Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting stoned is the new drinking

They say that getting stoned is the new getting drunk. Or, at least, if you watched the TV or listened to the radio lately, that's what it seems like.

The ad on the TV goes something like this: a group of mates are going out on the town. Drinks are consumed. They seem to be going to a bowling alley, or something. It's all very vague. It all starts out well. But we've seen enough of these ads to know that it ain't going to be pretty.

"They say that the one without the seat belt did the damage," the end of a particularly nasty ad describes. They're all about the dangers of young people on the road: a danger to others and to themselves. There's one, for instance, where a chap has a few pints after a GAA match he was playing in. On the way home, he hits a curb, and the car goes flying into a back garden where a kid is playing. The message is clear: never drink and drive. That is, young people, never drink and drive.

Then there's that ad that is shown a lot before films in the cinema. There's a parked car by a pier. The car starts shaking, as if there's certain shenanigans going on in the back seat. At the same time, there's the sound of a car starting up, and then speeding. Then there is a crashing sound, and the car, still parked by the pier, stops shaking. "Is that it?" a woman's voice can be heard saying. The message, as if we haven't got it, flashes up on the screen, "Young men, slow down." In the background the lyrics can be heard, "When it comes to love I need a slow hand." That's one of my personal favourites.

So, the ads, focussed on road safety, are usually concerned with young people being reckless. Or young people drinking and driving (still being the reckless little hoors that we are). And now the latest one is about us getting stoned and driving. 

There is some light to be gleamed from all this condescension (but there is probably something in warning some young lads not to go speeding around in their souped up honda civics). The message from the "Don't get stoned and drive" campaign is this: We know you're going to get stoned, just don't drive. In the way that drink is an acceptable past time, though not to be mixed with driving, so it is with getting stoned.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic here, but these ads seem to be something of a small victory for the Legalise Cannabis campaign.

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