Holiday News

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Someone at Columbia University's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse has a wry sense of humor, because they chose April 20 to release a report [PDF] (funded, by the way, by the Office of National Drug Control Policy) claiming that, as the press release puts it:

Children and teens are three times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for alcohol, and six times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for all other illegal drugs combined.

Which should be worrying news indeed: We've apparently persuaded parents that if they find little Johnny smoking a joint, the proper response is to dutifully freak out and ship him to rehab. If—as is at least as likely and more dangerous—he's drinking heavily, well… boys will be boys. Still, enough parents are apparently unable to work up the requisite level of high dudgeon at their cannabis consuming kids, so we've been subjected to a spate of ads aimed, not at convincing kids that it's bad to smoke pot, but at convincing parents that they should give a damn when their kids do. That, I suppose, should be heartening.

The report also finds (from the press release again):

emergency department mentions of the drug among 12- to 17-year olds jumped 48 percent since 1999. Especially troubling is the possibility that this rise in teen emergency department mentions is related to the increased potency of the drug.

Some obvious reactions here: (1) Pot got dramatically more potent between 1999 and 2004? Where? (No, really… where?) (2) Are emergency department "mentions" correlated in any interesting way with pot being a cause of the problem? (3) Is there any way to tell whether that's a function of more stoned people in the hospital, or more people at the hospital admitting to being stoned? Obvious questions, but also questions that would reduce the desired panic-inducing effect of the study.

Happy holidays, incidentally, to the significant contingent of Reason readers who are likely celebrating today.

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  1. Julian, or anyone else:

    Care to enlighten me on the etymology of how 420 came to it’s current meaning. I’d really like to know.

  2. Julian, or anyone else:

    Care to enlighten me on the etymology of how 420 came to it’s current meaning. I’d really like to know.

  3. Cut and pasted response:

    according to Steven Hager, editor of High Times — a publication devoted to marijuana-smoking — the term 420 originated at San Rafael (Calif.) High School in 1971, among a group of about a dozen pot-smoking teenagers now pushing 50. The term was shorthand for the time of day the group would meet to smoke pot. Intent on developing a language unintelligible to adults, they made 420 code for a time to get high. Over the years, it has evolved so that 420, or 4/20, is a day — the day — to get high.

    http://www.southcoasttoday.com/daily/04-03/04-20-03/a10lo043.htm

  4. I am celebrating today like I do everyday. Get up at 5:00 AM, run through my emails over coffee, get a shower, get dressed, head to the office at 7:00 AM. Work until 5:00 PM or so, head home, catch up on the Reason discussions, start dinner, roll a doobie, smoke doobie while watching Hardball, go through the days snail mail, pay bills and file, go back to Reason and review Thoreau’s postings, have a chuckle, roll another doobie for girlfriend coming home, set the dinner table, eat dinner with girlfriend, she rented movie, we smoke doobie, talk about the day, began movie, fall fast asleep halfway through.

    Now is there really anything wrong or out of ordinary with this picture? If you guessed I only smoked 2 doobies instead of 3, you guessed right!

  5. possible drug testing at the company I am interviewing for . I feel like somebody stole the baby Jesus from my manger.

  6. every april 20th i think it is the duty of every american who would like to see the drug war ended to punch, in the face and with full force, anyone uttering or exemplifying the vast and pathetic array of stoner stereotypes, including the 420 sadness.

    420 d00d, indeed. teh sadness.

  7. Dhex-
    One reason for the stoner stereotype is that the only ones who will admit to smoking the debbil weed are those who have nothing left to lose. Teachers and lawyers and judges and stockbrokers dare not admit to their habits, for fear of losing their jobs.

    Hmmph. I would celebrate today’s holiday if only I had the right party favors.

  8. Don’t forget radio DJs who play Bob Marley songs at 4:20 everyday….

  9. Hmm, what am I supposed to be celebrating today?
    The only significance of April 20, that I happen to know of is that it’s Hitler’s birthday.
    Totally clueless…

  10. jennifer: as true as that is, the public face of stonerisms is still a huge problem. they have the big parade each year here in the city which, had they any frickin’ sense, would all attend in suits and ties. THAT would fucking blow some minds, maaaaaaan…

    but that would show some political acumen; practical applications of non-righteous thinking towards the issue goes over like a lead baloon.

    i mean, sometimes it seems everyone in new york smokes weed. the old man down the block…exec types…doctors…schoolteachers by the dozen (i sympathize…i’d be sparkin’ it if i had to do what they do too) and so on. but for fuck’s sake the city is still infested with the doobage brigade and they stick out. they’re a liability.

    madog: someone once told me that my dislike of bob marley (and reggae in general, though i like a lot of dub instrumentals from the same period) displayed a lack of support for 3rd world people.

    he never said 420 though. but he was an african studies major. don’t know if there’s a connection.

