Drug Policy

I Was Gonna Kill an Orc, but I Got High

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Not only does smoking pot make you sit around all day, the Office of National Drug Control Policy warns, but if you choose to pass the time on your couch by playing video games (a not-unheard-of scenario), you will totally suck at it. The "Above the Influence" Web page devoted to the hazards of playing while stoned features two World of Warcraft–style avatars who ended up in the emergency room because one of their teammates was too baked to back them up. It's at least a little clever, and there's a germ of truth to it. But as usual in the government's anti-drug propaganda, there is no acknowledgment of a middle way between constantly stoned loser and always sober winner. For some people, a little pot might improve performance on certain kinds of games, or at least enhance enjoyment of them. And to the extent that smoking pot interferes with the fun, won't most people figure this out on their own?

Which raises another issue that, depending on how you look at it, counts as either a weakness or a strength of soft-sell anti-drug propaganda like this: To the extent that it's realistic, it just isn't all that alarming. The 2006 "Pete's Couch" ad (to which I linked in the previous paragraph) forthrightly concedes that the effects of smoking pot, contrary to the message of many other government-sponsored ads, are far from disastrous. The chief hazard it identifies is that if you spend all your time getting stoned and sitting around, you will miss out on other aspects of life. Like the "High Gamer" bit, the "Pete's Couch" spot omits some obvious alternatives, such as spending only some of your time getting stoned and sitting around, or combining getting stoned with other activities. More important, it makes marijuana prohibition, with all its attendant harms, look utterly arbitrary and disproportionate. If the strongest argument against smoking pot is that it might discourage you from going out to the movies or that it might impair your ability to conquer virtual battlefields, any viewer paying attention has to question the rationale for banning marijuana. So maybe these ads are performing a public service after all. 

[Thanks to Bob Ewing for the tip.]   

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  1. The Ads are always so funny. Hell CHapele even did a parody of them. Oh and my fav is the new one for pot…. I called my x 20 times last night… i let people draw on me….. i forgot about my friends and they had to ride home…. Next time its on, substitute vodka for Can Sat and then it will make sense. its an anti drinking comercial wrapped up like an anti-drug. and yes i know alcohol is a drug.

  2. It’s at least a little clever, and there’s a germ of truth to it.

    Germ of truth my ass. I make sniper shots in Halo 2 while baked that I could never make sober.

    Drunk, on the other hand, I’ll give you right out.

  3. I called my x 20 times last night…

    There’s a reason it’s called drunk dialing.

    If you have ever played ANY kind of multiplayer game (MMO, shooter, music, or fighting), you will have come across someone with a drug reference in either their user name or clan name in the first half hour of playing (most likely). See, it’s a game. People play them for fun. Fun things can be even more fun when you smoke. I’m sure no one had figured that one out yet though.

  4. See where the demon weed gets you?

  5. The 2006 “Pete’s Couch” ad (to which I linked in the previous paragraph) forthrightly concedes that the effects of smoking pot, contrary to the message of many other government-sponsored ads, are far from disastrous.

    Not sure if it’s the same one, but the gov’t started giving the game away with the whole “if you smoke pot, you might do nothing at all” campaign.

  6. My favorite anti-pot ad still is the one where the high maniacs in a car at a fast food drive-thru are goofing so hard as they pull away from the serving window that they plow into an errant bicyclist.

    The moral here is to never, EVER, laugh while driving. You might kill someone.

  7. Yeah, after viewing the video, it’s the one I was thinking of. See? I still have my short term memory because I quit smoking pot.

    Now where’s my Xanax? I gotta mellow out before Storm of Zehir.

  8. Incidentally, this doubles as an ad for speed.

  9. When my ping pong buddy and I used to take a hit between games, we referred to it as “coaching”. There’s no doubt in my mind that it helped.

  10. My favorite anti-pot ad

    I perfer the classics, “I learned it by watching you” at #1.

    And for generic ONDCP work, nothing beat watching the delictable Rachel Leigh Cook smashing the shit out of her kitchen.

