January 27, 2005

Nonzero Impact

Jeff writes about the stupidity of zero tolerance policies in schools, and suggests that kids will think "Hmmm... They have lied to me about aspirin, what else have they lied to me about? Booze? Pot? Heroin?".

This really happened. At the tail end of the Peruvian Marching Powder era, it was not unusual to hear "They lied to us about pot; how were we to know they were telling the truth about cocaine?" Marijuana, while not harmless, is innocuous. While many of us wasted much time while wasted, few people did themselves any obvious harm by using it. When cocaine first appeared on the scene it seemed similarly innocuous, and when it was a rare delicacy, it was. Then it became readily available. I saw many people decide that potsmoking wasn't for them, and simply stop, but I saw people realize they had a problem with cocaine, and proceed to put their businesses up their noses. Having reasonably evaluated the Reefer Madness warnings as bogus, they disregarded warnings about cocaine until it was too late for them.

Today we have a subtler problem. For various reasons, a certain percentage of the population will choose to use one or another intoxicant. Misguided policies addressing this make this more of a problem than it could otherwise be. When I knew several people in my dormitory who always had pot for sale, binge drinking to the current degree of overdose was unheard of. When drug use is demonized, there is no room for teaching moderation. It is acceptable to run "public service announcements" offering swacked out dudes in their mother's basement accomplishing nothing as a role model, but I am not given the opportunity to suggest to such dudes that since the kick is in getting high as much as in being high, that they could maximise their enjoyment by taking a break and accomplishing something before taking another toke.


When I suggested taking a break, I neglected to mention that I did not mean 'till the Simpson's come on. Lent provides a handy arbitrary framework, and a good excuse to give to those would offer to stoke you up.

Posted by triticale at January 27, 2005 07:01 PM
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