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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

In the drug war, it's peers, not terrorists

Sunday, April 6, 2003

So much has been written concerning the "War on Drugs" that by now, we're probably all tired of the rhetoric. That does not mean this nation is backing down from this on-going war. Just the opposite. We still spend more money than most would believe to win the war on drugs and the fallout from that national epidemic.

But mistakes are made in this battle as well. I have laughed - literally laughed - at the new national campaign that plays on American fears of terrorism resulting from Sept. 11. The new national advertising campaign tries - quite unsuccessfully - to inform kids that buying drugs in some way supports terrorism. I'm no expert but believe me, this is the dumbest idea that has come down the pike in years.

Let's be honest if we can for just a moment. When a 16-year-old kid comes under peer pressure and the experimentation of youth, the last thing they are concerned with is whether their pot purchase will support terrorism. I mean come on folks - that's a leap of logic that defies the imagination. And it truly doesn't matter if the ad campaign is true in a remote sense. It just won't play with teenagers.

Well lo and behold, I'm not the only one who thinks this idea is ridiculous. On Wednesday, the White House anti-drug office said it will end the controversial drugs-and-terror ad campaign and direct the $150 million budget to other more productive campaigns.

The ad campaign was launched during Super Bowl following the Sept. 11 tragedy. Our taxes forked over $3 million to run two ads during the Super Bowl. The ads showed an AK-47 rifle and asked "Where do terrorists get their money? If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you." I thought the message was lame from the very beginning. And more than that, I knew it would be a flop. Obviously, I was far from alone.

Here's the deal friends. Peer pressure will bring more kids to drugs than any single factor or probably all other factors combined. Throw alcohol into the mix because I have always felt it is the most dangerous "drug" on the market by a wide margin. And I'll die believing that as well.

We cannot and will not change peer pressure. Nor will we stop kids from experimenting with all things forbidden. If you say you did not tinker with the forbidden somewhat as a youngster, odds are you're lying or have selective memory.

But we do a disservice to the drug war when we try some far-fetched link between terrorism and drugs. And even if officials find that much of terrorism is financed with drug money, the link will remain lost on the young.

Maybe we should just throw our hands in the air and declare victory in the war on drugs. That would make as much sense as spending $150 million to tell some kid that his $5 for a joint of marijuana will help finance Osama and his gang. Kids aren't going to buy it and adults aren't going to buy it either. Apparently the only ones who think this approach is correct work at some advertising agency in New York. And that, my friends, is not the real world.

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