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Marijuana Fear-Mongering and Misinformation

Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 02:10 PM EDT

A friend recently directed me toward the website of The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a Los Angeles-based non-profit whose tagline is “an effective drug education and drug prevention program.” I was shocked and dismayed to see the “drug facts” section (they seem to have a monopoly on “the truth” about drugs), which reads like an amateur 1950s terror campaign.

Marijuana, inexplicably listed under the headline “joints,” apparently will cause you to have a heart attack, and eventually will lead to psychosis.

For MDMA, the complete list of short-term effects is as follows:

    • impaired judgment
    • false sense of affection
    • confusion
    • depression
    • sleep problems
    • severe anxiety
    • paranoia
    • drug craving
    • muscle tension
    • involuntary teeth clenching
    • nausea
    • blurred vision
    • faintness and chills or sweating.

Someone clearly misnamed that drug ecstasy!

Aren’t we past this fear-mongering and misinformation? Even the federal government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse acknowledges that “studies testing the effectiveness of information dissemination or fear-arousal approaches have consistently shown that they do not work.”

To actually reduce our drug abuse and addiction problems (and they are severe [1]), we need better. And we should expect better, even from an organization founded by the Church of Scientology.


[1] According to the NIDA, in 2006, 23 million people, or nearly 10% of the American population over age 12, needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem. Nevertheless, of those 23 million, only 10.8% received treatment, leaving some 21 million without.