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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » DARE student turns in parents (Page 1)

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Author Topic: DARE student turns in parents
airmanfour
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This makes me mad.

http://www.wbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13330034#

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MattP
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Grr..
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BlackBlade
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[Frown]
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King of Men
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Well, really now, what can you do when people insist on breaking the very reasonable rules set up by The State? It's not as though this was some nebulous accusation of thoughtcrime or facecrime; no, there was very physical contraband! Clearly, the child is a future Hero of the Republic, and will likely go far within the Party; if any TSA recruiters read this, they should take note.
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Samprimary
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Oh no, marijuana! Better have social services take the kid away indefinitely.

SCARY FACTS ABOUT MARIJUANA

- It is a drug. Drugs are a class of substances that include heroin and cyanide pills, which can be hidden inside false teeth for killing yourself.
- Another name for marijuana is "the Devil Weed." The Devil is Satan, or Lucifer, a being purportedly responsible for all bad things in history.
- Marijuana consumption, like water consumption, has been statistically associated with blindness, epilepsy, obesity, and death.
- Academic elitists use marijuana to come down from their adderall highs. Be sure to note when your children consort with 'academics,' 'liberals,' or 'Juggalos.'
- A side effect of marijuana is paranoia. Blackblade is going to ban me for writing this post, and I will probably be abducted and forced to live in cleveland, chicago, or baltimore.

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Xavier
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I hope their marijuana presentations include the fact that it is significantly less harmful and less addictive than alcohol.
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adenam
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I went through DARE and cannot believe how it could actually make a serious impression on anyone.

eta:
Xavier-It was a wile ago but I'm pretty sure that distinction was not made. As far as I can recall DARE taught me that taking anything once would turn me into an addict forever.

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MattP
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It doesn't.
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Blayne Bradley
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This would be certainly be applauded if there was any evidence that any domestic abuse was going on, right now on its own merits this does raise the troubling question of how responsible were the parents in keeping recreational substances out of reach of minors? Nothing wrong I think with having these substances morally speaking, its like the middle ground between guns and porn in severity, both you can have, both need to be secured away from where your children could unsupervised get access to it.

What if it were a gun? Or on the flipside some really embarrassing porn and the child brought it to school? Either situation can have the kid going "are my parents wrong for having this?" in one case with a firearm, the kid could be a danger to himself or others in transporting it, with the other thing, really really embarrassing PT conference.

So clearly the situation is that better situational awareness is required, 1) parents need to keep their drugs out of harms reach and be more careful, 2) society needs to be less uptight about it but on the flipside is an excellent chance to make sure the family is alright, drugs should be a warning sign but not nessasarily indicitive of anything or should require removing the child from the home, but could be an excellent staging ground to investigate and make sure of things.

Also needs more tact, I think this was a pretty well meaning system but obviously has alot of bugs and not fully thought out.

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Herblay
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Oh no, marijuana! Better have social services take the kid away indefinitely.

SCARY FACTS ABOUT MARIJUANA

- It is a drug. Drugs are a class of substances that include heroin and cyanide pills, which can be hidden inside false teeth for killing yourself.
- Another name for marijuana is "the Devil Weed." The Devil is Satan, or Lucifer, a being purportedly responsible for all bad things in history.
- Marijuana consumption, like water consumption, has been statistically associated with blindness, epilepsy, obesity, and death.
- Academic elitists use marijuana to come down from their adderall highs. Be sure to note when your children consort with 'academics,' 'liberals,' or 'Juggalos.'
- A side effect of marijuana is paranoia. Blackblade is going to ban me for writing this post, and I will probably be abducted and forced to live in cleveland, chicago, or baltimore.

I think that the failure to capitalize the names of cities indicates a subversive communication to liberals . . . probably based in California (or "california").

Sam, are you one of the aformentioned "Juggalos"?
[Angst]

<<Sends abduction squad>>

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Raymond Arnold
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People are upset that Marijuana is illegal, or that children were taken from the custody of parents that were breaking the law?

Because as much as I think Marijuana should not be illegal, I don't think lax standards against middle class families are part of the solution. Especially when the kid is living with relatives, not some random foster family.

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Juxtapose
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It's more that I'm upset that I'm helping to fund a program which

A) is ineffective,

B) in this case, convinced a child to take an action which he quite likely would not have taken had he understood all the implications of it, and which achieved the benefit of...nothing, as near as I can tell.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by adenam:
I went through DARE and cannot believe how it could actually make a serious impression on anyone.

