Drug Czar Busted — Again!
Like the Energizer bunny, Drug Czar John Walters’ lies just keep on coming. It was only one-month ago when the Czar made a fool of himself on cable television — denying the fact the law enforcement arrest 800,000+ individuals on pot charges each year. (The FBI’s 2008 Uniform Crime Report, released just days after Walters’ absurd denial, showed that police made a record 872,721 marijuana arrests in 2007.)
Walters further embarrassed himself by claiming that the likelihood of finding a marijuana smoker in prison or jail for pot possession is like finding a “unicorn” — a claim that is readily rebutted by the US Department of Justice’s own data, as well as by the startling number of former ‘unicorns’ who wrote to NORML here.
You’d think that these two gaffes would fulfill the Czar’s ‘lie quota’ for one day, but Walters was just getting started. At the same press conference, Walters further alleged (read: lied) that marijuana use has fallen dramatically under his watch when, in fact, according to the government’s own data — recently crunched by George Mason University senior fellow Jon Gettman and posted to The Hill.com by MPP’s Bruce Mirken — Americans’ overall pot use rates have remained stable since 2002.
And then there’s this story, just released by ABC News.
Study: Anti-Drug Ads Haven’t Worked
Report Finds $1 Billion Campaign to Curb Teen Drug Use May Have Encouraged It
via ABC News
Despite investing $1 billion in a massive anti-drug campaign, a controversial new study suggests that the push has failed to help the United States win the war on drugs.
A congressionally mandated study released today concluded that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign launched in the late 1990s to encourage young people to stay away from drugs “is unlikely to have had favorable effects on youths.”
In fact, the study’s authors assert that anti-drug ads may have unwittingly delivered the message that other kids were doing drugs, inadvertently slowing measured progress that was being made to curb marijuana use among teenagers.
“Youths who saw the campaign ads took from them the message that their peers were using marijuana,” the report suggests as a possible reason for its findings. “In turn, those who came to believe that their peers were using marijuana were more likely to initiate use themselves.”
… “Despite extensive funding, governmental agency support, the employment of professional advertising and public relations firms, and consultation with subject-matter experts, the evidence from the evaluation suggests that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign had no favorable effects on youths’ behavior and that it may even have had an unintended and undesirable effect on drug cognitions and use,” the report said.
In other words, teens who specifically said they had a lot of exposure to the campaign messages were no less likely to stay away from marijuana than those who did not.
… The evaluation was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, after Congress called for the study. The study was based on four rounds of interviews conducted between 1999 and 2004, each involving about 5,000 to 8,000 youths between the ages of 9 and 18 years.
Predictably, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy spokesman Tom Riley responded to the data by sticking his head in the sand. “This campaign has been a striking success,” he said — his nose growing significantly longer as he spoke.
Riley also questioned why Annenberg’s findings only assessed the White House’s public service announcements through 2004. ABC News didn’t provide an answer, so I will.
The reason Annenberg abruptly ceased evaluating the (in)effectiveness of the ONDCP’s failed media campaign in 2004 was because the National Institute on Drug Abuse — which by law was instructed to fund an independent, ongoing review of the ads — ceased paying the school’s evaluators to do so. NIDA pulled the plug on the evaluations after preliminary findings by Annenberg’s investigators found the Czar’s ad campaign to be among the least effective in the history of large-scale public communication campaigns. Somebody ought to tell John Walters, who apparently failed to get the memo.
Of course, were the mainstream media to actually do its job, Walters’ bottomless pit of documented lies and delusional fabrications would be headline news, and the reigning Czar would be looking for a new line of work (dogcatcher perhaps). Unfortunately, lying about the war on (some) drugs has become so common and pervasive among police and politicians that the fact that America’s top drug cop is completely full of, ahem, crap isn’t only acceptable, it’s actually compulsory. October 23, 2008