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October 2003
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La Anti Droga

Wednesday release from the Drug Czar’s office: White House Drug Czar, Surgeon General, and Partner Organizations to Address Drug Use Among Hispanic Youth

“Marijuana use is a serious problem for all young people, but we are particularly concerned about the high usage rates among Hispanic eighth graders, who are using this harmful drug at a crucial time in their lives,” said Director Walters. “Together with our partners, we are reaching out to the Hispanic community and providing bilingual resources designed to reverse these trends.”
Research shows that among eighth graders, Hispanics tend to have the highest rates of past-year drug use for most illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. One in 10 Hispanic youth ages 12-17 reports using illicit drugs in the past month. Because Hispanics represent the largest, fastest-growing, and youngest ethnic group in the United States — one in three Hispanics is under age 18 — the need for tailored youth drug prevention efforts is critical.

Whoa – better watch out for those drugged up Hispanics! But wait – this is from the Drug Czar. Could it, in fact, be a crock? For the second day in a row, I’m wading through tables at SAMHSA, and low and behold…
Table 1.32B – Marijuana use Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17

White Hispanic
All 9.1% 6.8%
Males 9.7% 8.6%
Females 8.5% 4.9%

Table 1.27B – Any Illicit Drug use Past Month among Persons Aged 12 to 17

White Hispanic
All 12.6% 10.7%
Males 13.1% 12.4%
Females 12.0% 8.8%

Table 1.27B – Any Illicit Drug use Past Year among Persons Aged 12 to 17

White Hispanic
All 24.0% 20.8%
Males 24.2% 21.1%
Females 23.8% 20.4%

So, it turns out that White kids use drugs more than Hispanics (and we already knew the Drug Czar was a crock). Go back to the release:

…Because Hispanics represent the largest, fastest-growing, and youngest ethnic group in the United States…

That’s an …interesting… statement in this context.
Of course, this is not the first time there’s been concern about growing Hispanic population and the use of Marijuana. Witness this letter to Anslinger from editor of the Alamosa, Colo, Daily Courier in 1936:

Is there any assistance your Bureau can give us in handling this drug? Can you suggest campaigns? Can you enlarge your Department to deal with marihuana? Can you do anything to help us?
I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigarette can do to one of our degenerate Spanish speaking residents. That’s why our problem is so great; the greatest percentage of our population is composed of Spanish speaking persons, most of whom are low mentally, because of social and racial conditions.
While marihuana has figured in the greatest number of crimes in the past few years, officials fear it, not for what it had done, but for what it is capable of doing. They want to check it before an outbreak does occur.

In fact…

The anti-marihuana law of 1937 was largely the federal government’s response to political pressure from enforcement agencies and other alarmed groups who feared the use and spread of marihuana by “Mexicans.”

Yep, that’s, in part, how it all started.
Who the hell is Richard Carmona?
Included in the release is this statement:

“Young marijuana users take on serious mental and physical risks, including potential brain and lung damage,” said Surgeon General Carmona.

A picture named carmona.jpgThis one threw me. I must admit that I hadn’t followed the current Surgeon General. (In fact, I don’t remember much of anything about him, particularly related to the War on Drugs — Walters’ office always pretended to be the “experts.”)
So why is Carmona suddenly showing up spouting completely discredited statements? Even Walters has avoided the “brain damage” nonsense. I’m going to try to contact Carmona’s office sometime in the next week or so (busy time for me right now). I’ll let you know if I find anything out.
Oh, and by the way, you’ll be pleased to know that there is now La Anti Droga site, complete with tons of useful information for recruiting Hispanics in the drug war.

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