WALL STREET JOURNAL
Colorado ‘Lab Rat’ Campaign Warns Teens of Pot Use
Use of Cages Has Been Criticized by the State’s Legal Marijuana Industry; Mocked by Some Young People
Updated Oct. 5, 2014 11:42 p.m. ET
A skateboarder stops to examine a human-sized cage installed in August at the Denver Skate Park in Denver as part of Colorado’s ‘Don’t Be A Lab Rat’ campaign to discourage youth marijuana use. Reuters
DENVER—In a state where legal marijuana seemingly is everywhere, Colorado public health officials have taken an unusual approach to warning teenagers about the dangers of the drug: likening young pot smokers to laboratory animals.
Concerned about a potential jump in youth marijuana use now that the state has legalized the drug for adults, Colorado is displaying three human-size cages in various communities with signs that bear provocative messages about the drug’s pitfalls, as part of its “Don’t Be A Lab Rat” campaign.
“Does Marijuana really cause schizophrenia in teenagers? Smoke and find out,” one sign says. “Subjects needed. Must be a teenager. Must smoke weed. Must have 8 IQ points to spare,” reads another.
But the public-awareness campaign, which was launched in August and includes television commercials, may not be having the impact the state intended. The cages, which were first set up in Denver, have been criticized by Colorado’s legal pot industry and mocked by some young people, who have dismissed it as a scare tactic.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat from Boulder, even took issue with the cages, telling the Denver Post he thought the campaign was “bizarre.”
“It’s reefer madness all over again. Kids are smarter than this,” said Wanda James, a local marijuana activist, who was part of the state task force that helped implement Colorado’s new regulations for the drug. Ms. James was referencing the 1930s propaganda film that famously exaggerated the dangers of marijuana.
Colorado became the first state in the country to allow the sale of pot for purely recreational use in January, after voters in 2012 passed a ballot measure to legalize it for those 21 and over. Washington, the only other state to legalize recreational marijuana, launched its pot industry in July.
Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the campaign was intended to start a conversation about marijuana use by young people and convey the message that the drug can be harmful. State health officials said they were concerned by studies showing that pot can lead to depression and impair cognitive functioning.
“Whether you hate it or love it, or are somewhere in between, at least you have people talking about it,” said Dr. Wolk of the campaign, which was funded with nearly $2 million in grants from the state attorney general’s office, foundations and additional money from the city and county of Denver.
In addition to the lab-rat campaign, the state legislature has allocated $5.68 million from marijuana sales taxes this fiscal year for the department to engage in a more sweeping prevention and education effort.
Mike Sukle, whose Denver advertising agency designed the lab-rat campaign, said it is a “monumental task” to get young people to avoid marijuana, given the excitement over legalization.
His firm conducted focus groups with young Coloradans, in an effort to figure out what messages would resonate. They settled on the 8-by-12-foot cages, which stand about 9 feet tall and have a giant water bottle fashioned to them.
“If we had launched a campaign and didn’t get any reaction to it, we wouldn’t have been doing our jobs,” he said, noting that the plan is to move the cages around Colorado. One cage is scheduled to be set up in Grand Junction on Monday.
At least one city doesn’t want them. Boulder officials declined an offer from the state to erect a cage, saying that while the city supported marijuana education, community members didn’t think the structures were the appropriate way to communicate that message. The city’s school district also said it wasn’t interested.
“There is some communication in the campaign about possible medical effects, and the reality is that there is a lot of research to be done,” said Bruce Messinger, Boulder Valley School District superintendent. “We like to deal with what we know to be true.”
At a skate park near downtown Denver, where the smell of marijuana hung in the air recently, young pot smokers laughed when discussing one of the cages that had until recently stood on the corner.
“They’re pretty wack,” said Colt Holiman, 27 years old, saying he and other young people who frequented the park took issue with the warnings about detrimental health effects. “But that water bottle on the cage? That would be awesome to have.”
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Took a nosedive with my health yesterday and ended up sleeping for sixteen hours overnight. Feel relatively better now. Didn’t get any writing done yesterday, but woke up long enough, around midnight, to read a short story by Carson McCullers: “A Tree – A Rock – A Cloud,” from The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories (1951).