Besides perhaps trivializing marijuana to teens and children? I highly doubt it does.

DARE is a program that should have ended about the time I left middle school.

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scifibum
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I hope there was more justification for taking the kids away than that the parents are known to smoke weed.
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Samprimary
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Not likely? This country's still criminally stupid when it comes to pot. That pot event alone is literally all you need in many places to get SS to swoop in and grab a kid who is in no danger and is not being neglected.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Herblay:

Sam, are you one of the aformentioned "Juggalos"?
[Angst]

<<Sends abduction squad>>

We cannot truly be certain until someone's children bring the Insane Clown Posse to school.

Wow, is that kid going to grow up confused. I can't wait until he becomes a teenager. Thank you, DARE, for the lessons in zero-tolerance, absolutely-no-shades-of-grey thinking.

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Samprimary
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the dark carnival may be once a year, but juvie is year-long!
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Tresopax
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Why are people upset with DARE in this case? His parents were doing illegal drugs at home and were careless enough about it that their 11-year-old kid could get ahold of it without their knowledge and bring it to school. Aside from endangering themselves, they were endangering their kids too.

Would it have been different if there had been no DARE program there, and instead of turning it in, the kid had been caught in school giving it to a friend? It seems like the effects would be the same, except in the latter case the kid would get expelled too.

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Xavier
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To me its the combined package.

1) Marijuana should absolutely not be illegal.
2) The child was brainwashed into believing it was so bad that he needed to turn in his own parents for using it. If this DARE program material is like others I've read about, this brainwashing was done through scare tactics, exaggeration, misinformation, and outright lies.
3) This brainwashing was done by a program that has been shown to be completely ineffective at its actual goals.
4) A child turning in their parents evokes an emotional response from me relating to totalitarian regimes and McCarthyism. Obviously I have no problem with it for abuse cases and major crimes. However, to have it here with a crime that harms no one is just wretched.

I'm sure there are other factors as well.

Edit: Lots!

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theCrowsWife
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:

2) The child was brainwashed into believing it was so bad that he needed to turn in his own parents for using it.

At least from the linked article, we don't know this. Maybe the kid was brainwashed, or maybe he was angry with his parents over something and decided to do something to hurt them.

quote:
If this DARE program material is like others I've read about, this brainwashing was done through scare tactics, exaggeration, misinformation, and outright lies.
Has DARE really changed that much in the last decade? When I was in school, it was a complete joke and all of the kids made fun of it. It would really surprise me if such an inept program were even capable of brainwashing.

--Mel

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
I hope their marijuana presentations include the fact that it is significantly less harmful and less addictive than alcohol.

It is not any less addictive than alcohol- addiction is a motivational disorder aggravated (sometimes) by physical dependency. And on that score, alcohol has not been shown to be more dependency forming than marijuana, although physical dependency on alcohol and its withdrawal period are much, much more dangerous.

Just get your facts in order, that's all.

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Orincoro
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FWIW, following numerous studies about DARE's lack of effectiveness, my high school did not welcome any of its representatives for lectures or assemblies. A rather gutsy move from an administration I always thought was pretty spineless. They did have a lot of people in every year to talk about violence, and one motivational speaker to talk about drinking- but he wasn't from DARE.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
To me its the combined package.

1) Marijuana should absolutely not be illegal.
2) The child was brainwashed into believing it was so bad that he needed to turn in his own parents for using it. If this DARE program material is like others I've read about, this brainwashing was done through scare tactics, exaggeration, misinformation, and outright lies.
3) This brainwashing was done by a program that has been shown to be completely ineffective at its actual goals.
4) A child turning in their parents evokes an emotional response from me relating to totalitarian regimes and McCarthyism. Obviously I have no problem with it for abuse cases and major crimes. However, to have it here with a crime that harms no one is just wretched.

I'm sure there are other factors as well.

I think that lumping in the "OMG McCarthy!" in with the rest of the complaints is... well, wrong, basically.

Dare is ineffective. Marijuana should be illegal. The fix for this is that we should either give up on or develop a replacement for the dare program, and Marijuana should be legalized.

