Marijuana Glasnost: I got high and nothing bad happened. Next time I'll try some stronger bud.

|

Slate's Seth Stevenson gives a thumbs-up review to the ONDCP's new "Pete's Couch" antipot ads, which acknowledge that marijuana is harmless but warn that it may keep you from doing cool stuff like mountain biking and playing basketball:

In the past two decades, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America have made countless TV ads about the evils of illicit drugs. There was the one where that tweaker chick on meth plucked out her whole eyebrow. There was the one where Rachael Leigh Cook smashed up her kitchen. And, of course, there was the granddaddy of them all: the fried egg. ("This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?") I've hated every single one of these ads with a raging, righteous fury. Until now.

This new spot, titled "Pete's Couch," doesn't offend me. It acknowledges that smoking weed on your buddy's sofa is the "safest thing in the world." (Which is true. I actually had a friend named Pete in high school, and we did get high on his couch. No turmoil ensued.) The ad's main contention is that it's important to get off that couch and out into the world, where you can do things like ice skate with other teens. (Also true. It is indeed good to engage with the outside world, instead of just sitting in your rec room. Though I'd note that it's possible to smoke pot in your rec room one day and then go ice skating the next. Or even just smoke pot and immediately go ice skating—which, come to think of it, sounds like a blast. Who's in?)

Watch the commercial.

Stevenson misses one crucial piece of unreality in the commercial, which ends with the hero getting off the couch and walking into a movie theater, with the apparent implication being that you can't go to the movies stoned. I find it almost impossible to sit through a movie normal, but to each his own. For reasons that have everything to do with my numberless character flaws, most of the television I watch is heavy on Army recruiting ads, the Pete's Couch spot, and commercials for Relacore for belly fat and Enzyte for natural male enhancement. I too like the Pete's Couch ad, which for the most part seems as if it could have been made by the Drug Policy Alliance rather than by the Drug Czar.

But isn't that a reason to hate it even more? If the ONDCP were just advertising a drug-free lifestyle without any other incentives, as if it were just another brand of soap, there would be no room to complain. But the commercial remains silent on why so many of Pete's couchmates are dead or in prison for their insufficient interest in mountain biking. So I'm holding out for the sequel: I got high on Pete's couch and nothing happened until the cops came in and shot me, shot my dog, and took all my belongings. The more reasonable the drug warriors try to sound, the more barbaric they look.

NEXT: Low-Yield Cigarettes = High-Yield Lawsuit?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wait, sitting in a movie theater is a good way to be active and enjoy the real world?

  2. Does anyone remember the anti-Pot add where the guys had the munchies and were at the drive through and then accidently ran over the pedestrian? That was one of the most unintentionally hilarious ads ever made.

  3. The ad’s main contention is that it’s important to get off that couch and out into the world, where you can do things like ice skate with other teens.

    I wasn’t previously aware that the ONDCP has taken the role of “nagging mother”.

    But the commercial remains silent on why so many of Pete’s couchmates are dead or in prison for their insufficient interest in mountain biking.

    Hear, hear. Why can’t society accept the fact that some people just don’t want to be social and play nice. Marijuana illegality virtually boils down to the same thing as England’s “anti-social” laws. Just leave the poor kids and their psychoactive toys alone.

  4. I’d go so far as to say that regularly exposing oneself to Hollywood product is more harmful that pot smoking. The ad should end with Pete getting strapped to a Catherine Wheel and copiously excreted upon by a dominatrix. It would be less offensive that way.

  5. “Does anyone remember the anti-Pot add where the guys had the munchies and were at the drive through and then accidently ran over the pedestrian?”

    yeah, it’s actually a little girl on a tricycle.

    the one with the kids and the gun is great too. a friend of mine used that in a video project; after the gun goes off the screen fades to black and white text floats up:

    “i dunno about you guys, but i’d rather clear that bong than that chamber”

  6. I remember an anti-drug ad from a few years ago that was almost good: it took place in what was obviously the bathroom at a rock concert, and the camera focused on a stall which obviously had two guys inside smoking pot. The ad used those fade-in and fade-out shots to demonstrate that a lot of time was passing, but the two guys were still in the bathroom smoking pot. And I thought “Okay, this is actually honest for a change–it is certainly possible that a person might get so involved with smoking pot in the bathroom that he completely forgot about the concert he paid good money to see.”

    But no–the ad ended with a cop walking into the stall and arresting the guys. Moral: don’t smoke pot at a concert, or else you’ll get arrested and ruin your life.

  7. The thing that gets me about that add is doing anything prevents you from doing something else. Sure, smoking pot on your couch isn’t going to be an action packed activity but neither is sitting soberly in a movie theater for 2 hours.

