While the Office of National Drug Control Policy's new TV spots warn that smoking pot is riskier than it seems, its latest print ad warns that you shouldn't judge the drug trade from your friendly neigborhood pot dealer. "What exactly separates the murderous drug dealers from the ones you buy from?" the headline asks. The ad, which appears in today's newspapers, goes on to suggest that, even if the guy you get your drugs from is "nice," "harmless," and "normal," the same may not be true of "his boss," "his boss's boss," or "that guy's boss."
Leaving aside the fact that the drug trade is violent precisely because it's illegal, the government's argument suggests that it's OK to use drugs supplied by pacifists. As Cathy Young noted in a recent column, the ONDCP's ads could be interpreted as an invitation to grow your own–or, at least, to buy from sources you know to be untainted by violence. Your friend Bob, for instance, who grows pot in his closet and wouldn't hurt a fly. Perhaps a "Produced by Pacifists" label could become a selling point for drugs, just like "Dolphin Safe" for tuna and "Cruelty Free" for cosmetics. I wonder if the ONDCP would be willing to certify qualified dealers.