If they actually WORKED (and weren't lying about anything), I wouldn't have any problem with scare tactics being utilized in an anti-drug program. Drugs SHOULD be scary enough that kids will avoid using them until they're old enough to fully understand the consequences and make appropriate decisions about them.

If those scare tactics resulted in a kid bringing in cocaine that his parents were using, I would be absolutely fine with that. Yes, this particular instance was sad and a little silly, but that had nothing to do with what the kid did, and everything to do with the particular drug in question and an unrelated ineffectiveness of the program in general.

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Xavier
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quote:
I think that lumping in the "OMG McCarthy!" in with the rest of the complaints is... well, wrong, basically.
I went out of my way to phrase that as an emotional response from me. Not sure how that's something you can argue against.

quote:
It is not any less addictive than alcohol- addiction is a motivational disorder aggravated (sometimes) by physical dependency. And on that score, alcohol has not been shown to be more dependency forming than marijuana, although physical dependency on alcohol and its withdrawal period are much, much more dangerous.
I don't pretend to have ton a lot of research on the subject, but a quick google search reveals several sites claiming that marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, and none that claim the reverse (from my 2 minute observation).

Perhaps the common usage of "addiction" is strongly biased towards the "physical dependency" aspect of the term?

Of course you never actually say that marijuana is more addictive than alcohol, you just say it isn't "any less addictive". Are you claiming that they are equally addictive? Or are you just saying that nothing has been proven one way or the other?

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I went out of my way to phrase that as an emotional response from me. Not sure how that's something you can argue against.
As a complete aside from the drug situation, do you think that it can ever reasonable to describe an emotional response as "wrong"?
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Herblay
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
I hope their marijuana presentations include the fact that it is significantly less harmful and less addictive than alcohol.

It is not any less addictive than alcohol- addiction is a motivational disorder aggravated (sometimes) by physical dependency. And on that score, alcohol has not been shown to be more dependency forming than marijuana, although physical dependency on alcohol and its withdrawal period are much, much more dangerous.

Just get your facts in order, that's all.

You state that alcohol isn't any more addictive, and then you remark on how much more dangerous alcohol dependency is.

Physical dependence IS an extremely large factor in alcohol addiction. There may be some physical dependence involved with marijuana; but if so, it's marginal and hasn't been widely accepted.

Most doctors consider addiction to include both physical and psychological dependencies. As alcohol abuse creates both dependencies (and marijuana is primarily psychological), virtually every professional will categorically deem alcohol to be more addictive. Certainly, that conclusion is based primarily on how easily someone can quit, but it's still a sound assessment.

Again, you may be "hooked" as easily with either drug, but you'll have a lot harder time breaking your alcohol addiction.

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Raymond Arnold
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Multiple people had been making comments suggesting that the McCarthy parallels are concerning (whether or not they referred specifically to McCarthy, the sentiment is there). It's not wrong to have that emotional reaction. But it is dangerous to include emotional reactions among lists of facts and actual arguments. It suggests that they have the same weight.

I've been seeing the same tendency in reactions to this article both on and off the forum, often clearly implying that the fact that the kid turned in his parents WAS inherently wrong. Given how strong the emotional reactions to this are I think it's important that we maintain the distinction.

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Xavier
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quote:
do you think that it can ever reasonable to describe an emotional response as "wrong"?
I'm not sure I can make any definite claims one way or the other. I think most of the time you need to identify to the person that the emotional response was based on incorrect or incomplete knowledge.

Other than that, it seems you'd usually have to venture too much into a psychoanalysis of the person, and that rarely ends well.

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Xavier
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quote:
Multiple people had been making comments suggesting that the McCarthy parallels are concerning (whether or not they referred specifically to McCarthy, the sentiment is there). It's not wrong to have that emotional reaction. But it is dangerous to include emotional reactions among lists of facts and actual arguments. It suggests that they have the same weight.
I think you missed the fact that my post was in response to someone asking why we were upset (Tresopax).

In answering that question, emotional responses are very applicable.

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Raymond Arnold
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Your statement was:

quote:
A child turning in their parents evokes an emotional response from me relating to totalitarian regimes and McCarthyism. Obviously I have no problem with it for abuse cases and major crimes. However, to have it here with a crime that harms no one is just wretched.
Posted in conjuction with the series of the more direct factual answers, honestly I don't think it's clear that you mean "this is an emotional response that is not actually a valid reason to criticize it." In particular your use of the word "wretched."

