From the Stash: “Stoners in the Mist” – More prejudiced propaganda from ONDCP

Please enjoy this post from NORML podcaster ‘Radical’ Russ Belville, from the NORML Daily Audio Stash blog:

Stoners in the Mist - Professor PuckThe latest prejudicial stereotyping of cannabis consumers comes as part of the ONCDP’s “Above the Influence” ad campaign. It is a website and interactive Flash video called “Stoners in the Mist”, and it copies the look and feel of a National Geographic-style safari documentary, complete with a white-mustachioed “explorer” in a pith helmet introducing us to the hunt for his elusive prey:

Stoners in the Mist | Fun |
It is a beautiful day. And while most people are out and about enjoying friends, activities, life in general…the creature that we seek is sedentary, uninspired, and remarkably unmotivated. My associate and I are in search of the lair of a magnificent specimen: the mature stoner.

Oh, goody! I wonder which mature, sedentary, uninspired, unmotivated stoner he’s seeking out? Ricky Williams, that former NFL running back? That guy is so lazy, what with his two-a-day workouts, yoga, and 3% body fat. Willie Nelson? Yup, there’s a mature stoner who never amounted to anything. Montel Williams? Talk about amotivational syndrome, hosting a TV show and running an MS foundation! Too bad Carl Sagan is dead, because there you had one completely uninspired stoner.

In this interactive feature, we will explore and attempt to explain the social interactions and natural responses of this elusive and baffling creature. I am your host, Barnard Puck and this… is Stoners in the Mist.

Stoners in the Mist - the Mature Stoners!
Apparently, “Dr.” Puck and his assistant have no problem being peeping Toms. Well, this should be fun. More screenshots and offensive stereotypes follow after the jump…

Stoners in the Mist - CollarToday we are going to attempt to map out the stoners’ territory, in order to determine their area of movement. In order to do this, we need to attach these radio transmitting collars. So, my associate, Baldric, is going to attempt to attach the collar without disturbing the stoner.
Shocking… the creatures are docile and unresponsive, to the point of helplessness…

So the team “tags” the stoners with radio collars to track their movement. In the next shots, the professor and the assistant watch the tracking computer, which shows the two red dots remaining on the couch for five hours, 12 hours, 43 hours, then 72 hours. Because when you get stoned, you stay on the couch for three days straight without ever getting up to go to the bathroom, go to bed, go to work, take a shower, get groceries, eat a meal, or visit friends.
Stoners in the Mist - The Lair
Stoners in the Mist - BasketballThe next part of the adventure takes us to “Dr.” Puck’s closer look at the Stoner. A redheaded stoner is shown to be suffering the effects of marijuana use, which are listed as:

  • Anxiety and paranoia (stoner’s heartbeat increases and he gets nervous and twitchy… I might get nervous and twitchy if two safari explorers camped out in my basement and tagged my friend with a tracking device!)
  • Impaired alertness and coordination (stoner gets hit in the head by an oncoming basketball… hey, that finally explains why those guys in the NBA never use marijuana!)
  • Shortened attention span and high distractability (the stoner walks off the set… you know, I would, too, if people kept throwing basketballs at my head.)
  • Poor judgment (stoner moves forward and knocks the camera down… he was probably pissed off about having basketballs thrown at his head.)
  • Decreased short term memory (stoner forgets a phone conversation right after hanging up… but maybe he’s just suffering a concussion from having basketballs thrown at his head.)
  • Communication problems

The last one is particularly funny. For each of these points they reference some NIDA fact sheet or some study that has been soundly demonstrated to be quack reefer madness. But for the last one, their reference is simply:

Kids who regularly smoke marijuana can develop symptoms of what psychologists call an “amotivational syndrome,” which can include impaired ability to communicate and relate to others.

…with no link or study to back it up, because it cannot be backed up! The “amotivational syndrome” myth has been so thoroughly debunked that no reputable scientist even tries to bring it up anymore.
Stoners in the Mist - Girl
The next vignette shows us the typical female stoner in high school, being hit up on by a young man. Of course, she’s a complete wreck, with tousled hair and drab clothing.

