There are some big logical holes in the new "Marijuana. It's more dangerous than we all thought." campaign. Let's look at three commercials individually.

The Gunshot - Two kids are sitting around smoking pot in the study of Boy One's father, and have a series of discussions. Is Boy Two's sister hot? How cool is it that we're smoking pot right here in the middle of the house? Hey, look at this gun! "Is it loaded?" "No." (Bang.)

What political agenda is this ad supporting? Firstly, how likely is it that these two kids smoke pot in the big room that their parents use with all the windows? Secondly, how likely is it that Boy One's father leaves a loaded gun lying around in a room that smells like pot? Nonetheless, this is the closest to legitimate that these advertisements get. However ridiculous the scenario is, it conveys its point. Yes, unlocked guns shouldn't be mixed with drugs. But, then, unlocked guns shouldn't be mixed with anything. But, no, no, the problem is pot. Right.

The Memorial - We zoom in on a portrait by the side of the road surrounded by candles, flowers, et cetera. An average youth sits next to it, in despair. Captions (roughly): "Johnathan was killed at age 17" "by a driver under the influence" ... "of marijuana." ... "He was the driver."

OK. The new point is that irresponsible use of marijuana leads to motor vehicle-related deaths? Please. 40% of all on-road deaths are caused by alcohol. 18% are caused by the blanket group of "other drugs", "generally used in combination with alcohol". So, among all non-alcohol drugs (when mixed with alcohol, a reactive depressant), two-fifths as many deaths occur as alcohol, a single drug.

Do you see the government attempting to ban alcohol? Driving under the influence of alcohol is, by government statistics, 250% as dangerous as under the influence of marijuana. Drunk driving is fatal. Stoned driving, to coin a term, is much, much safer. Now, statistically speaking, there's more drinking than miscellaneous drug use out there; however, marijuana is very, very common -- depending on where you get your information, it's as common as alcohol. It can almost certainly be said with impunity that alcohol is more dangerous.

MacArthur Parker cheerfully points out (and I agree) that marijuana takes 60 days to fully leave your system; testing positive for marijuana doesn't imply that the driver was high at the time of the accident. He also notes that the commercial never states when they were tested.

Myrkabah (relatedly) says It helps to remember that THC takes about 3-5 hours to leave your system. Roughly as long as the high lasts. The tests check for inert versions of THC, which, being inert, do not affect you in any way.

The Stadium - A bathroom outside a concert. Two young men smoke pot in poorly painted stalls. Various remarks are made to the effect of "Dude, this rocks." Several different scenarios are shown, as usual. In the last one, a stadium security guard drags one of the gentlemen out by the tail of his shirt. Caption: "Marijuana can get you busted."

I'm sorry. This is preposterous. This commercial displays "Marijuana. It's more dangerous than we all thought," at its end, just as every other one has. What, exactly, makes marijuana dangerous in this commercial? A government-levied ban on it, that's what. The dangers of marijuana are now limited to being jailed on a trumped-up charge of possession. The government's anti-drug campaign is self-defeating in this case, just saying "Drugs are dangerous because if you use them freely, we'll throw you in jail."

One more, added 10-04-2003: One commercial informs you that your drug money goes to support terrorism. Dialogue such as "I murdered 30,000 Bolivian children." I barely feel the need to touch on this one -- I'm sure that buying pot from your buddy Jim who grows it in his apartment makes me a bad person. (Not like the government! The government's never funded terrorists!) Anyway, I'm not sure this is part of the same campaign, so this bit will be all I say about it.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Addendum: The purpose of this node is not to point out that the use of marijuana is right or wrong. I don't really feel strongly either way; I merely hate idiotic, hypocritical commercials.

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