Pubdate: Mon, 23 Nov 1998
Source: Austin American-Statesman (TX)
Copyright: 1998 Cox Interactive Media, Inc.
Author: Dan Harrison, Austin


I recently saw a amusing example on network television of this society's
mixed message on illegal drug use. In a Fox network program, "That '70s
Show," the use of marijuana was implied on several occasions.

In one scene, the characters sat around a table and uttered inanities as if
profound in an apparently drug-dazed state.

No drugs or smoke were shown, but the meaning was only thinly veiled.

During a commercial break in the same show, an anti-drug public service
announcement was aired.

The absurdity of these diametrically contradictory messages is exemplary of
the schizophrenic American attitude towards marijuana use.  On the one hand,
everybody knows someone who smokes it and we laugh at the semi-clever
"stoner" jokes in movies and on television. On the other hand, we fear the
negative influence of illegal drugs on children and endorse the eternal "war
on drugs." However, marijuana prohibition has done nothing to change public
attitudes in terms of actual usage.  Rather than continuing to wage an
unsuccessful war that criminalizes thousands of Americans because of their
drug choice, we should legalize and tax marijuana, including a minimum legal
age for purchase.

Then we could be honest with ourselves and our children about a substance
society already accepts, however covertly.

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Checked-by: Don Beck