveled south, and is now available in every major city.

"Mexico's market is not big, but it has grown, mostly in urban zones," said Jorge Chabat, a crime and security expert at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City. "Availability has certainly contributed to consumption now that meth is produced in Mexico."

Let me get this straight. The U.S. banned pseudo-ephedrine-based cold medicines, and domestic meth production declined. Mexican cartels stepped in to fill the void, resulting in increased availability and use of meth in Mexico. Now the U.S. is poised to give drug prevention funding to Mexico due in part to a meth problem that didn’t even exist before we essentially exported our meth manufacturing problem to that country. Wow. Just wow.

At the end of the day, it is and always has been the massive drug consumption of U.S. citizens that fuels violence and instability throughout Mexico, Colombia, and beyond. We could spend every dollar we have bribing foreigners to stop selling us drugs and it wouldn’t make a difference. We could hire every man woman and child in these countries to help stop us from getting high, and they would just laugh all the way to the bank.

Too many American drug users are already sending their paychecks to Mexico. It is sheer idiocy to suggest that we send our tax-dollars there as well.

Location: 
United States

Anti-drug campaign 'makes us more likely to take it'

Location: 
United Kingdom
Publication/Source: 
The Scotsman (UK)
URL: 
http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1239972007

Meth Project founder critical of 'crazy' drug policy

Location: 
Helena, MT
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Great Falls Tribune (MT)
URL: 
http://www.greatfallstribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070720/NEWS01/707200329/1002

Pot, Aliens, and ONDCP

Seth Stevenson at Slate is in love with the new ONDCP ad in which a pot-smoker's girlfriend dumps him for a non-smoking alien:
Grade: A. This is very possibly the most effective, and least offensive, anti-marijuana campaign ever created. I know that ONDCP, and the Partnership for a Drug Free America, are cautiously thrilled with it. I expect it will be the model for years to come.

I'm not going to beat Stevenson up over this. He shares my belief that these ads shouldn't be offensive, and I agree that this is obviously tame by ONDCP standards. But what on earth does it mean to say that ONDCP is "cautiously thrilled" with this?

When has ONDCP ever been less than thrilled with their advertisements? They've vigorously defended their media campaign throughout its numerous incarnations, never once finding fault, even as a growing mountain of evidence depicts their public outreach efforts as an undeniable failure. Could it be that they were more candid with Seth Stevenson than the U.S. Congress?

Stevenson's analysis is fair enough, at least insofar as this ad is concerned. But, dude, before you go gushing anymore about truth in advertising at ONDCP, you might wanna check out "Stoners in the Mist."

Location: 
United States

New ONDCP Video Demonstrates Exactly Why Their Ads Don't Work

"Stoners in the Mist" is a fake documentary from AboveTheInfluence.com in which "Dr. Barnard Puck," clad in safari clothes, observes stoners and performs various experiments on them.

This is worth discussing only because it perfectly illustrates the lack of seriousness that still dominates the marijuana debate. I don’t know how anyone could watch this and conclude that the people who made it are a credible source of information about the effects of marijuana.

Among the highlights:


* A practically comatose stoner fails to notice when a tracking collar is placed around his neck

* Unable to move, two stoners sit on the same couch for 72 hours

* A stoned girl forgets her friend's name and has brownies in her hair

* Despite repeated attempts, a stoner is unable to grasp objects tossed to him at close range

* Categorical statements such as "we have learned through our intensive research that both male and female stoners tend to lack the motivation to maintain proper hygiene" are made.
 

At the risk of increasing their traffic, you have to watch it to appreciate how far-fetched and derogatory this video really is. It reminded me immediately of D.W. Griffith's racist classic The Birth of a Nation, which glorifies the Ku Klux Klan and depicts African Americans as incoherent slobbering rapists.

So yesterday, when an ONDCP staffer called SSDP and basically threatened to increase the childishness of his office's activities, we just laughed because there's really no lower level of discourse available to them. Two weeks ago, I witnessed ONDCP's David Murray indignantly challenge the seriousness of his critics, yet it is Murray himself who lobbies for more funding to produce utterly banal and sophomoric nonsense like "Stoners in the Mist."

So if the Responsible and Serious Youth Advocates at ONDCP can't figure out why they've alienated everyone, let me spell it out: it's because you're having your own made-up conversation about marijuana that no one else can participate in because it is completely fictitious and insane.

No, this is not a video about the effects of marijuana. It is a parting shot from an entrenched clan of spiteful, sniveling spin-doctors who continue to sling mud in desperation even as their puddle dries up.
 

Location: 
United States

ONDCP: We Don't Care What You Dorks on YouTube Think

A Seattle Post-Intelligencer story about political messages on YouTube.com contains this delightful quote from ONDCP:
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said it expects its YouTube messages to be ridiculed, laughed at, remade and spoofed. And they are.

The irony here is that, predictable as it may have been, ONDCP had no clue that this was going to happen. They deliberately generated media coverage of their YouTube page, only to find their videos marred by harsh comments and dismal viewer ratings. ONDCP quickly disabled these options, but the damage was done.

If they had genuinely anticipated this level of hostility from viewers, they would have optimized their page before sending out press releases about it. Because they did not, most ONDCP videos are now permanently stamped with the lowest-possible rating of one star.

This is to say nothing of the countless parodies that are now drowning out ONDCP’s unpopular propaganda. Since YouTube automatically recommends similar videos anytime you watch something, viewers of ONDCP’s materials are unavoidably connected to these abundant counter-messages. It is almost certainly for this reason that ONDCP has not uploaded a single new video since the page was first launched back in September 2006.

In a case like this, the mature decision would be to ignore them. But I find it amusing that even something as perfectly logical as expecting ridicule on YouTube turns out to be a lie when it comes from ONDCP.

Location: 
United States

it isn't balance when opinion runs as fact

Location: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada
Publication/Source: 
The Vancouver Sun (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/columnists/story.html?id=fad6bd9a-7c00-47aa-a549-e4e0376603c7

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