George Bushs Joint

Rebecca Schoenkopf takes on the presidents drug war

Ivan SalazarGeorge Bush's Joint

Rebecca Schoenkopf takes on the president's drug war

Marijuana can be addictive. Marijuana isn't great for learning or short-term memory. Marijuana's not the best thing for children—the best things for children are fresh air, sunshine and love! And if you own a bong (or "water pipe," as the head shops insist upon calling them), the chances are good that you smoke way too much dope. Nobody really needs a bong.

Can we all stipulate to that?

The White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy wants us to stipulate to a little more: that marijuana is far more dangerous than it was when the Boomers smoked it (the Boomers, of course, can't refute this by admitting to smoking it still); that marijuana will turn our precious tots into dropouts who rob banks; that marijuana is, in fact, a scourge upon our youth. To do this, they threw a party. Okay, it wasn't so much a party as a panel put on for the SoCal media, but I love panels, and the sandwiches were excellent.

Tuesday afternoon, I got an invite for the "Marijuana & Kids" media briefing in San Diego the next day. Fantastic. A few minutes later, my dad called to check in and have a nice gossip. My dad is a recovering addict (mostly coke and other uppers) who owns and runs a treatment center in Malibu and also publishes the online magazine Heroin Times. It's a nonjudgmental look at all the facets of heroin addiction, providing information on how to kick it, obits from grieving parents, editorials on the Drug War and referrals on where to get clean.

Would my dad come with me to San Diego? We could board the Amtrak right in Santa Ana and have a delightful day together under the auspices of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. It would be the best day ever!

My dad said yes!

The whole way down to San Diego, we drank coffee in the Coastliner's lounge car and watched the folks on their way to the Del Mar racetrack troop boisterously in for more rounds of beers and bloody Marys. It was 10:30 a.m. A young blond guy several beers in sat with headphones on and stared at me. We avoided his reddened gaze and chatted instead with a man who had overheard us guffawing about the conference to which we were headed.

I'm not a NORML member, but I think prohibitions against pot are preposterous. I find especially outrageous the $170 million budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy—and that's just for ad campaigns and media buys. It doesn't count the billions spent on black helicopters and agent orange for spraying on farms in South America. I even thought Johnny Depp's recent quote about buying pot for his kids when they get older was the most responsible bit of parenting I'd heard in some time.

I grew up with a daddy who was a drug addict, and I have a pretty good grasp on "harmful." Harmful and I go way back. And the occasional pot-smoker ain't it.

Take two drinks at dinner? Get giggly at a party? You're probably okay. Get smashed on rye and drive with your kid in the car? You're probably not. And it viscerally pisses me off when people try to conflate the two. The Office of National Drug Control Policy wants us to know it's a "myth" that marijuana is "harmless." Thanks for the straw man, Office of National Drug Control Policy. Nobody said it was, but for the vast majority of otherwise law-abiding citizens who smoke dope once in a while, it's fine. In fact, we even have a young family member who is addicted to pot; we've had loads of fabulous interventions for him that didn't take, but now that he's a little bit older, he seems to be letting go of all his drop-out, no-job lameness all by himself. Right now he's in school and has a part-time job, and we're very encouraged. Addiction to pot is bad, but even so, he has yet to violently rob a bank. The only person he's hurting is his long-suffering mother, who has to scrimp to pay his rent. Being lazy isn't against the law—yet.

So don't get addicted; keep it to the equivalent of a drink at dinner, and it'll probably lower your blood pressure and cure your glaucoma. I'd like to see the "liberal" mainstream media admit that just once.

Going to the media briefing on "Marijuana & Kids" from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, I had, you could say, an agenda.

The guy on the train lives in a Laguna Beach halfway house and was on his way to Tijuana to gamble. His sponsors say he has given up one addiction for another, but he never bets more than he can afford to lose. He never bets his rent. You know what I say? That that's probably fine.

With the ocean to the west, my dad fielded phone calls from his staff about this or that client melting down into pockmarked piles of sobbing flesh (and one who was having a herpes outbreak and needed an Acyclovir scrip—stat!). Drugs are bad, and herpes is, too, but not one of his clients is in there for marijuana dependency; they're in for really icky stuff, like junk and crack. Stuff that will kill you or cause you to leave your baby in the crib for three days while you go on a mission, unlike pot. An hour later, the Office of National Drug Control Policy would try to tell us otherwise. Its panel of San Diego experts repeatedly conflated numbers of people court-ordered into rehab with numbers of people addicted to marijuana, for instance, even though if you're caught with pot, you're ordered into rehab regardless of whether or not you're an addict. Rex Hudler, we hardly knew ye.

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