Drugs

Superbowl Propaganda III

This week, a study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse concludes that the advertising program of the Office of National Drug Control Policy has little to no impact on teenagers, just as the ONDCP prepares to unveil its latest ads during the upcoming Superbowl; a disabled Canadian woman is sentenced for growing 10 marijuana plants; and a Washington state medical marijuana patient is denied a legal defense and faces up to a 7-year sentence on January 30th.
January 19- Advertising Age reports: A study commissioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has concluded that the advertising program of the White House anti-drug office has had little impact on its primary target: America's teenagers.

Conducted jointly by the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Westat, a 30-year-old research firm in Rockville, Md., the analysis concluded that "there is little evidence of direct favorable [advertising] campaign effects on youth."

The drug office spends $150 million a year on advertising, and those expenditures have been the subject of ongoing controversy in Congress.

The NIDA report covers the advertising campaign's start in September 1999 through June 2003. Entitled "Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: 2003 Report of Findings," the report issued by NIDA notes that the advertising campaigns have had a "favorable effect" on parents but not on the children, whose illicit drug use is the focus of the ads.

The White House ad campaign, though aimed at all illicit drug use, intensified its focus on marijuana in the fall of 2002. However, the report said that investigators found that "youth who were more exposed to [the anti-drug advertising campaign] messages are no more likely to hold favorable beliefs or intentions about marijuana than are youth less exposed to those messages."

NIDA, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been the agency charged with officially evaluating the White House's anti-drug ad campaigns for years. WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles the drug office advertising account, but most ads come from the Partnership. A Partnership spokesman did not return calls.

While the drug office has enjoyed some strong congressional support, it also has strong critics on Capitol Hill who have questioned both the ads' effectiveness and the use of Ogilvy, which earlier settled for $1.8 million civil charges that it over billed the government for its ad work on the anti-drug account. Two former Ogilvy officials were recently indicted on charges related to those disputed billings.

January 23- The LA Weekly reports: Following what it calls a long-standing policy of refusing Super Bowl airtime to all ads that take a stand on issues of public importance, CBS has refused airtime during next Sunday's game to two advocacy groups, MoveOn org and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA and MoveOn, however, have openly wondered whether CBS's policy has been selectively applied. MoveOn's ad, the winner of its "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest, depicts children working menial jobs behind the caption: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?" PETA's equates meat eating with impotence. Neither ad, contend CBS's critics, is more controversial than the campaign launched during Super Bowl 2002 by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) equating illegal-drug buys with terrorism.

January 24- Kamloops Daily News reports: A disabled woman caught growing 10 marijuana plants in the basement of her Merritt house was handed a nine month conditional sentence and fined $1,500 Friday.

Deborah Collins, 44, pleaded guilty of production of marijuana in provincial court in Kamloops. the plants and some growing equipment were seized during a raid on Dec. 20, 2002. Defense lawyer Fred Kaatz told the court Collins suffers a number of health ailments and hasn't worked for more than ten years. She lives on a disability pension payment that pays her rent and gives her a disposable income of $340 a month.

January 30- Olympia, WA- Washington state medical marijuana patient, Monica Ginn, is due to be sentenced for growing 20-25 marijuana plants, following her arrest after having proactively invited the police to register her growing operation.

During the trial, Judge Thomas McPhee denied Ginn the right to a medical marijuana defense after questioning her doctor on the technicalities of his diagnosis of her condition, and despite a state voter- approved law protecting such patients. Ginn faces up to 7 years in prison.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson: [email protected]
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