Drug War

This Is How the Army Talks to Soldiers About Marijuana

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Anti-marijuana pamphlet

While the rest of the nation is slowly but surely relaxing its stance on marijuana, the U.S. Army is here to remind soldiers that the ultra-conservative never goes out of style with a pamphlet titled Marijuana: Stone-Cold Stupid. It's just one of many alarmist offerings from Prevention & Treatment Resource Press that is sure to make you nostalgic for your last midnight screening of Reefer Madness.

Here's a typical passage that shows the lengths the writers have gone to demonize a substance that 50 percent of Americans believe should be legal:

Marijuana's effects can be unpredictable. The effects that abusers are seeking include relaxation and giddiness. Pot smokers laugh at anything—funny or not. Many users become dizzy, have difficulty walking, and have red, bloodshot eyes. Terrible thirst—"cotton mouth"—and hunger—"the munchies"—are typical. Some people fall asleep when they use pot. Others experience anxiety or paranoia every time they use the drug.

There are also bullet lists of unsupported claims and cherry-picked factoids. For example:

  • Marijuana is the most commonly abused illegal drug, but it is not as common as you might think: About 80% of young people never use it.
  • Being in a room with marijuana smoke can cause a "contact high" from just breathing.
  • In one study, 33% of arrested reckless drivers tested positive for marijuana.
  • Possession of marijuana is illegal. Charges carry high fines and jail time.

I question that 80 percent figure in bullet one. The Organization of American States reported in 2008 that more than 102 million Americans over the age of 12 have used marijuana in their lifetime. That's 41 percent. And the study that the writers mention in bullet three failed to factor in all the reckless drivers who were clearly intoxicated by alcohol, skewing the percentage towards marijuana.

It's a good thing, however, that the pamphlet highlights the fact that marijuana is illegal. That alone is what makes marijuana more dangerous to use—by the publishers' own admission—than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana's listed short term effects can't hold a candle to those of alcohol (tough to beat coma and death!), and its long term effects are no worse than what a long-time cigarette smoker can expect.

The U.S. Army spends between 19 and 33 cents on each one of these pamphlets (there are tables overflowing with them at every base), and all they do is insult the intelligence of those men and women who have chosen to serve their country.

[Disclosure: The writer is a proud member of the U.S. Army Reserves.]

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  1. You know, if I didn’t absolutely know better, I would almost think that the Armed Forces considers its soldiers as little more than clueless, easily-manipulated, brain-dead, bullet catchers.

    1. That’s just the infantry; the rest of us don’t catch bullets.

  2. That pamphlet is some cornball shit. Jeesh.

    http://www.ptrpress.com/media/…..da97-1.jpg

    1. The picture on the bottom right, is that a zombie?

    2. Just like all the other anti-drug propaganda out there.

      THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGZ WITH RACHAEL LEIGH COOK

      1. If you smoke pot you’ll be able to understand your dog but it’ll turn out he’s judgmental asshole!

        1. See, I took it mean that Rachael Leigh Cook would show up at my house and we’d get more high and then things would go from there. But then again, I have to admit I used to think that a lot.

  3. During my time in the Marines then the National Guard nobody ever talked to me about marijuana. If a Soldier or Marine failed a drug test he was immediately demoted. If he failed again, he was booted out with an General Discharge.

    1. No annual briefing on the Army Substance Abuse Program? You are so lucky. I’d cry if I tallied up the hours wasted on mandatory annual snoozefests briefings.

    2. Yeah, I don’t get the point of this rubbish – piss hot, get thrown out. Somebody must have a relative in the printing business.

  4. “Marijuana’s effects can be unpredictable. The effects that abusers are seeking include relaxation and giddiness. Pot smokers laugh at anything?funny or not. Many users become dizzy, have difficulty walking, and have red, bloodshot eyes. Terrible thirst?”cotton mouth”?and hunger?”the munchies”?are typical. Some people fall asleep when they use pot. Others experience anxiety or paranoia every time they use the drug.”

    Most of this could be said about booze.

    1. Well, if it makes you feel better the military has been demonizing alcohol for some time now.

    2. Yeah, except when talking about booze, most of it would be true.

      have difficulty walking

      Geez, get fucking real.

  5. Actually, while 80% may in fact be a bad statistic, it is very possible for 41% of Americans have tried marijuana and 80% of YOUNG Anmericans have never tried marijuana to be true at the same time. Understand the difference in the populations being studied – many people partake for the very first time as young adults, and the military often deals with people straight out of high school. I would like to see the source, methodology, and dates for the two statistics, before commenting on their veracity.
    As for cherry picked factoids, that a drug substance which is volatalized by heating or burning can cause second hand effects should not be seen as such an outrageous assertion. My wife, having never smoked in her life, suffered nicotine withdrawal just from leaving home, where her parents were heavy tobacco smokers. She also stopped getting bronchial infections on a regular basis. Yes, the second hand smoke business gets greatly exagerrated, and used to justify stupid laws – like not being able to smoke tobacco in one’s own apartment in certain CA cities – but that does not make the very concept wrong. Let’s be careful.

  6. Nothing, let me repeat NOTHING is like a “UCMJ captive” audience.

  7. They could have at least gotten someone who actually looked like a pot head to pose. That guy looks more like he crawls into the bottom of a six pack every morning for breakfast.

  8. Sounds liek a pretty serious smack down to me dude.

    http://www.EliteProxy.da.bz

  9. Not really seeing the “demonize” part here, Mr. Walters:

    Here’s a typical passage that shows the lengths the writers have gone to demonize a substance that 50 percent of Americans believe should be legal:

    Marijuana’s effects can be unpredictable.

    True. Sometimes you can have a good time, sometimes not.

    The effects that abusers are seeking include relaxation and giddiness.

    The “abusers” thing is over the top, but the other parts sound about right.

    Pot smokers laugh at anything?funny or not.

    “Funny” is a subjective term. I suspect the prohibitionists might have a stunted sense of humor, and think people laughing at them is uncalled for.

    Many users become dizzy, have difficulty walking, and have red, bloodshot eyes.

    Depends on the dose, but sure.

    Terrible thirst?”cotton mouth”?and hunger?”the munchies”?are typical.

    OK, though getting something to drink and eat isn’t all that terrible a thing, IMO.

    Some people fall asleep when they use pot.

    Yep.

    Others experience anxiety or paranoia every time they use the drug.

    This might have something to do with the drug being illegal, and wanting to not get thrown in a cage, but sure.

    1. I think the above comment was spot on that most of these traits are also applicable to alcohol.

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