My actual statement was that lumping in that WITH the other categories was wrong, not that the emotional response was wrong in the first place.

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Xavier
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quote:
If they actually WORKED (and weren't lying about anything), I wouldn't have any problem with scare tactics being utilized in an anti-drug program.
I'm not sure I agree.

Look at this list of facts about Di-Hydrogen Monoxide: http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html

Is there one single lie on that page? Nope.
Is it misinformation? Absolutely.

A lot of the "drug fact" lists on Marijuana and MDMA I've read aren't much better than the above page. Even if it does manage to scare some kids away, it's still misinformation.

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Tresopax
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quote:
You state that alcohol isn't any more addictive, and then you remark on how much more dangerous alcohol dependency is.
The alcohol comparison doesn't really prove much, regardless. It's sort of like saying driving intoxicated is less dangerous than driving blindfolded - which, while true, doesn't make driving intoxicated okay. It just means there's something potentially worse.

In the case of alcohol, I don't think there's any question that it is potentially extremely harmful when abused. It would likely be illegal too if it wasn't so intertwined with so many of our social norms. So that's a low bar to compare against.

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Xavier
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quote:

My actual statement was that lumping in that WITH the other categories was wrong, not that the emotional response was wrong in the first place.

When its one of the prime reasons I was upset, I don't know why I wouldn't include it in a direct answer to a question about why I was upset. In what way could I list it and not have it "lumped in"?
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Xavier
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quote:

In the case of alcohol, I don't think there's any question that it is potentially extremely harmful when abused. It would likely be illegal too if it wasn't so intertwined with so many of our social norms. So that's a low bar to compare against.

Even if its a low bar, I find it one of the best ones for these discussions when addressing people's preconceived notions. Now admittedly with the readership of this site, being disproportionately LDS, it may not be the most applicable audience.

However, a lot of the general public will buy into and repeat the "dangers" of Marijuana and MDMA and then go get hammered on the weekend. The dissonance there is stunning.

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Raymond Arnold
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You used language that specifically indicated it was not merely an emotional response from you, but something you implied other people should respond similarly to.

"Obviously I have no problem with it for abuse cases and major crimes. However, to have it here with a crime that harms no one is just wretched."

I was also assuming when Tres said "why are people upset with Dare" the implication was "what legitimate reasons to people have to be upset with Dare" as opposed to literally "why are people emotionally upset." But I realize that's a little more open ended.

Regardless, in general, people have a tendency to conflate emotional responses with evidence, and I think it's a lot safer to err on the side of jumping on someone for appearing to do so when in fact they understood the distinction than to risk allowing a conversation to be filled with miscommunication and false statements.

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Xavier
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Eh, I guess I can see that. At the very least I've lost interest in debating it [Smile] .
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Raymond Arnold
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Fair enough.
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Lisa
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One of the comments on the news article has it exactly right. They should have arrested the kid. It's the kid who was in possession of the weed.

Yes, common sense says that it would be stupid to bust the kid. But common sense was clearly not at play here.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by theCrowsWife:
Has DARE really changed that much in the last decade? When I was in school, it was a complete joke and all of the kids made fun of it. It would really surprise me if such an inept program were even capable of brainwashing.

DARE actually sort of accomplishes the inverse effect. When authority figures vastly overplay the danger of a drug, and then you go try it out one day and none of what they warned you about was even remotely as bad as the scare tactics suggested, the anti-drug movement loses credibility with you even with the drugs that matter when it comes to being scared off of.

Like meth and heroin.

Basically, we're spending millions to make the battle against substance dependency harder.

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theamazeeaz
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
To me its the combined package.

1) Marijuana should absolutely not be illegal.
2) The child was brainwashed into believing it was so bad that he needed to turn in his own parents for using it. If this DARE program material is like others I've read about, this brainwashing was done through scare tactics, exaggeration, misinformation, and outright lies.
3) This brainwashing was done by a program that has been shown to be completely ineffective at its actual goals.
4) A child turning in their parents evokes an emotional response from me relating to totalitarian regimes and McCarthyism. Obviously I have no problem with it for abuse cases and major crimes. However, to have it here with a crime that harms no one is just wretched.

I'm sure there are other factors as well.

I think that lumping in the "OMG McCarthy!" in with the rest of the complaints is... well, wrong, basically.

