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While the rest of the nation is slowly but surely relaxing its
stance on marijuana, the U.S. Army is here to remind soldiers that
the ultra-conservative never goes out of style with a pamphlet
Marijuana: Stone-Cold Stupid. It’s just one of many
alarmist offerings from Prevention & Treatment
Resource Press that is sure to make you nostalgic for your last
midnight screening of Reefer Madness.
Here’s a typical passage that shows the lengths the writers have
gone to demonize a substance that
50 percent of Americans believe should be legal:
Marijuana’s effects can be unpredictable. The effects that
abusers are seeking include relaxation and giddiness. Pot smokers
laugh at anything—funny or not. Many users become dizzy, have
difficulty walking, and have red, bloodshot eyes. Terrible
thirst—“cotton mouth”—and hunger—“the munchies”—are typical. Some
people fall asleep when they use pot. Others experience anxiety or
paranoia every time they use the drug.
There are also bullet lists of unsupported claims and
cherry-picked factoids. For example:
- Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug, but it is
not as common as you might think: About 80% of young people never
- Being in a room with marijuana smoke can cause a “contact high”
from just breathing.
- In one study, 33% of arrested reckless drivers tested positive
- Possession of marijuana is illegal. Charges carry high fines
and jail time.
I question that 80 percent figure in bullet one. The
Organization of American States reported in 2008 that
more than 102 million Americans over the age of 12 have used
marijuana in their lifetime. That’s 41 percent. And
the study that the writers mention in bullet three failed to
factor in all the reckless drivers who were clearly intoxicated by
alcohol, skewing the percentage towards marijuana.
It’s a good thing, however, that the pamphlet highlights the
fact that marijuana is illegal. That alone is what makes marijuana
more dangerous to use—by the publishers’ own admission—than legal
drugs like alcohol and tobacco.
Marijuana’s listed short term effects can’t hold a candle to
those of alcohol (tough to beat coma and death!), and
its long term effects are no worse than
what a long-time cigarette smoker can expect.
The U.S. Army spends between 19 and 33 cents on each one of
these pamphlets (there are tables overflowing with them at every
base), and all they do is insult the intelligence of those men and
women who have chosen to serve their country.
[Disclosure: The writer is a proud member of the U.S. Army
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