  11. Dhex-
    Yeah. Sometimes when I see a NORML representative on TV I wonder if NORML isn’t actually run by extremely Machiavellian anti-smokers who are deliberately trying to make all potheads look like. . .well. . .potheads.

  12. Will someone please answer martin’s question because i’d like to know too ?

  13. martin,
    OK, I get it. Scroll down to Holidays and observances.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_20

  14. i think it is the duty of every american who would like to see the drug war ended to punch, in the face and with full force, anyone uttering or exemplifying the vast and pathetic array of stoner stereotypes, including the 420 sadness.

    Good idea. Maybe next MLK day we should find some jive-talking niggers and beat the shit out of them for the same reason.

  15. Benny Hill died on April 20th. The next one’s for you big guy.

    Joey Lawrence’s birthday, does not make this any better. Woah!

  16. LOL!

    Well, the feds put Tommy Chong in federal prison, so I guess your wish about stereotypes is coming true, dhex!

    Seriously, though, there are a lot of dedicated, non-stoner types doing the hard work of wearing coats and ties and lobbying, etc. (NORML is sponsoring a teach-in in Congress, MPP’s Rob Kampia went into the lion’s den of Mark Souder’s congressional committee last week). Nonetheless, do not underestimate how difficult it is to change the status quo in a country that spends $50 Billion/yr fighting the War on Drugs, including $150 Million for paid propaganda. It’s very difficult to get heard over the propaganda din and media complicity.

    One good way to raise consciousness is to write letters to the editor and follow breaking news…things are changing and there is hope…

    Check out http://www.mapinc.org and http://www.drugsense.org for tips on the news and letter writing…

    J

  17. ahh, but i am not referring to lobbyists, but their would-be footsoldiers. most of the lobbyists get it – though NORML should reform and change their name – but the kids walking around washington square smoking joints and yelling at cops do not get it.

    i mean, people…dress how you want…but if you’re going to a drug legalization rally in public, play the *other* part for a few hours. if nothing else, an entire rally by people who look like, at the very worst, a host of agent smith clones would get attention.

    and of course, no amount of cufflinks could possibly change the appeal of those billions. but for fuck’s sake it would be a responsible first step. 🙂

  18. Putting kids in rehab for pot is the height of irresponsibility. Being in rehab exposes kids to all the war stories of the heroin/coke/meth addicts that are in there, spurring a teenager’s interest in trying *those* drugs.

    Plus it’s an incredible waste of rehabiliation resources to treat pot addiction–something that is never life-threatening.

    – Chris

  19. Putting kids in rehab for pot is the height of irresponsibility. Being in rehab exposes kids to all the war stories of the heroin/coke/meth addicts that are in there, spurring a teenager’s interest in trying *those* drugs.

    Plus it’s an incredible waste of rehabiliation resources to treat pot addiction–something that is never life-threatening.

    – Chris

  20. “madog: someone once told me that my dislike of bob marley (and reggae in general, though i like a lot of dub instrumentals from the same period) displayed a lack of support for 3rd world people.”

    Reminds me of the girl (Asian-Studies major) who told me I was a white-supremacist when I said I was a classics major. (I ran with it.)

    As 420 and birthdays, my cousin was born today (by today, I mean today), so I suppose I’ll have to smoke some of the other, Cuban devil weed as well.

  21. dHex,
    I cordially invite you to attend Seattle Hempfest 2004. It is, and always is, on the 3rd weekend of August. With 200,000 people in attendance over the 2 day event, it is the largest annual political rally in the US. The people who volunteer their time to put this event on, as well as those who come to speak, the vendors who come to sell their goods, and the musicians who come to provide entertainment, are people from all walks of life. The event requires 1,200 unpaid volunteers, 40+ unpaid bands, and over a hundred unpaid speakers. This alone bucks the stereotype that stoners are unmotivated and lazy. Even I take this fine oppurtunity to get out of the office and serve hempfest as the band and speaker coordinator.

