Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drugs education

I don't know why but I just assumed drugs education would be better now than in 'my day' when it was a series of obvious lies interweaved with a smattering of moral panics and worst case scenario hyperbole. It looks like I might have been wrong.

I've just taken a look at 'ask frank' the government sponsored drugs awareness campaign that is supposed to help young people understand drugs without any of the scare stories or moralistic bullshit that characterised the campaigns in the past. When it was set up the idea was that it would be 'frank' about the fact that people take drugs because they enjoy them and, because they were truthful about that they'd also be able to raise awareness of the risks associated with drug taking.

Here's what they say taking cannabis is like;

I'm not impressed by this one little bit I'm afraid. Literally millions of people in this country smoke cannabis, even if just occasionally. This is not their experience. Anyone who has encountered the drug will know immediately that this video is a ridiculous caricature that sets out to scare people away from drugs rather than inform us about them.

Does this matter? I think so, yes.

Despite my hippy liberal leanings I'm not a great fan of most illegal drugs and don't take any myself. I do want people to be able to make informed choices about what they are doing to their bodies. The moment a government 'information' film goes out of its way to talk utter bollocks to further a different agenda it means that any meaningful or useful information they might also have to tell us is immediately tainted.

If you meet someone who's been smoking dope and they aren't the giggling, forgetful clown munching their way through the larder this film tells you about you understand you've been lied to. Then you meet more smokers and none of them are having panic attacks or behaving like a dancing buffoon and you think; "Actually this stuff is fine. They just don't like people having fun."

It seems to me that the government has two choices. It can tell the truth about drugs, informing the electorate of the benefits and risks of their behaviour in a measured and truthful way - or they can run a down the line anti-drugs campaign that involves ignoring the evidence and telling lies. Only one of these options is in the best interests of the people, and it isn't Frank.

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