Meth Freaks and Other Forms of Law Enforcement

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Let's face it: We're all as tired as a long-haul trucker of the latest cycle of methamphetamine-scare stories.

But law enforcement, especially at the federal level, is just getting cranked up, as this Wash Post article makes clear:

400 Arrested in U.S. Methamphetamine Raids:
Administration Launches Web Site Aimed at Teenagers

…Facing growing criticism that the federal government is not doing enough to combat methamphetamine use, the Justice Department yesterday announced the results of a week-long raid of drug suppliers and manufacturers and unveiled a Web site aimed at dissuading teenagers from taking up the drug.

More here. You'll read about a growing number of arrests–a stat easily manipulated by cops and one clearly influenced by media hysteria (if the press says there's a meth panic, we better bust some meth labs, which in turn fuels more press)–but search in vain for any sign of increasing use or devestation linked to meth.

The one novelty here: The unveiling of the taxpayer-funded Web site Just Think Twice, which is aimed at teens and features the old rotting teeth gag as the ultimate anti-meth tactic.

Snort a few lines of recent Reason coverage of Methapalooza 2005 here, here, here, and here. And for a key to understanding the large "new drug of choice" narrative for which the press has a Tony Montana-like appetite, go here.

NEXT: Big Thirst

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  1. From the DEA anti-meth site:

    “A word about prohibition: lots of you hear the argument that alcohol prohibition failed—so why are drugs still illegal? Prohibition did work.”

    Hol-eey shit. Where to begin?

  2. They swear that mj is a “gateway” drug. Since it’s been over ten years for me, I really need to get off my ass and try something like this.

    But damn, the couch is so comfy..

  3. The “READ MORE>>”s on the Just Think Twice site couldn’t help but remind me of the announcer’s voice from “Starship Troopers”, asking me if I wanted to know more about the propoganda…

  4. If I was a teenager and Marijuana Girl offered me some pot, there would be no way I could say no.

  5. Rich: I’ve heard that Prohibition worked for many years now, but the arguer never quite establishes what the goal was. A similar phenomenon occurs when the discussion turns to the Chrysler bail-out.
    I, in response, declare that the Kennedy asassination worked, as it’s primary goal was to remove a sitting president from office, as well as this mortal coil.
    In short, the argument that something “worked” is used when there is no sufficient way to prove that it was ethical.

  6. The DEA site is a very classic example of propoganda. Very light on facts, very heavy on emotion, and relies very much on the “end of discussion – just do as I say”.

    I find it bizarre that a highly reactionary site openly attacks Big Tobacco (a big contributor to the Republicans), the alcohol industry, and the free market in general.

    I am very genuinely frightened by this political breed.

  7. Re: the Marijuana girl/stinger exibit. Do these people not realize that Reefer Madness has become a joke? Are they really that tone deaf?

  8. Well they are bloody crazy, good reason to fear them. Personally, I’m less scared of a 7′ tall linebacker hepped up on PCP.

  9. I find it bizarre that a highly reactionary site openly attacks Big Tobacco (a big contributor to the Republicans), the alcohol industry, and the free market in general.

    I guess Big Tobacco and the alcohol industry isn’t donating enough to the Elephanters. And there’s a not insignficant number of conservatives who are down on the free market.

  10. I’ve heard that Alcohol Prohibition did indeed reduce the amount of liquor consumed per capita. It wouldn’t surprise me if that statistic, in and of itself, is true. I mean, when you increase the risk and cost of an activity, it generally declines.

    Of course, I don’t have those figures in front of me. It’s also possible that the cost increases were offset by changes in market dynamics: Driving the activity underground may have led to more reckless binge drinking. The allure of the forbidden may have increased drinking among certain age groups. Higher risk may have motivated larger purchases to reduce the number of transactions needed. And so forth.

    Anyway, even if Alcohol Prohibition did reduce alcohol consumption, there’s still the problem of the Mafia’s body count during Prohibition…

  11. From the DEA website linked above:

    A word about prohibition: lots of you hear the argument that alcohol prohibition failed—so why are drugs still illegal? Prohibition did work. Alcohol consumption was reduced by almost 60% and incidents of liver cirrhosis and deaths from this disease dropped dramatically (Scientific American, 1996, by David Musto). Today, alcohol consumption is over three times greater than during the Prohibition years. Alcohol use is legal, except for kids under 21, and it causes major problems, especially in drunk driving accidents.

