The Cultural Consequences of Legalizing Drugs

7 Dec

Branding potential of recreational drugs

As citizens toke out in Washington, we’re watching the first voter-approved cracks form in the cultural monolith that is our national war on drugs. But as is usual when we make a significant social adjustment, the air is filled with cloudy reasoning, short memories, false promises, and paranoia—or maybe that’s just the pot-smoke. Regardless, it needs to be cleared up.

What will happen when drugs are legalized?

  1. Users gladly restrict their consumption to behind closed doors in the privacy of their own homes. Ha ha, no. Actually that’s not true. They will wave it like a banner.
  2. Consumer-branded drugs becomes a colossal industry. From sporting event sponsorships (“Welcome to tonight’s BCS championship game—the Cousin Leroy’s Down-Home Heroin Bowl”) to product placement in films (“the alien followed me home because I left a trail of HappyDaze ecstasy tablets on the ground”) to celebrity endorsements (“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful—Cabaret-brand meth keeps me looking clean”), the potential to make money here boggles the mind.
  3. Retail marketers go overboard (i.e., “get edgy”) as they tap the financial mother lode of selling addictive substances. “Celebrate the birth of Christ, the joy of the season, and family togetherness by saving BIG at our Christmas cocaine sale!”
  4. College research programs shift their emphasis from conquering disease and other boring topics to providing a “stronger, longer, safer” high. In the end, they get bogged down in endlessly bitter patent battles with program dropouts-turned-millionaires over proprietary chemical designs.
  5. Daytime, primetime, and late-night television is full of commercials promising sure-fire addiction-recovery treatments. “Consult your doctor before trying the Ultra-Clean Lifestyle Patch. Side effects can include rashes, trouble with breathing, irritability, memory loss, suicidal thoughts, death by stroke, loss of employment, uninsurability, and relentless poverty. But since you’re already experiencing those things, what have you got to lose?”
  6. Children’s educational programming will need to evolve. “Only by incorporating characters like Uncle Randy the Pothead and Axel the Neighborhood Acid-Dealer can we truly connect with the real-world environment of childhood, and thereby promote greater respect and compassion toward cultural minorities.”
  7. We’ll finally move ahead with the All-Drug Olympics. I won’t be watching.
  8. Subject to government regulation and facing wide availability of their product, the world’s drug cartels will collapse. OR, they will open up branch offices in every major city, offering multi-level dealership opportunities, financial services, marketing and PR, law enforcement subcontracting, youth outreach programs, clergy, tourism reps, lobbyists, and cultural think-tanks. They are hiring.

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