New ONDCP Message: Don't Smoke Pot Too Much


The Office of National Drug Control Policy has a new, mildly amusing anti-pot website featuring a faux documentary called Stoners in the Mist (parts of which, I assume, will also be featured in anti-drug PSAs). Although the jokes are mostly ripped off from Cheech & Chong and such pothead-depicting movies as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I suppose I prefer this soft-sell approach to the ads accusing pot smokers of funding terrorism or initimating that it's only a matter of time before they accidentally run over a little girl or blow a friend's head off. Then again, people might be more receptive to subtler lies in an entertaining package, in which case the better propaganda is actually worse.

The mockumentary and the material accompanying it include many misrepresentations (see if you can spot them all!), but the most fundamental one is the conflation of pot smokers with stoners, which is rather like treating all drinkers as drunks. No doubt people who spend most of their lives stoned do have difficulty accomplishing things, relating to others, carrying on conversations, and catching basketballs. This is the grain of truth at the center of the pothead humor from which Stoners in the Mist borrows so shamelessly. But the traditional portrayals are usually gentle, even affectionate, and are especially popular among people who like to smoke pot, who recognize both the realistic aspects and the comic exaggeration. I doubt there are many people who decide to stop smoking weed (or never to try it) after watching Dude, Where's My Car? or Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. By contrast, although Stoners in the Mist resembles a sketch from a weak episode of Chapelle's Show, the ONDCP's intended message is that all pot smokers are losers. In a country where about half the population admits to trying marijuana before graduating high school, and a substantial majority surely knows at least a few pot smokers pretty well by then, who is going to believe this message? Probably only the teenagers who were not inclined to smoke pot in the first place.