Which Are Good? Which Are Bad?

I teach a class at a local university, and in preparing for this week's session on health communication campaigns, I came across this bizarre public service announcement from Canada from the 1980s, which appears not to be a parody. The refrain of the song goes, "Drugs, drugs, drugs. Which are good, which are bad? Drugs, drugs drugs. Ask your mom or ask your dad!" The somewhat mixed message is that there are some drugs we get from the doctor, which are good and help us feel better when we're sick. Then there are other drugs which are bad, because they might get you in trouble with the law -- as evidenced by the world's friendliest cops, who apparently will punish you if they catch you with any by dancing around with you. If your mom or dad aren't around to tell you the difference, you can identify the bad drugs, because they'll be in black and white.

We learned yesterday that the California initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state has qualified for November's ballot. So the Golden State's voters will have the chance to move that drug from the "bad" column to the "good" column. According to the Los Angeles Times, the pro side hopes to raise $20 million, from such big time donors as George Soros (a longtime advocate of decriminalization) and George Zimmer, the Men's Wearhouse guy (who knew?). But what about the opposition? According to various news reports, associations of law-enforcement officers are organizing it. Which is a little curious, since I can't imagine cops really like spending all their time arresting people for possession. Polls have shown Californians favoring legalization, but by fairly slim margins. So this promises to be a very close vote.

-- Paul Waldman

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