Pot Is Hot

I remember when the bright green design first showed up in Washington, D.C., flapping boldly from T-shirt vendor trucks: It was not hard to recognize as the seven leaves of a marijuana plant. According to Newsweek magazine, marijuana has become the latest fashion fad. And businesses are treating it as a bonanza. Marijuana leaves are sprouting like crabgrass on T-shirts and baseball hats. You can buy marijuana-leaf earrings and belt buckles. Boutiques are doing a brisk business in clothes decorated with the logo of the Phillies blunt-a short, fat cigar hollowed out and filled with marijuana. The pot revival is being led by rappers and other musicians. A group called the Black Crowes decorates the stage with a banner bearing a huge marijuana leaf. Other groups, like Cypress Hills, promote the legalization of pot at their concerts. Some record companies even send out promotional gimmicks geared to marijuana use: cigarette papers for joints and water pipes bearing the band's logo. What's going on here? I thought America had declared a war on drugs. Marijuana is still an illegal drug; medical research shows that it impairs memory and motivation. So why can young people walk into their neighborhood shopping malls and find everything from clothes to records celebrating marijuana? It appears that in the war on drugs, a lot of ordinary people are aiding and abetting the enemy. Think about it: To turn marijuana into a fashion statement requires the cooperation of factory owners, retailers, and shop owners. Bands that sing the wonders of pot need the support of record companies, media magnates, station owners, and programmers. In other words, a lot of people who normally have no stake in promoting illegal drugs are turning a blind eye when there's a chance to make a buck. What a devastating look into the heart of American business. People who would never dream of using illegal drugs themselves-or allowing their children to-are nevertheless willing to cash in on a dangerous trend. The picture is not totally bleak. In every community, there are a few radio station managers who refuse to air songs celebrating drug use. In every community there are a few shop owners who refuse to cater to the marijuana fad. In some places, parents have started activist groups to pressure businesses to stop carrying clothes that glorify drugs. In ghetto neighborhoods, parents are buying the T-shirts and burning them on the sidewalk in front of the store. The Washington Post recently announced that since the marijuana fad started, use of the drug has increased among young people in the nation's capital. One boy who was interviewed said he got the idea from listening to musicians extolling the drug. In the boy's words, "It's what's happening. Legalize!" Christians ought to join up with groups who are trying to make sure marijuana is not "what's happening" among our youth. This is a good time to use old-fashioned public shame: Merchants and retailers should be made to feel ashamed of making a buck off something that is illegal and harmful. Remember: America will never win the war on drugs . . . as long as ordinary people give aid and comfort to the enemy.


Chuck Colson



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