    This may very well be true. The problem with alcohol prohibition is that in the midst of this great sobriety epidemic there was a heavily armed guy who went to my great-grandfather and said “You have a pretty wife and kids. You want them to stay that way? Then don’t ask any questions about what we’re storing in your basement.”

    Interestingly enough, that heavily armed guy stopped bothering my great-grandfather after Prohibition ended. Coincidence, I’m sure.

  12. Now I realize that Kiki Camarena is the patron saint of the DEA, but does the general public actually care enough to justify making a feature story on him one of the lead items on a webpage for a teen audience?

  13. Marijuana Girl is a fox.

    I think the most effective anti-marijuana ad the DEA ever made was the one where it’s a young kid talking about his older brother. The kid says that nothing bad happened to his brother after he started smoking weed, he just got really lazy and did stuff slower. Kind of resonates with me, the way some of my friends are…

  14. and also, on the “Prohibition worked” page, the infographic caption is great:

    The Drug market is controlled by greedy individuals and organizations who believe they can make a living… OFF YOUR CHOICES.

    I guess anyone who has ever owned a business counts as a “greedy individual” then.

  15. Alcohol consumption was reduced by almost 60% and incidents of liver cirrhosis and deaths from this disease dropped dramatically

    Possibly true. But what are the statistics concerning permanent alcohol-induced blindness and instant death from bathtub gin? How many people killed by a Mafia that never would have gained a foothold if not for Prohibition?

    I remember when I was teaching, the town’s weekly newspaper had this one utterly ridiculous issue: front-page story praising the fact that a da-a-a-angerous drug dealer had been arrested, and a major (two-page) story in the middle of the paper interviewed some elderly citizens who were bootleggers back in the day, and laughingly told stories of how they outwitted the cops to smuggle hooch in from Canada.

  16. First they tell us to “just say no”, now we’re supposed to “think twice”? It’s all too confusing for these Ritalin kids. Hell, I used to think that “stop, drop and roll” was government incouragement for marajuana use.

  17. RC:

    I know the ad that you’re talking about (the kid lamenting about his pothead brother). Yeah, I too was initially impressed. It appeared to be the most moderate message these liars have ever offered.

    But as I thought about it more, it occurred to me that the underlying issue was not weed, but DEPRESSION. That brother could easily be a drunk, for the same exact reason. The people behind the ad were again being dishonest by promoting a symptom over a cause.

    If the brother pulled himself out of his hole, developed a healthy emotional state, and became active in something positive, he simply wouldn’t have time to get high every day. I think most potheads understand this.

  18. Well, the “Prohibition did work” reference is locked away in Scientific American’s pay for viewing archives. However, the author of the paper, Dr. David Musto, was interviewed by PBS’s Frontline a while back regarding marijuana prohibition. The interview can be found here. My favorite part is the quote on how it is “naive faith that simply passing horrendous laws is going to cause the drug problem to go away”.

    Article Link is Here

  19. I don’t disagree that the site is melodramatic and the problem is overdramatized but it isn’t a gag that tweaker’s teeth rot out. That’s exactly what happens. Sure, it isn’t going to happen because you did a line to stay awake at the party. But if you spend enough quality time with Brother Crank you’ll be needing that dental insurance.

    Annie Kep On Speedin’ Regards, TWC

  20. Apart from the content of the site, for pete’s sake, if our federal government is going to publish material for perusal by the entire networked planet, you would think that they would invest some of the taxpayers’ dollars into an editor or a friggin’ spellchecker prior to publication.

    How does the US government put a MISSPELLED WORD on the front page of one of their websites?!?! Under the “got meth” girl, they write “…users quickly spiral into despair and degredation.” Last time I checked, the word was spelled “degradation” – ya know, like, “degrade,” make bad, etc.!?!? ugh.

  21. I like how they show an Al Capone caricature under the heading, “The drug market is controlled by greedy individuals who believe they can make a living off your choices”

    Damn, greedy pharmacuetical companies!

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