    Hempfest has also done well enough to earn the respect of Seattle PD and the city government. Permits are now stamped with minimal, if any, review. I think last year had only 4 arrests total.

    So dHex, the right people are out there, but only the freaks get the media attention. I encourage you and anyone else to take a look at:
    http://www.seattlehempfest.com

  22. Of course it’s three times more often for pot than alcohol….teens find getting pot via the black market about 3 times as easy as scoring alcohol regularly.

    Of course it’s six times more often for pot than other illicit drugs….Pot use accounts for a likely 90% or more of all illegal use.

    It would be more informative to just say, “More kids than ever before are being sent to rehab” with the percentages by drug included as an afterthought.

    Speakin o’ which, guess how you ‘graduate’ from most programs?

    You ‘confess’ or ‘admit'(for you 12 stepper zealots) that you are a ‘drug addict’ or ‘powerless’ over pot.

    Then they hastily compile those admissions into the other cited stat, which is “More kids are addicted than ever before”.

    Oh, as most in here know, at least 2/3 of minors who enter drug rehab of any kind due it under court order, with no preliminary examination or diagnosis to medically support the order. In short, if you use pot, you are automatically an AB-user of drugs.

  23. For the record, the Seattle Hempfest is as big gathering of slackers, old hippies, freaks, misfits, and weirdos as one is likely to find on Earth. Attending it would only reinforce dhex’s opinion. As would attendance at any of Seattle’s other festivals, where there are always armies of burnouts handing out pamphlets for whatever pro-pot initiative is on the upcoming ballot.

  24. Problem:

    Children and teens are three times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for alcohol, and six times likelier to be in treatment for marijuana than for all other illegal drugs combined.

    Solution:

    Quit sending children and teens to treatment.

  25. For the record, the Seattle Hempfest is as big gathering of slackers, old hippies, freaks, misfits, and weirdos as one is likely to find on Earth. Attending it would only reinforce dhex’s opinion.

    JDM, your sideline views of Hempfest keep you misinformed. People from all walks of life are in attendance, even the slackers, hippies, freaks, etc. Keep in mind, it takes hard work and dedication to keep this event continuing through its 13 year history. I am sorry that is something you don’t care to appreciate nor give credit too. Come look me up in the band/speaker check in booth located at the south entrance of Myrtle Edwards Park, I would like to share the experience with you and guide you to the Libertarian Party booth.

  26. As far as where it is getting more potent: Canada.
    See my post the other day about drug dealers in Canada selling the “crack of marijuana” to the US while their government sells useless, arsenic laced pot to patients through their medical mj program.
    Socialized medicine and the black market: its funny cause its sad…

  27. Re Hempfest: “Oh, maaaan! I can’t believe we spaced on the date!”

  28. Would anyone who notices if there is any media coverage of the throngs of collage students that might congregate en masse at their campuses and openly defy prohibition, please report it on this thread?

    It happens at a large university in proximity to me but seems to get no local news coverage.

    I haven’t used pot in over 20 years but I favor its legalization as well as that of all drugs and I like the celebration of defiance of the anti-liberty and muti-tragic government prohibition.

  29. Over the summer I worked cleaning schools and 4/20 was written all over the desks and walls. One of the guys I was working with turns to me one day and says ‘you know why the kids write this?’ and im like, yeah, and then he is like ‘Because it’s hitler’s birthday!’ I then explained to him the relationship between 420 and pot, but I don’t really think he believed me(by the way, I was told that 420 refers to the criminal code number for marijuana possession, has anyone else heard that?)

  30. in my defense, i did spend half my honeymoon in amsterdam and the decor there alone was enough to make me rethink legalization on aesthetic grounds.

    treating pot smoking like it’s an accomplishment is as sad as treating it like it’s the worst fucking thing a 17 year old can do.

    getting high is great fun and all, and obviously should be left to the end user and not the government, but prohibition creates a sad class of painfully stupid art, music and dress that makes my soul ache.

  31. Only a day late, the federal district court appears to have awarded med mj advocates a victory in the WAMM case. It was all over my radio on the late drive home, just 2 hours ago. Why is it that I see NOTHING about that here on Hit & Run? I would think you guys would have been hanging on the judge’s every word.

    So much for the immediacy of the Internet!

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