  11. “I learned it by watching you”

    I dropped that line a few weeks ago on someone in their late 20s and they had no clue what I was talking about. A sad, sad day for cheap references.

  12. And for generic ONDCP work, nothing beat watching the delictable Rachel Leigh Cook smashing the shit out of her kitchen.

    Of course. Nothing did more to associate hard drug use with raw sexual arousal.

  13. So what wrong with sitting on the couch? Jesus fucking christ. At least they are staying out of trouble. To think that our government is willing to kill dogs, kill old ladies, suffer corruption, destabilize nations, fester contempt for the law ALL because it doesn’t want Pete sitting on his couch deciding what to do with HIS fucking time.

    I have played WOW drunk, stoned, and drunk and stoned. By far, being drunk had the most detrimental effect. I am a priest and when I am doing instances, I have responsibilities. Being really drunk interferes with efficient healing.

    And Team Fortress 2 (or any modern shooter for that matter) rocks while stoned. Especially if you have surround sound. I loved being the big fat guy with the chain gun.

    Oh yeah, and about 4 years ago I had a bike wreck that fucked up my shoulder and back for a good year and I was completely sober. I’ve never been injured playing WOW.

  14. Thats it, I am going to go smoke a phattie and kick some ass on TF2.

    I am not sure how many xbox achievements I have unlocked high, but at least a few dozen, and I am a causal gamer. I know stoners who’s lives are dedicated to pawnage while baked.

  15. Pot actually makes me more active, not less. All the boring things you have to do in life like washing the dishes, mowing the lawn,or cleaning the house are kind of fun when you’re high. If I don’t have any house work to do. I’ll go for a bike ride or lift weights.

  16. Marijuana is keeping people from winning Warcraft. Quick, send another million people to jail!


  17. Germ of truth my ass. I make sniper shots in Halo 2 while baked that I could never make sober.

    Drunk, on the other hand, I’ll give you right out.

    By the the time you get good at Halo, most of the playing is just instinct. In some situations, removing the thinking from the process is a plus.

    Additionally, playing Halo drunk has a huge upside: It cheapens the losses and enhances the victories. Who cares if that guy out BRed you? You’re smashed, big deal if he beats a drunk guy. But, OH MY GOD, did you see that? I just owned that guy. I’m fraking awesome!

    Additional:

    “I learned it by watching you”

    I dropped that line a few weeks ago on someone in their late 20s and they had no clue what I was talking about. A sad, sad day for cheap references.

    Early 20’s and I have no idea what you are talking about.

  18. I would also contend that the first few beers enhances your skills at video games, ping pong, and most definately, tennis.

  19. My Halo skills improve tenfold when stoned, and Oblivion can be genuinely scary when stoned, alone in a dark room.

    I also play drums better stoned.

    But I suppose, since I get tired of midless chit-chat easily while stoned, I and a million others should be thrown in jail for anti-social behavior or some shit…

    Whatever. Scientology makes more sense…

  20. But maybe not grammer.

  21. Also bowling and darts. Golf I have a 2 drink cutoff per 9 holes if I still want to break 100.

  22. Pot actually makes me more active, not less. All the boring things you have to do in life like washing the dishes, mowing the lawn,or cleaning the house are kind of fun when you’re high.

    Also this.

    By the the time you get good at Halo, most of the playing is just instinct. In some situations, removing the thinking from the process is a plus.

    And this.

  23. Oblivion can be genuinely scary when stoned, alone in a dark room.

    Fucking A. Another one like that is Bloodlines.

  24. I guess we could now feature an ad:

    These are the residual effects of pot on the President of the United States.

    Cut to Obama signing crazy-shit budget-busting legislation.

    Then we could show W doing a line.

    Cut to the Iraq War.

  25. yeah. i’d say all those guys who effed up the economy were not smoking weed and looking they did to us.

  26. Smoking weed may well be the most committed crime in this country. At least I hope so. Sadly, I think theft may beat it out. Perjury?