  8. Is it me or are these ads a tacit admission that no one believes the fire and brimstone drug tales? How can you continue to justify prohibition if this is now the most beleivable cautionary tale you can tell?

  9. The solution is obvious: get high on the couch and watch a DVD, preferably Cheech and Chong.

  10. How can you continue to justify prohibition if this is now the most beleivable cautionary tale you can tell?

    Easy, the commericial isn’t targeted at teens. It’s for people who think stoned teens hanging out on the couch is terrifiyingly bad behavior, and will vote for “tough on drugs” politicians.

  11. which ends with the hero getting off the couch and walking into a movie theater

    Didn’t see the commercial, but I can assume it wasn’t a midnight showing of “The Song Remains The Same.”

  12. I’m sure that in my youth my reaction to the ad would have been to shrug and say, sure, but the problem with mountain biking and basketball is that they may keep you from doing cool stuff like getting high and listening to music.

  13. I wasn’t previously aware that the ONDCP has taken the role of “nagging mother”.

    I thought that was all than the ONDCP was…

    mjs

  14. My favorite ONDCP spot was one I only saw a coupla times. Maybe everybody else’s reaction to it was similar to mine, and that’s why they quit showing it. There’s a couple on the couch necking and the more they smoke, the less resistance the girl puts up.

    When I saw that spot, I could see that the drug czar was trying to scare the girl’s parents, but any guy who saw that ad was going to say to himself, Yeah! Now I’ve GOT to get some pot before my next date!

  15. When I saw this, I thought, “This is a direct pull from the South Park episode ‘My Future Self and Me'”. As Randy says at the end of the episode:

    “Well, Stan, the truth is, marijuana probably isn’t going to make you kill people, and most likely isn’t going to fund terrorists, but…well, son, pot makes you feel fine with being bored, and it’s when you’re bored that you should be learning some new skill or discovering some new science or being creative. You smoke pot, you may grow up to find out that you aren’t good at anything.”

  16. Yeah, this commercial pisses me off just as much as the more idiotic ones. If pot is so safe, WHY IS IT ILLEGAL? If the worst thing you can say about pot is that it might cause you to sit on the couch, why is alcohol legal?

  17. “My favorite ONDCP spot was one I only saw a coupla times. Maybe everybody else’s reaction to it was similar to mine, and that’s why they quit showing it. There’s a couple on the couch necking and the more they smoke, the less resistance the girl puts up.”

    Yeah I remember hearing the radio version of that commercial in college and thinking it was total bullshit. Getting high always made me less receptive to sexual advances. It made guys seem big and goofy-looking to me. I just wanted to listen to the music and enjoy my fantastical cannabis induced thoughts.

  18. Hey, if pot were legal, then we could go and do some interesting things like meet some interesting people at our local coffee shop or better enjoy a concert or art exhibition. It’s the law and taboo that keeps me on the couch, afraid to order a pizza, or is that the paranoia?

  19. The solution is obvious: get high on the couch and watch a DVD

    I totally agree. I got stoned and went to the movie theater once (“Parenthood” – yeah it was 20 years ago or something) – NEVER AGAIN. Of course it was like the 2nd or 3rd time I smoked, but still. Some things just make a lasting impression.

  20. I thought the spot made a perfectly good case against couches. Are we going to continue allowing the couch runners from Mexico to ruin our nation? Please think about the children before answering that question.

  21. I’d start smoking pot again if Rachael Leigh Cook would come over in a wifebeater and start smashing things.

  22. Honestly, I would like to see the new Couch Czar re-tooling old anti-drug ads. For instance, we could have two guys at a concert sitting in the bathroom on a leather lazy-boy. Suddenly, a cop walks into the bathroom and smells fresh leather — he’s experienced enough to recognize the scent. Knock, knock, knock — the cop is banging on the door to the bathroom. “Are you punks couching up in there?” he barks. The kids panic and try to jam the lazy boy in the toilet. It?s just too big, but they?re sooooo couched up that they?ve lost all sense of spatial coordination. The next scene shows them making friends in the shower of the local penitentiary, which they now call home thanks to tough new “three couches and you’re out” laws. Unfortunately for them, most lazy boys count as two couches, as the reclining position is technically considered a different couch than the standard position. This particular couch has an Ottoman. Ouch! That?s three, suckers!

  23. Pot doesn’t make you lose interest in doing other things, it just makes you realize that a lot of things aren’t worth doing!

  24. Marijuana ruined my life.

    Wait a minute- it wasn’t actually the marijuana, it was the fucking COPS who ruined my life. And shot my ol’ dog.