McCullers was an astounding writer from the American South, who tragically suffered depression, alcoholism and numerous strokes over her lifetime before dying in late 1967 after a brain hemorrhage. She was 50. I would highly recommend her story “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.”
Earlier this week, I was cleaning up the barn and found some books to sell. They were first edition hardbacks that at one time cost around $25.00 each. All that most bookshops in Denver would pay for them was about 50 cents each. The shop owners will in turn sell them for much more. Barnes & Noble is the only non-independent bookstore now, and it’s predicted to fold by the end of this year, just like Borders last year. (As an aside, long-time American giants Sears and Kodak will be taking the dive this year, also.) There will always be print copies of books available, but mostly through online ordering, the few independents who are still around and used bookstores. Fahrenheit 451 (1953), by Ray Bradbury should be read by all who still love to keep a home library of personally-loved books. The film version, directed by the great French director Francois Truffaut in 1966 is very good, as well.
Some can live without books, and photographs as well. A famous example was John Muir (1838-1914), the famous American wilderness traveler and conservationist who still inspires many who live for the outdoors. In a 1954 collection of his writings, edited by Edwin Way Teale, The Wilderness World of John Muir, there is a quote by Muir that makes me wince:
“I have a low opinion of books; they are but piles of stones set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been, or at best signal smokes to call attention. Cadmus and all the other inventors of letters receive a thousand-fold more credit that they deserve. No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul to know these mountains. As well seek to warm the naked and frost-bitten by lectures on caloric and pictures of flame. One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographer’s plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul. All that is required is exposure, and purity of material. ‘The pure in heart shall see God!'”
I could not disagree more, except for his last line of the quote. I live in the Colorado mountains southwest of Denver, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love nature and the outdoors. I live in the montane ecosystem, where aspens and wildflowers thrive, just below the alpine and tundra ecosystems. Books have their place alongside nature. Without books, the vast wealth of history would be gone. It would be like cutting an umbilical cord to our past. We live in the present, always the now–the “wave” of existence where those being born enter the wave and the dying leave the wave behind–but the ocean and it’s substance of souls remain, in a metaphorical sense. Muir himself wrote in journals and publications. Where would we be without his descriptions of natural landscapes that no longer exist due to the commercialization of land that has occurred since his time? Where would all of us bloggers be if we didn’t share our experiences with words?
A great read on this same topic is outdoorsman (and curiously, a practicing psychic) Stewart Edward White’s The Mountains (1904). The book is historical fiction based on his own journeys by horseback from the coast of California (where I was born) eastward into the high Sierras. Try riding horseback today by his path described in the book. How many California interstate highways and Walmart parking lots would he have to cross? The only way to take that path today is to read his book. John Muir has much to offer on the great outdoors, but I think he was a bit too harsh through his “utopian,” and seemingly anti-umbilical-cord, comments that are expressed above.
As well, a third book on the subject is by a conservationist who was greatly influenced by Muir, became executive director of the Sierra Club in 1952 (which was founded by Muir) and founded many conservationist groups such as Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters. He also served for America in World War II. His autobiography, in the form of a collection of writings, is For Earth’s Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower (1990).
Without oceans and mountains, redwoods and aspens AND books that link me to the connections I have with ancestors and inner-archetypes, I would be a very lonely, disconnected and dumbed-down soul, indeed. I would have virtually no ability to access the mistakes of the past in order not to repeat those same mistakes, such as the push towards socialism that many, who must not read history, support so blindly today. There are those in politics today, without mentioning names, who seek to cut off public access to our past, our history and our archetypes in order to deconstruct and rewrite the “proper” way to view our past. This is another great reason to read Fahrenheit 451–the spectre of government censorship. Beware! In the meantime, stay healthy and read, read, read.
In the following article from today’s Wall Street Journal, although I don’t agree with Strassel’s conclusion: “In the unlikely event he [Ron Paul] is able to scare the ultimate nominee into adopting his demands, the subsequent revolt from conservative voters will only hurt the party,” she clearly and honestly lays out Ron Paul’s strategy. No spin.