  27. LMNOP,

    We’re in a recession, new games and/or modded consoles are out of the budget…

    Abortions, however…

  28. Smoking weed may well be the most committed crime in this country. At least I hope so. Sadly, I think theft may beat it out. Perjury?

    Speeding, duh!

    Although I never speed while high. Funny, huh?

  29. “If the strongest argument against smoking pot is that it might discourage you from going out to the movies or that it might impair your ability to conquer virtual battlefields…”

    It depends on the weed.

  30. “Fun things can be even more fun when you smoke.” I beg to disagree with this! You can enjoy playing MMO like World of Warcraft without having to smoke, right?

  31. “It depends on the weed.”

    Very true. There’s a big difference between Mexican brick weed & the expensive home grown variety.

  32. “I perfer the classics, “I learned it by watching you” at #1.”

    I always liked the one where the voiceover guy asks the nice young black man if he smoked weed. The guy smiling all hip and cool like says “Yeah, man. I get high with my friends”

    Then the VO guy asks, “What would you do if you caught your little sister smoking weed?” and the nice young black man angrily agitated replies, “I’d break her head!”

  33. This is far and away the best PSA ever.

    It’s not for pot, but is hilarious.

  34. “This is far and away the best PSA ever.”

    I’ve done that*. Straight as an arrow at the time too.

    *w/o the bullying

  35. You can enjoy playing MMO like World of Warcraft without having to smoke, right?

    I did refer to playing games as doing a “fun thing.”

  36. The Democrats sneaked a provision into the omnibus spending bill that cleared the Senate today which closes down the school choice program in Washington, D.C. Schoolmates of the Obama children benefit from the program, and, as we noted here, Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs was tongue-tied when asked about the President’s position on the issue.

    There was some hope that the Democrats, once the public started to become aware of what they were up to, would back off. But it was not to be. Senate Democrats killed the D.C. scholarship program today 50-39, on a mostly party line vote. The teachers’ unions got what they wanted.

  37. There exists no argument against smoking pot. It is the individual’s prerogative.

    If he choses to go to work high, he risks his employment. That is his choice. Fair enough.

    Case Study:

    How many airline pilots have been fired due to committing pilot error (after which a drug-test is immediately required) and then found to have THC in their system?

    How many airline pilots during random testing (i.e. no pilot error incident) have been fired due to testing positive in a drug test for THC?

    How many airline pilots have committed pilot error and after testing no THC was found (Control).

    Anyone have these figures? As much as I hear the ‘Would you rather have your pilot after a joint or after a drink’ I think it would be a good thing to quantify the scenario.

    My gut instinct is that pilot careers have high enough barriers to entry that those who eventually filter through are much better police of themselves than any government police.

    Let’s face it. If he fucks up a plane, he knows he damn well better be sober in every sense of the word. His management team would shit-can him way before the government.

    The government would say, “Poor guy had a dependency problem or the physical stress got to him or substance abuse was systemic in his family” ergo rehabilitation. If airlines are tolerant of errant employees, believe me, it’s from fear of retaliation by the government by not being sensitive enough.

  38. I was able to do some incredible things on NHL ’94 while stoned. It’s definitely a performance enhancer.

  39. “What are you, chicken?”

    “I’m not a chicken, you’re a turkey!”

  40. Fucking A. Another one like that is Bloodlines.

    The haunted hotel mission made me feel like a little girl, even though I was completely sober at the time. Playing it on a hallucinogen that can be accompanied by paranoia would have been traumatizing.

  41. [Taktix? | March 10, 2009, 7:14pm…I also play drums better stoned.]

    Often claimed, rarely true (hippie drum circles evolved from this claim, I do believe).

    What is more likely true is that you enjoy how you play drums more when you are stoned. Of course that can lead to more time practicing, which can lead to better playing, so…

    What’s that album…taking drugs to make music to take drugs to…

  42. Often claimed, rarely true

    Actually, I’m not sure if it’s universally true, but in my case, being a little high strung at times, the calming effects allow me to be more fluid and less inhibited.

    While I may lose a little sensitivity with dynamics, it’s not a big deal when facing a wall of amplifiers with an acoustic instrument…

  43. Taktix,

    Fair enough, I’ve seen it work that way before.

