Pro-Drug Websites Pose a Danger for Students
By Sandra S. Bennett

Last year physicians at Boston’s Children’s Hospital used the Internet to search for information about street drugs. They found that the most popular sites are those that condone and promote drug use. Gravely concerned, the physicians published an extensive letter in the August 2001 New England Journal of Medicine about the misleading and inaccurate information on these websites and the failure of the sites to warn about potentially lethal consequences associated with the use of illicit substances. The researchers encountered one site that suggested, as a “cure” for poisoning from psychedelic mushrooms, the use of carbon tetrachloride, a chemical that can destroy the liver. Another alarming finding was that 24 percent of college students use the Internet to get information about club drugs and other illicit substances, and 27 percent of college students who use the Internet reported “that internet use increased the likelihood that they would use drugs.” One of the more popular pro-drug websites, DanceSafe, was given a poor review by the researchers who lamented that sites with “reliable information” such as federal government sites, are given such low priority by search engines that this information is rarely accessed by students.

To further add to this conundrum, proponents of drug use and legalization have gained access to many high school and college campuses and are heavily recruiting participants to help them undermine and defy national and international drug policy and embrace harm reduction ideology. “Harm Reduction” sounds beneficial but under this banner the comfort and needs of drug users takes precedence over all else, with no regard given to the immense harm that drug use inflicts on the rest of society. Although there is not one ailment of society that isn’t caused or worsened by the use of psychotropic substances, hemp clubs and other pro-drug organizations are allowed to flourish on high school and college campuses.

Students today have access to such a Pandora’s box of information that it can be an exhausting chore to distinguish fact from fiction, particularly when the sites of those who promote drug use are so seductive. Unfortunately, the welfare of students is not a priority on such websites. If it were, the sites would acknowledge that marijuana is now a leading factor in drug-related medical and psychiatric emergencies, that marijuana users are three times more likely to suffer psychiatric problems than those who abstain, and it seriously undermines the body’s immune system. Marijuana also causes apoptosis (premature death of germ cells), a fact that has likely contributed to the epidemic of infertility in baby boomers who smoked pot in the 60’s and 70’s. For students, the fact that marijuana absolutely impacts short-term memory should be of primary concern. Students who come to school stoned are unlikely to retain what is being taught and often see their grades drop dramatically. In this highly competitive world, being stoned or doped is a self-inflicted handicap that can do nothing but cause harm and endanger one’s future.

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Sandra S. Bennett is Director of the Northwest Center for Health and Safety in Portland, Oregon.