She obviously wants him to go away, and yet she tells the truth about him instead of attempting to demonize him, as O’ Really? and Beck have been doing. They each have a much bigger audience than Strassel. Together, they have huge influence. Their approach is dishonest. Strassel’s approach is honest journalism. –SB
- POTOMAC WATCH
- JANUARY 20, 2012, 7:07 A.M. ET
- What Ron Paul Wants
He knows he can’t win, but he wants to use his delegates to hold the Republican Party hostage to his views on national security and presidential power.
By KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL
For most politicians, the act of losing—again and again—is a sign that the majority of voters prefer something else. Yet Mr. Paul isn’t going anywhere. He’s suggested he’ll be in this primary until the last votes in June. Which raises the question: What does Mr. Paul want?
The answer is coming clear, and it ought to have the Republican voters who are hosting Mr. Paul in this primary unhappy. The speculation up to now has been that the Texan might launch a third-party run, but it seems he’s keeping that in his back pocket. His real aim is to take the party hostage, threatening to withhold his followers’ votes unless the GOP agrees to adopt positions that are anathema to most conservatives. Call it minority rule.
The Paul team keeps insisting they are in this to win. But if that were the case, Mr. Paul would have spent more than a few days in this state, and he would then be concentrating on Florida. His team is instead throwing its money and efforts at states like Nevada, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota, which are less expensive markets and where caucus systems are more open to Mr. Paul’s grass-roots troops.
The spin is that these smaller states could allow Mr. Paul to steadily assemble the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination—even if he never wins a race. This is ludicrous. With most Republican primary and caucus states now awarding delegates on a proportional basis, and with Mr. Paul polling low in most delegate-rich states, he cannot hit that number.
The bullishness is designed to keep up turnout among Mr. Paul’s supporters and provide polite cover for the team’s real objective: running up delegate numbers. The goal is to collect enough delegates to make a statement at the Republican convention, where Mr. Paul will let it be known that the price of his support will be the adoption of his positions. “The more delegates I have, the more leverage I have,” said Mr. Paul, bluntly, this week. “We’ll go after delegates, and we have staying power.”
Mr. Paul isn’t losing this nomination because of his libertarian economic views, including his calls to slash spending. His criticism of big domestic government is what has earned him admiration from many Republicans. The GOP has long been the party of limited government, and were Mr. Paul to use his influence to push a nominee to focus more on that goal, many voters might appreciate the gesture.
Mr. Paul is losing this nomination because of his isolationist views on foreign policy and presidential power. As the voter boos at debates attest, his positions are decidedly not those of a Republican Party that has long believed in a robust projection of U.S. power.
And yet Paul advisers are now admitting this is the platform Mr. Paul is intent on foisting. The congressman wants to use his delegate power to pressure the party to reverse its support for, say, key sections of the Patriot Act (like roving wiretaps) since they offend Mr. Paul’s sensibilities. He also wants the GOP to end a president’s ability to take action against enemies without explicit congressional approval.
And he’s in no mood to negotiate. “I don’t know how they’re going to handle it,” said Mr. Paul. “Because we’re very precise on what we would like. . . . We want to change things.”
Republicans should not be expected to handle it well. There is a certain hubris to the Paul campaign, the belief that because Mr. Paul makes appeals to the Constitution, his views are pure and right—and anyone who disagrees is a member of the “establishment.”
It seems not to matter to Mr. Paul that the complex issues on which he pronounces have in fact long been the subject of vigorous debate, and that the GOP has come by its positions honestly. It seems also not to matter that exit polls show that much of Mr. Paul’s support comes from outside the Republican party, from left-leaning independents or even Democrats. Mr. Paul will see his particular views adopted by the GOP, or he will rebel.
Perhaps the better question is not what Mr. Paul wants, but what he hopes to accomplish. In the unlikely event he is able to scare the ultimate nominee into adopting his demands, the subsequent revolt from conservative voters will only hurt the party. If, as is more likely, the GOP nominee refuses to renounce the Patriot Act or presidential power, and Mr. Paul defects for an independent run, that too would hurt the party.
