This is your brain on drug policy - remake of classic PSA with Rachael Lee Cook

Originally published at:


We have a long, difficult way to go but it’s heartening to see people who supported bad social policy wake up and try to atone for their mistakes instead of doubling down on them.

Now if we could just get Jenny McCarthy to go back on TV and plead with parents to get their damn kids vaccinated.


Very powerful, except for the “and it doesn’t work” at the end. The War on Drugs works very well to incarcerate and subjugate poor, brown and young people… just as it was intended to do by those who put it in place.

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That may be true, but she’s right in that it does not work to combat drug use, which is what the claimed intent is. In fact from my understanding legalizing and then teaching actual real consequences of use is the best way to combat drug addiction. And y’no, trying to help people who do get into a self-destructive situation instead of throwing them in prison.


Oh I totally agree with your points about reducing destructive drug use: but arguing that the War on Drugs doesn’t work as intended is both false, and unlikely to persuade those in power. Ignoring the reasons why the policy exists seems strategically weak.

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Except the point is to say that drug policy doesn’t work the way people have been told, whatever the Machiavellian machinations of its architects. The purpose of the PSA is to de-bullshit the people she (with the best of intentions) helped bullshit, and in that regard she’s on point, even with the concluding message.

I understand what you’re saying, but the context and audience are important to understanding the message. The message that Drug Policy is horrifically corrupt is important, but it isn’t the message of this PSA, and it’s not reasonable to criticize focusing on one as a miscommunication.


I felt like an alternate could have ended trying to communicate something like “and it turns us against each other, when we should be helping each other, so we both lose”. Sort of following up on the “this is how you feel!” bit and the bit that came before that about someone trying to get a job, go to college, take care of a family, but unable to. Not so much “it doesn’t work” as “it’s what’s causing the problems”.


And it’s all true…

Using heroin continues to more often result in terrible consequences.

Looking back, I think the heroin ad had some truth to it, though the first catch-all “drugs” ad was basic ignorance.

Rachel Leigh* Cook

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