The stoner’s fascinating courtship rituals highlight the extreme difficulty these animals have fitting into other social groups… In fact, we have learned through our intensive research that both male and female stoners tend to lack the motivation to maintain proper hygiene.

The stoner girl is so sloppy that the young man observes she has a piece of a brownie stuck in her hair. Now, who hasn’t had that problem? You get a little stoned and you fall asleep on a plate of brownies. The next day, you’re so dazed and confused you don’t shower, change clothes, or brush your hair, so you don’t notice or smell the food stuck in your hair.
I know in my history of smoking marijuana – since July 4, 1990 – it has never been incredibly difficult to hook up with a girl who likes to smoke pot. Many people find cannabis to be a great aphrodisiac. So let’s just see how the “don’t smoke pot, you won’t get laid” argument flies with the young people today.
The “Dr.” has us take a break for a neat little quiz.

  1. Did you know 1 in 10 fatal car accident victims tests positive for marijuana? You know what that means? About 1 in 10 people would test positive for marijuana, period! Since a marijuana test doesn’t prove intoxication, you can’t say pot caused fatal car wrecks. Alcohol, on the other hand, a legal drug, killed 43,300 Americans last year in car fatalities and injured 2.5 million.
  2. Did you know that marijuana smoke has more carcinogens than tobacco smoke! Yes, it’s true, but somehow they missed Dr. Donald Tashkin’s 2006 research that shows that marijuana does not raise the risk of lung cancer, nor does it raise the risk of other head and neck cancers.
  3. Did you know marijuana will increase your risk of heart attack? Yeah, just about as much as running up a flight of stairs. Marijuana does increase heart rate, but a 1997 study by Kaiser Permanente found “Marijuana use had little effect on non-AIDS mortality in men and on total mortality in women.”
  4. Did you know that marijuana is addictive? To bolster that point, the “Dr.” notes “Each year, more teens enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.” Yes, and that is because we have a criminal justice system that sentences teens to treatment if they are caught with marijuana. As we’ve noted, more than a third of people in treatment for “marijuana addiction” haven’t even smoked marijuana in the past month! Even the NIDA says marijuana is more or less addictive like caffeine is addictive.
  5. Did you know that withdrawal from marijuana causes irritability and aggression? It was a bit of a trick question, since the answers were both”B” and “C”, but the program only lets you pick one answer. That made me a little irritated, so I slammed my mouse down angrily. Then I just remembered to spark up a joint. Seriously, though, the Institute of Medicine looked at this for two years and found “[U]nder normal cannabis use, the long half-life and slow elimination from the body of THC … prevent[s] substantial abstinence symptoms,” and that a distinctive ‘marijuana withdrawal syndrome,’ when identified, “is mild and short-lived.” You want to see irritability and aggression? Watch a heroin junkie or an alcoholic try to quit cold turkey.

Stoners in the Mist - Reflexes
Our final vignette features some testing of the stoners. The “Dr’s.” assistant dons a gas mask and starts throwing things at the stoner to test his reflexes. The stoner fails to catch any of the objects, but stops short of asking, “Dude, why do you keep throwing things at me?” The assistant seems more irritable and aggressive than the stoners.
Then they are tested in a driving simulation. The stoners drive way too fast for the course and hit every innocent obstacle that pops up in the middle of the road. The “Dr.” concludes:

There you have it. The stoners are incapable of operating a motor vehicle. They are an endangerment to themselves and to the public in general.

Stoners in the Mist - Driving
Except they don’t bother with any of the studies that show marijuana-using drivers to be safer and slower than their alcohol-using counterparts. That’s not to say that anyone should be driving stoned – you shouldn’t – but it is a gross exaggeration to show marijuana-drivers behaving like drunk drivers, because it just ain’t so.
Please, you filthy, unmotivated, clumsy, paranoid, sexually-undesirable marijuana addicts, if you can remember to click on the link and watch the movie, do so. Just remember that this prejudiced, stereotyped, Birth of a Nation-like drivel was produced by your tax dollars! I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that ad campaigns like this have been repeatedly shown to not lower teen use or perceptions about marijuana; in fact, they may even have the opposite effect. But hey, $1.5 billion dollars spent since 1998 sure have given me plenty of stupid videos to critique!