Either way, the end result is a re-election boost to Barack Obama, whose views are as far away from Mr. Paul’s as any candidate now on the stage. And it’s hard to imagine how Mr. Paul could want that.
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Yesterday, I met a new grand-niece for the first time. I held the little peanut (5lbs 4ozs), who was born five days ago in Denver, and not much in life holds a candle to those moments with her in my arm.
All of us keep homes in geographic places. Since I’ve opened this blog, I’ve met bloggers (online) in other places, one near the English seaside whose blog site I like visiting. My home is presently in the mountains of Colorado at about 8700 ft. altitude (It’s 42 degrees outside now, the sun is out, but there’s a bitter wind blowing through the pines and aspens which has turned the snow-covered ground into a sort of hard white frosting, reminding me of the early Fleetwood Mac album, Bare Trees). But our minds are geographic places also.
Lately, through a friend, I’ve been practicing “mindfulness,” which is a form of meditation. Mindfulness helps to keep one planted in the now of existence, with bare feet on wet sand instead of allowing oneself to be pulled forward by the tide, into the deep, or backward into the dead tangles of old seaweed. Annie Dillard, in her book For The Time Being (1999), described existence as at the crest of an ocean wave. The dead fall behind life, and newborns rise into it. My grand-niece was once a part of the ocean and is now a part of the wave. Someday, I’ll no longer be a part of the wave, but I’ll still be within the ocean. We’re all a part of that ocean.
Too often, the past and future seem to have roots creeping up and around my legs, pulling me in both directions, tearing me apart instead of leaving me alone to participate in the now. I described to my friend that mindfulness brings a realization of having been born with a nice little cottage of the mind, but in growing up, I learned to spend more-and-more time outside, always here, always there, but never home. Mindfulness brings me back into the cottage, into the now.
This blogsite of mine is an extension of that cottage. I can have all the parties I want here, because I’m always invited. [ When is a party not a party? When you’re not invited ]. I hope to someday make my niece’s new daughter aware of her own little cottage, where she’ll always find a sanctuary, an ever-replenishing spring of personal power away from “the machine” that this world will welcome her to soon enough.
A very good book on the practice of mindfulness, is: [Williams, Mark, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn. The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness. The Guilford Press, 2007.] The best copy comes with a CD that contains assistance with the practice of mindfulness.
There are two other books that are on my mind regarding this post (my little cottage, as you might have guessed, has stacks and stacks of printed paper, with lots of my fingerprints and dusty sneeze-germs on the pages).
The first book is [Lowenthal, David and Martyn J. Bowden, ed. Geographies of the Mind: Essays in Historical Geosophy. Oxford University Press, 1976]:
1. Yi-Fu Tuan. Geopiety: A Theme in Man’s Attachment to Nature and to Place.
2. John L. Allen. Lands of Myth, Waters of Wonder: The Place of the Imagination in the History of Geographical Exploration.
3. William A Koelsch. Terrae Incognitae and Arcana Siwash: Toward a Richer History of Academic Geography.
4. David Lowenthal. The Place of the Past in the American Landscape.
5. Martyn J. Bowden. The Great American Desert in the American Mind: The Historiography of a Geographical Notion.
6. Marvin W. Mikesell. The Rise and Decline of “Sequent Occupance”: A Chapter in the History of American Geography.
7. Wilbur Zelinsky. Unearthly Delights: Cemetery Names and the Map of the Changing American Afterworld.
8. Philip W. Porter and Fred E. Lukermann. The Geography of Utopia.
The second book is: [East, W. Gordon. The Geography Behind History: How physical environment affects historical events, with illustrative examples from early times to the present. W. W. Norton, 1965, 1967.]:
I Geography as an Historical Document
II Old Maps as Historical Documents
III Geographical Position
IV Climate and History
VII Frontiers and Boundaries
VIII Habitat and Economy
IX The Dawn of Civilisation
X The Dawn of Civilisation in the Americas
XI Europe and China
XII International Politics