Dare is ineffective. Marijuana should be illegal. The fix for this is that we should either give up on or develop a replacement for the dare program, and Marijuana should be legalized.

If they actually WORKED (and weren't lying about anything), I wouldn't have any problem with scare tactics being utilized in an anti-drug program. Drugs SHOULD be scary enough that kids will avoid using them until they're old enough to fully understand the consequences and make appropriate decisions about them.

If those scare tactics resulted in a kid bringing in cocaine that his parents were using, I would be absolutely fine with that. Yes, this particular instance was sad and a little silly, but that had nothing to do with what the kid did, and everything to do with the particular drug in question and an unrelated ineffectiveness of the program in general.

My friend's mother smoked pot when she was a child, and in her estimation, using did contribute to her mother being a crappy, neglectful and irresponsible parent. She knows. She was there. My friend is an adult now, and she still doesn't see her mother's drug use as okay.

A lot people support the legalization of pot with the defense: "I do it, I'm an upstanding citizen and so is everyone else I know who smokes weed." I find that assessment problematic because people with actual problems will say the exact same thing. Most people claiming that they are fine are in their teens and 20s and have not hit the point where their body will claim the debt that use has taken, assuming the harmful side effects do exist. These are the kind of people who think that they are immortal anyway. It's not that all of them are wrong, it's that I can't believe them.

Is there an objective standard that we can apply to someone who uses drugs to show that there is no harm or that that the people who state that there is no harm are wrong, or that they used responsibly? Is my friend's mother the exception or the rule? I didn't watch the video- was there any information of others' perceptions of the parents' characters. I think I would want statements from their employers, the boy's grandmother or adult relatives who see the family, and perhaps parents of the boy's peers who know the parents socially.

There are lots of petty crimes that are committed by a large fraction of the population. Copyright violations, failure to obey posted speed limits come to mind. We fault the kid, because we see him as annoying because these are things he would get us in trouble for. It's only the people who truly don't perform these activities who can condemn the boy in good conscience.

Like Raymond suggested, I think we should revisit at this story and remove pot and replace it with a drug that people (nearly) universally agree is harmful to one's ability to actively parent an elementary school child. What is a reasonable response to the discovery that your parent is doing drugs and is strung out and out of their mind, now that you are old enough to notice and it clicks that not all families are like yours?

What happens if we take away the "victimless" crime of drug use and replace it with larceny, spying against the government, sexual abuse or murder. There is a line between persons or principles- where do you draw it?

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Juxtapose
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Except that the victimless nature is at the heart of the issue.*

Can marijuana contribute to someone being a crappy parent? Yes. So can alcohol, tobacco, and high-fructose corn syrup. What we ought to recognize is that that although pot has negative effects, ciminilzation has been an ineffective and expensive mitigation strategy.

I want to emphasize the expensive part, because it ties in neatly with the situation being discussed. Whatever good you think may have come from busting the parents, does anyone seriously contend that it was worth the expense to prosecute them, as well as the trauma this kid is undoubtedly going through?

(I'm haven't heard of any neglect or abuse in this family. Should this turn out to be the case, my estimation would change.)

*I want to unpack this a little. Because so many instances of pot use are victimless, many instances of pot prosecution are going to have a negligable societal benefit. So, although you have instances where people are tangibly benifited by someone (a grossly negligent parent, for example) being busted, there are many many more instances of someone being prosecuted, at great expense, with little to show for it. In the aggregate, it is the victimless nature of so many instances of pot use that make the benefits of enforcement so expensive.

[ October 19, 2010, 04:10 PM: Message edited by: Juxtapose ]

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Tresopax
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quote:
A lot people support the legalization of pot with the defense: "I do it, I'm an upstanding citizen and so is everyone else I know who smokes weed." I find that assessment problematic because people with actual problems will say the exact same thing.
My observations match yours. It typically seems rather obvious to me how smoking contributes in a major way to problems in the lives of people I know, yet they will typically try to say there is no connection.

