Drug Policy

Drug Propaganda Thursday


A theme you'll often hear from our editor is how the drug war permeates damn-near every nook and cranny of American life. We get lectured on what chemicals we can and can't ingest in our schools, in magazines and newspapers, in television shows and commercials, in movies, on billboards—it's everywhere. Drug war insanity influences criminal justice policy, foreign policy, budget policy, education policy, and health care policy. While traveling over Thanksgiving, I was treated to a "Just Say No to Drugs" emblazoned on the back of an semi-trailer hauling office paper.

A guy can't even take a piss without being bombarded with the madness, thanks to the proactive drug warrioring by the janitorial suppy company Swisher. I've been meaning to snap a picture like those below for Drug Propaganda Thursday. I've just yet to have a camera handy when I'm in a public bathroom. Also, I'd guess even if I did, I'd get some weird looks if I were to actually whip out a camera in a public bathroom.

Fortunately, sex columnist Dan Savage did my dirty work for me, and posted the results below, which first appeared on the blog for the Seattle alterna-weekly, The Stranger.


NEXT: Last Call on Commuter Trains?

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  1. I see those all the time. I just view them as a chance to piss on the drug war.

  2. Its also funny that its a message often being covered in piss full of drugs legal and non-legal. However this is a private effort that one can conceive of exists even in an environment where we have a market-based regulatory system for dealing with currently illegal drugs.

  3. We must be pretty progressive out here in Californicate because we’ve had those for years. Maybe cuz Nance lives here.

  4. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the person who came up with the idea of anti-drug messages in urinals was high at the time.

  5. Has anyone seen the new ads that try to compare drug use with leeches?

    Is that really the best argument the Prohibitionists can come up with these days?

  6. The horrible thing is that I find myself pondering chemically sensitive urinal inserts that would change color if, say, THC was present.

    Of course, that’d be impractical for continuous re-usability, but someone’s probably working on it…

  7. I have NEVER taken advice from a urinal cake. Never have, never will.

  8. Can somebody who’s a lawyer or legal scholar please explain how it could possibly be constitutional to ban drug use?

  9. I was on a three-week crack, meth, PCP, LSD, DMT, N20, airplane glue, psychedelic toad, banana peel, cooking sherry binge. Then I saw one of those and it changed my life.

  10. Amy,

    I’m no legal scholar, but from what I’ve read, it’s not constitutional, but that’s not a deterent to Congress and the majority of the American people. We are no longer a republic; we are a democracy (mob rule).

  11. As a pedant, I find the bad type layout particularly offensive. I usually read it as “SAY NO TO SWISHER DRUGS.”

  12. Amy,
    Drug use is not, and hopefully cannot be banned. However, drug posession (which preceeds use) is banned via a very crappy Supreme Court decision in 1942 (Wickard v. Filburn) that determined that congress could control any and all items on the basis that they may contribute to interstate commerce and therby fall under the commerce clause of the Constitution even if the item never enters the trade stream (eg, pot grown for personal use).

    This one ruling, and subsequent upholdings of it, are what legally allow congress to develop and maintain the Schedule of Drugs and make laws regarding possesion and distribution without having to amend the constitution as was necessary for alcohol prohibition.

  13. if i could figure out how to post photos, i’d show some fortune cookies we bought at safeway. on the front of the fortune is the usual charlie chan blurb, along with a string of numbers (presumably lottery suggestions). on the back is… an anti-drug message.

    i assume that the juxtaposition of the anti-drug and pro-gambling message was a tribute to bill bennett.

  14. I’m not sure why everyone is ragging on these anti-drug urinal liners. Why, not 5 years ago, I was in the middle of one of my many regular heroin highs. I stumbled into the bathroom at a truckstop (gotta earn that h money somewhere, right?) and staring me in the face was a message that changed my life: Say No To Drugs. And who can disagree with the demands of a janitorial supply company? Ever since that fateful day, I’ve been clean as a whistle…and when I do get “the itch”, I look over at the wall, see my framed Swisher urinal pad (yes, it’s the original from my “awakening”), and I know the path I must take.

    Thank you, Swisher Janitorial Supply. Your message changed my life!

  15. Hey edna…

    register an account free at photobucket.com. upload your pics. link to them here. simple as that.

  16. Don’t eat the big white mint.

  17. I’m too busy reading the inspiring messages on the wall to pay any attention to the urinal.

  18. The horrible thing is that I find myself pondering chemically sensitive urinal inserts that would change color if, say, THC was present.