  25. Get yer asses out there and start mountain-biking, or all of you bastards are going to jail!

  26. Um, I like to smoke right before I get on my mountain bike and tear up some trails.

    If I was sitting around drinking beer, I would not want to get up off my couch and go mountain biking.

    And which of those two substances (alcohol v mj) is legal?

    I mean, as far as anti-drug ads go, it’s not too bad, but the fact that mj is illegal when the worst thing you can say about it is that you won’t go ice skating because you’re stoned is just ridiculous, as Bruce has already so eloquently stated.

    Fuckers.

  27. Heh, when I first saw that ad It made me think about how sitting on petes couch is much safer and alot more fun IMO then mountain biking. It’s a step in th right irection as far as anti drug ads go, but you can call a microwave a toaster but it’s still a microwave.

  28. If actors, writers, & directors can get stoned and make movies, I don’t see the problem with getting stoned to watch them…

  29. Stevenson misses one crucial piece of unreality in the commercial, which ends with the hero getting off the couch and walking into a movie theater, with the apparent implication being that you can’t go to the movies stoned. I find it almost impossible to sit through a movie normal, but to each his own.

    Nonsmoker here, but back in high school I remember the Guys Who Always Sat in the Back of the School Bus would talk about getting stoned and going to see Star Wars, which didn’t sound like such a bad idea to me. (2001: A Space Odyssey probably would’ve been better, but that was a ways before my time.)

  30. “My favorite ONDCP spot was one I only saw a coupla times. Maybe everybody else’s reaction to it was similar to mine, and that’s why they quit showing it. There’s a couple on the couch necking and the more they smoke, the less resistance the girl puts up.”

    Yeah I remember hearing the radio version of that commercial in college and thinking it was total bullshit. Getting high always made me less receptive to sexual advances. It made guys seem big and goofy-looking to me. I just wanted to listen to the music and enjoy my fantastical cannabis induced thoughts.

    That one really bothered me, because the guys I know who smoke the most, more or less, are they guys least interested in women. That being said, one of the beefs I had with the “Pete’s couch” commercial, is implying that his friends will sit on the couch forever, instead of meeting girls. BELIEVE ME (and I’m surely not the only person here with this opinion/experience), if getting high were a suitable substitute for getting laid, practically no straight man would ever even talk to a woman again. Because believe me, you can’t guarantee getting laid regularly for $40 a week.

    -sam

  31. Sure, smoking pot on your couch isn’t going to be an action packed activity but neither is sitting soberly in a movie theater for 2 hours.

    Well, with the half hour of increased heart rate you get from smoking I’d argue that it is better for you than sitting in a movie theatre. One actually induces a cardiovascular workout, the other has buttered popcorn. Your choice.

  32. oh how tragic…

    http://www.freevibe.com/

    my favorite is “girls and drugs: how to keep your girlfriends happy and healthy!”

    geez, now really which is worse, getting high and having fun, or blindly letting someone else do all the thinking for you.

  33. I wanted to share below from the Nashville newspaper because I’m a Vanderbilt Commodore, A&S, 1965, as well as a Nashville native.
    (I have never smoked nor inhaled mj, other than second-hand. The closest I ever came was just passing a toke. I’m just sayin’. Yes, I didn’t imbibe in VN either.)
    ….
    Tuesday, 09/26/06
    WSJ article says Constance Gee smoked marijuana in Vandy mansion, citing medical reasons

    By RALPH LOOS
    Staff writer

    A story in today’s Wall Street Journal contained a look at oversight by Vanderbilt University Trustees over Chancellor Gordon Gee. Included in the story was the fact that the chancellor’s wife, Constance Gee, has smoked marijuana in the university-owned mansion.

    Michael J. Schoenfeld, vice chancellor for public affairs at Vanderbilt, said today that Constance Gee is on faculty at the university and that he cannot comment on whether or not she was reprimanded for using marijuana in the mansion.

    Along with being married to the chancellor, Constance Gee is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt.
    Gee said the drug was for medical purposes, according to the article.
    For complete coverage, pick up a copy of The Tennessean Wednesday.

  34. Hey if you know someone in the CIA you’ve got the big connect for whatever illicit drug you’re couch sitting friends can think of. And to think we went to war in Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden.. what a joke.. the real reason was to control the opium trade and the oil pipeline.. and who got the big contract for delivering the 12 trillion dollars worth of oil from the Balkans to the Caspian Sea.. non other than Dick Chaney’s Haliburton. I’m waiting for the Fed Ads advocating drug use, not that they need to help Big Pharma with the legal drugging of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters.. its all a grand illusion so they can continue to fuck over the good ol’ American people… oh oh please I like to be kissed when I’m being fucked..

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.