In a few cases those problems are medical, but more often they are social problems. I think some people tend to think the social effects of drug use don't count as real problems caused by it - blaming society instead. But regardless of who is to blame, its usually pretty clear that the problems would not exist if the individual had chosen a different recreational activity to take part in....

quote:
Can marijuana contribute to someone being a crappy parent? Yes. So can alcohol, tobacco, and high-fructose corn syrup. What we ought to recognize is that that although pot has negative effects, ciminilzation has been an ineffective and expensive mitigation strategy.
You can say criminalization is an expensive strategy but I don't think you can say it is ineffective, not completely at least - pot smoking is definitely less common than use of alcohol, tobacco, and high-frutcose corn syrup. My suspicion is that if it were legal, it would be significantly more widespread.
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Juxtapose
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I'd argue that reduction of use is not the end goal. Rather, mitigation of harm from abuse is the goal. Criminalization is, as you say, effective at reducing use. Unfortunately, criminalization also makes harm mitigation more difficult, because of stigmatization, and the illegal market that results.

I should add that, yes, reducing use does prevent some amount of harm. I believe that this effect has to be balanced against those I mentioned above (difficult calculus, for sure) but it's worth acknowledging the point.

[ October 19, 2010, 04:45 PM: Message edited by: Juxtapose ]

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Xavier
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Criminalization of marijuana also does exponentially more harm than the drug itself.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
Criminalization of marijuana also does exponentially more harm than the drug itself.


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Tresopax
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quote:
Criminalization of marijuana also does exponentially more harm than the drug itself.
This is the sort of claim that's easy to make, but hard to justify though. I would think the reverse is true - criminization causes some harm but prevents more harm than it causes.

Of course, I also think it's not an issue that boils down to only two options.

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Herblay
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
Criminalization of marijuana also does exponentially more harm than the drug itself.
This is the sort of claim that's easy to make, but hard to justify though. I would think the reverse is true - criminization causes some harm but prevents more harm than it causes.

Of course, I also think it's not an issue that boils down to only two options.

There are a few more important factors:
- Criminologists estimate that greater than 80% of gang revenue is derived from marijuana sales.
- One of the main reasons that marijuana is considered a "gateway drug" is due to its illegal status and the pattern of lies in education (especially DARE). Many young people believe that "marijuana isn't nearly as bad as they say, maybe the others aren't" (cocaine, crank, heroine, mushrooms, etc). In this manner, alcohol isn't a gateway drug -- the gateway occurs when law-abiding citizens make a decision to break the law.

Most people agree that marijuana use isn't any more harmful than alcohol use (and may be LESS harmful). The real question at hand, as I reckon it, is whether individuals have the right to use drugs recreationally or not if they break no other laws. If the answer is yes, marijuana should be legal (and possibly a handful of other drugs). If the answer is no, we should seriously look at re-instituting prohibition. These are the only two logical scenarios. Alcohol as an important piece of "culture" is an illogical argument.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
This is the sort of claim that's easy to make, but hard to justify though. I would think the reverse is true - criminization causes some harm but prevents more harm than it causes.

1. nope

2. really, nope. The social utility of the prohibition against marijuana is a classic example, at this point, of counterproductive use of state resources. It incurs enormous costs and diversion of resources with the involvement of law enforcement, the justice system, and incarceration.

The united states has higher rates of cannabis consumption than the netherlands, where such activity is perfectly legal. The trillions of dollars spent waging war against a substance less harmful than tobacco and alcohol has produced no positive social effect, never measurably 'reduced harm,' given how trivial the harm of recreational marijuana use is compared to other things we may legally opt to do for ourselves, and has come only to the benefit of vile and violent black market trade and drug lords who have reduced Mexico into a borderline failed state, replete with violence and expansive criminal activity that leeches into our borders without any available mechanisms of control.

It's a claim that's easy to make because it is incredibly true.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Most people agree that marijuana use isn't any more harmful than alcohol use (and may be LESS harmful).
Pharmacologically, it's way less harmful. You can't kill yourself by overdosing on pot; pot has significantly fewer long-term health issues associated with its chronic use (it won't kill your liver, for instance), it's much more difficult to become a substance abuser to the point of significant life dysfunction with pot, and, per user, marijuana also incurs much less of a social cost in terms of dollars spent on the care of alcoholism related health problems and social endangerments (drunk driving is worse with alcohol, even accounting for the benefit of discreet home consumption of marijuana due to its illegality).
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Juxtapose
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So I totally misremembered my facts. When Portugal decriminalized posession of most major drugs, usage fell. I really remember the outcome being more nuanced than that, but go figure.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html
quote:
Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.


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