In the article “Don’t Waste Money on Weed, Make Money With It,” (Daily Nexus, Jan. 28) Joel Furman discusses the anti-drug commercials that pollute our airways and waste our desperately needed tax money. Joel proposes that marijuana be legalized as a way to increase money for the state/country and give our economy a boost. Before I ever see this happening, there needs to be a major shift in how drugs are viewed by the public and portrayed by the government. This could take a while. The key is honest, open discussion about marijuana and drug use in general: education rather than scare tactics.

We’ve all seen the anti-drug commercials before; they are played ad nauseam. I, for one, am outraged by the misinformation provided by these ads. Have you seen the one where the toddler is playing by a pool unsupervised? The blurb at the end states something along the lines of “Just tell your parents you were getting stoned instead of watching little Beatrice.” If our country had any sense at all, they would realize the true evil is not the drug itself, but the irresponsible use of it. Chances are, the stoned caretaker – henceforth known as Billy – has never been educated regarding proper drug use. Whose fault is this? Well it’s not the parents’ fault because the government dictates that they spew out statements like “there is no safe drug use.” When you tell a kid not to do something, it will undoubtedly spark their interest in it and compel them to form their own opinion on the matter.

So now what we have is a kid who wants to get stoned, but has no education regarding the effects or proper usage. Here’s where the anti-drug commercial comes into play. Billy’s parents have gone out for the day and asked him to look after his little sister. With no parental supervision, Billy now has a chance to smoke that joint he’s been holding onto for a while. So Billy gets stoned while neglecting his proper duties and his little sister falls into the pool unnoticed: a true tragedy, right? Well yes, if you are referring to the tactics our government employs to deal with the topic of drug use/misuse.

Now imagine a scenario where Billy and his family are able to openly discuss the pros and cons of smoking a joint, as it is no longer considered taboo subject matter by society. I cannot imagine the issue of responsible substance use being ignored during the discussion. This isn’t to say that Billy will listen, but he sure will respect being addressed as an adult in an honest and open forum. This respect may be all he needs to internalize the matter of responsible use. Whatever the case may be, Billy would no longer have to sneak behind his parent’s backs just to get high; they could provide a safe environment for him to indulge.

Labeling the irresponsible use of drugs as bad seems to be the only statement these anti-drug commercials actually make, and on that point I couldn’t agree more – I do live in I.V. after all. This attitude is actually reflected in all the anti-drug ads, thereby voiding the “pot is evil” message they are trying to convey. Have you seen the one where some kids getting high in their car at a drive-through hit a kid on a bike as they pull away in a stoned daze? Replace that joint with a 40 oz. and see what happens. Odds are they wouldn’t even make it to the drive-through. The substance itself is not the issue here; it is the misuse of the substance that really needs to be dealt with.

Essentially, my point is this: All human beings have the natural propensity to want to experience altered states of consciousness. Little kids spin around in circles until they fall down dizzy, people participate in insane stunts for the adrenaline rush and so on and so forth. So why are we denying ourselves this facet of human nature? More to the point, why are we letting ourselves be denied this facet of our human nature? Next time you see anything on the propaganda box, take it with a grain of salt and think through the matter for yourself.

Justin Andrews is a junior film studies major.