The Coastal Post - March, 1998

Trading Cards Should Not Be Used For Promoting Marijuana

By Attorney General Dan Lungren

Imagine two children on their way home from the junior high school by a local convenience store and purchasing some trading cards. One child turns to the other to offer a possible exchange. "I'll give you a Cal Ripken or Jerry Rice for a Bowl-O-Buds or Super Skunk." The other child responds with "I'll throw in a Michael Jordan for a Down Under Thunder."

These kids would not be talking about trading their favorite sports stars cards for professional wrestling or cartoon trading cards but rather marijuana trading cards. That's right, trading cards.

These marijuana trading cards contain colorful pictures of marijuana either growing or dried. On the back of the cards are descriptions about marijuana use throughout the years with pro-drug legalization rhetoric.

Some people may be entertained by these cards, and joke about whether the cards come with bubble gum or rolling papers. However, I am appalled that a company directed this type of message to young people. Young people, for the most part, purchase and collect trading cards-baseball cards, football cards-not adults. These cards are not intended to foster an intellectual discussion of the legalization of pot. This is an attempt to inculcate in our young people the notion that marijuana is good for you.

Think if the tobacco companies were doing this. Can you imagine the uproar if these were Joe Camel trading cards? Why not equal the outrage for glamorizing an illegal drug?

Many stores display the cards right next to other kinds of trading cards where young people will easily find them. Yes, they are protected by the First Amendment, but the First Amendment only gives them the right to be wrong.

That is why I was able to get 21 other state attorneys general to join me in a letter to the trading card company asking its president to act responsibly and stop the production of marijuana trading cards. We are not calling for censorship, nor do we have the legal basis to cause the production of these cards to stop. We are simply asking the company to do what is morally right and refrain from manipulating children.

Children are the most impressionable group of society. Any message that promotes violence or drugs are desensitizing our youth to some of society's most negative effects. And to those who suggest that we are making too much of such commercial messages, I would ask whether advertisers would be spending millions of dollars for 30-second television commercials to air during the SuperBowl if such ads were ineffective.

If this company wants to open the debate on the legalization of drugs, use proper forums-just don't target our children.

Young people need to receive a strong anti-marijuana message. Tobacco companies and those in Hollywood who glamorize tobacco use have effectively been demonized. What is lacking is an equal demonization and outrage about marijuana use by our teens. In the 1980s, the nation and our culture said "No to drugs" and drug use among America's teens dropped. Since that time, we have departed from our tough on drugs stance and teen drug use has increased. These cards continue the departure from the "Just Say No" theme.

As a person who grew up in the '60s and '70s, I have seen the destruction marijuana and other drugs have left on others of my generation. We cannot forget the past and relive our mistakes. We must all take responsibility in ensuring that our children and our children's children have a brighter future and that means a safe and drug-free environment.

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