    But, only rarely.

    =/:)

  44. It always improved the video game skilz of my friend of a friend of a friend when he smoked. Pretty substantially, actually, at least for the action games.


  45. What’s that album…taking drugs to make music to take drugs to…

    Spaceman 3

  46. How’m I gonna roll a good katamari if I don’t roll a good doobie first?

  47. Marijuana shows up on tests a full 4 weeks after its use. If a pilot smokes a joint on Friday, and is involved in a mishap two mondays hence, you can be sure his positive test for weed will be a feature of the blame game. Had the same guy been doing barbiturates, meth, heroin, cocaine, PCP and shrooms? He’d have tested clean and it was an accident.

  48. The haunted hotel mission made me feel like a little girl, even though I was completely sober at the time. Playing it on a hallucinogen that can be accompanied by paranoia would have been traumatizing.

    Just with the lights off was enough for that one. Another that comes to mind is the Ravenholm mission from Half-Life 2.

  49. Just with the lights off was enough for that one. Another that comes to mind is the Ravenholm mission from Half-Life 2.

    I was having too much fun with the gravity gun + rusty circular saw blades and with fire to be creeped out at the time. The “awww fire, fire, fire, fire, rggghg” the zombies made when torched was probably my favorite part of the game.

  50. Exactly, 4065. The Who- The Dirty Jobs. Pot should be the ‘high’ number. Anyone really know?

    How many times has it been tagged to Pilot Error. How many times to failure of drug test? What is the correlation?

    I suspect none. I suspect that drug users know the limits of their usage vis-a-vis their jobs. Certainly better than the governing bodies. Why would a ‘high’ pilot ever want to land?

    Those that don’t are just as or most likely to be busted by the most ubiquitous substance in abuse, good old alcohol.

    Also intuitively, a form of speed would be more likely to be found in a working pilot’s system, if it didn’t have such a speedy half-life.

  51. I always thought the point of that ad was that Rachel Leigh Cook was on heroin, chicks who do heroin are hot, and that I should do heroin to score with chicks like that.

  52. Nothing shows you how “with it” those ONDCP guys are than making a website in 2009, directed at teenagers, that suggests that DOS prompts are still part of everyday computer usage.

  53. This is far and away the best PSA ever.

    It’s not for pot, but is hilarious.

    I beg to differ. That ad was made solely and exclusively for pot.

  54. The stoned people all play hunters so it evens out.

  55. I would also contend that the first few beers enhances your skills at video games, ping pong, and most definately, tennis.

    I absolutely can not throw darts sober. Can’t throw ’em smashed either, but get my genially lubricated and I’m fuckin’ lethal.

  56. my -> me

    I’m genially lubricated right now. Does not improve my spelling.

  57. saw that as genitally lubricated, my bad.

  58. 30 gold for an invisibility cloak isn’t normal…

    BUT ON METH IT IS!

  59. Thanks a lot, Bob Ewing. Sullum really needs to be encouraged to balther on about his most boring subject. Wait a minute, what’s his most interesting subject? Sorry, that’s a trick question.

  60. Early 20’s and I have no idea what you are talking about.

    YOU ALRIGHT! I learned it by watching you!”

  61. I finally was able to view the videos in the original post.

    Wow.

  62. I Was Gonna Kill an Orc, But I Got High
    wow – freshman year summed up in a sentence…

  63. I’m convinced that the marijuana epidemic could lead tot he end of the WORLD!!!

    Of Warcraft.

  64. And for generic ONDCP work, nothing beat watching the delictable Rachel Leigh Cook smashing the shit out of her kitchen.

    De-lick-table indeed. RC’z Law at work.

  65. This is the reason China’s making a killing off selling virtual gold. All of our WOW players are too stoned to realize they’re paying real money for fake money.

    And on “I learned it by watching YOU!”–late 20s, and I get the reference. Luckily for my pop-culture education, my parents weren’t into the keep-your-kids-away from-the-demon-tv-aging-hippie-crap.

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