    The trick would be to get them to change back.

  19. I know this article’s focus is on the deficiencies of the drug war, but the contentious anti-drug message is probably present as an outcome of private contracts between Swisher and its buyers and Swisher and the government (assumption).

    Even if the government offered a sufficient price to make production and redesign worthwhile and to account for revenue lost from urinal owners who oppose drug prohibition, this product exists due to a non-coercive, privately arranged contract. Swisher may have even gained an edge over its competitors if urinal owners are keen on supporting drug prohibition.

    I, like most of view, do not support the drug war, but there are plenty other thoroughly flawed examples of its failure to exploit before scraping this from the bottom of the barrel.

  20. On a side note; Dan Savage is a total douche.

    He’s the “tails” to Jonah Goldberg’s “heads”. I use to read his column regularly. But eventually I figured out he’s just another myopic-pea-head that thinks everyone should live as he does. All the while, going on about how society should embrace all sexual orientations (except a couple he finds personally repulsive) and oh yeah, “no fat chicks”.

  21. Strange coincidence, but Reefer Madness is playing on cable right now.

    Ironic observation in the early going: the guy mentioning how marihuana was being sold in schools and army posts in NYC. 1936 and the grunts were toking up!

  22. I wonder how long it took Radley to find that clean a bowl. None of the usual er.. shall we say variety of matter in it.

  23. Oops sorry, Radley is innocent. It’s a propaganda pic!

  24. I’ve always enjoyed urinating on that message. Somewhat relatedly, the strangest message I’ve ever seen on a urinal mat was in Boise Idaho, it read: “Shake that, but never shake a baby.” Not sure if there’s been a rash of shakings in that town or perhaps it’s a commentary on British nannies standing up when they pee…

  25. I also like the cement trucks with the word “drugs” and a line through it.

  26. I really like the anti-drug ad that compares drugs to leeches. It’s the only genuinely funny and entertaining anti-drug ad I’ve ever seen.

    It’s sort of a running joke with my wife and I now, we like to remark how much more fun something would be if only we had a couple leeches…

  27. To Danny Fresh,
    No doubt the anti drug message here is the simple result of free market interaction between maintainors of public bathrooms and their supply companies. The invisible hand (though no invisible hand job) is at work. No other explanation suffices. Your fellow free-market fan.

  28. Maybe it’s a NYC thing but I’ve never seen one of these urinal messages before. And… “Say No To Drugs”? It’s so… eighties.

  29. Brian and Danny Fresh

    While it’s true that noone’s rights are at stake here, this ad does represent the kind of bullshit obsession this society has with druuugggzzzz.

    I think it is sometimes appropriate to comment on stupid behavior even if it is entirely voluntary.

  30. Rumor has is the next great thing is a urnial cake support that is chemically sensitive to various drugs–essentially able to perform a rough urinalysis–and will change colors depending what is detected in the user’s “stream.”

    Look for drug cops to begin hanging out in the bathroom of your favorite club soon. Down the pike a little, RDIF chips will be added that can transmit the results of the test to a remote polling receiver. Then one cop can monitor multiple restrooms.

  31. er, “RFID,” and did I make that up or is it really going to happen?

  32. Oh, I see Eric the .5b beat me to it. damn.

  33. Isaac,
    I was trying to be sarcastic but I was a little wasted when I wrote the last post.

  34. I was so drunk I could barely prop myself up on the urinal. I got so wasted, I peed on myself a little bit when I burped, and peed a little more when I laughed at myself for peeing on my pants. I’m not sure how much pee actually made it into the urinal because I blacked out mid-stream. My shoelaces still smell like piss. But I will never stoop to doing drugs. >:)

  35. My guess is that it’s the result of a a deal between Swisher and Anheuser-Busch.

  36. Isn’t this sexist? How will wimmyn know that drugs are bad?

  37. good question phartizan. i was wondering that myself.

    and, i’ve never even heard of such a thing as a urinal cake before.

  38. “””the strangest message I’ve ever seen on a urinal mat was in Boise Idaho, it read: “Shake that, but never shake a baby.”””

    There is something wrong about Boise wanting you to think about babies while your holding your shlong?

  39. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any public health messages or propoganda in a public toilet before. I wonder why men are targeted in them, but not women.

  40. Thanks, Kwix. I wonder why this has yet to be overturned as bad law. I mean, aside from all the nimrods who’d like to keep it from being overturned. You’d think Ethan Nadelman or somebody would be going after it great guns.

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