Just a reminder about drug scares…

Remember crack babies? How we lost an entire generation because crack destroyed all those new lives?

Yeah. Didn’t happen. We all know that now.

It’s good to be reminded of the scientifically unsupported panic that our government and media likes to push on us regarding drugs.

Recently, there was a very good story about the situation 25 years after the “crack baby epidemic.”

Crack Baby Myth Goes up in Smoke

“We were really preparing for the worst,” Hurt said. “We had reports of psychologists saying this was going to be a biologically inferior underclass, might not even be able to dress themselves.”

But after 25 years of research, she found there were no differences in the health and life outcomes between babies exposed to crack and those who weren’t.

The crack baby was a myth.

What did make a difference for those babies, however, was poverty and violence.

And, as this article points out, the unfounded hysteria may have come from more than just ignorance…

But in fact, the fuel was provided by an entity even more powerful than the media — it came from the federal government. As law professor Michelle Alexander revealed in her book, The New Jim Crow, when President Ronald Reagan declared a War on Drugs in 1982, recreational drug use in the U.S. was in serious decline. Reagan’s declaration of war tapped into a growing public sentiment against illegal drug use. So the declaration was more about politics than about drugs presenting an actual danger to the nation.

The Reagan administration was trying to make his pitch to white people, so it was easy to construct Black people as the enemy in the War on Drugs. This has led to mass incarceration that has imprisoned millions and devastated Black communities across the U.S. The administration made crack into the monster it needed to create the modern prison industrial complex.

Alexander said the administration even used publicists to help create the myth of the uniqueness of crack, a new incredibly addictive superdrug. At the start of the crack scare in the fall of 1985, the news media unleashed a series of startling stories about newborn infants who allegedly suffered severe and permanent health damage as fetuses because their mothers ingested cocaine during pregnancy. But as Hurt and other researchers found, the impact of cocaine exposure on newborn health and development was, at best, greatly exaggerated in media accounts.

The story of so much of the drug war. The federal government willing to lie and cause severe damage to society to push a political agenda regarding drugs, and a complicit media that loves sensationalism.

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15 Responses to Just a reminder about drug scares…

  1. DonDig says:

    They want us to get all worked up about things that don’t directly affect us, rather than things that certainly could directly affect us.

    Perhaps that’s the game of diversion they play in almost all arenas? Like Obama’s comment to the young people, worry about concepts that are more remote (and harder to fix) than those that might affect your life directly.

    That seems so misguided, and misguiding. Obviously a great many have consumed the kool-aid.

  2. joe minella says:

    I think it’s going to take a hundred years to completely and accurately assess the worldwide damage done by the WOD. It’s really changed our world in so many bad ways that are not going to go away anytime soon, even if the legalization fairy taps her magic wand.

  3. Crut says:

    But, but, Nancy Grace says what about the babies?! I mean your babies, not the dead Colombian ones, or the African ones, or the Afghan… wait, what was I saying? Oh yea, you can’t smoke pot cause DEH CHILLUNS!!

  4. primus says:

    Notable that the politicians also bought in whole hog to the entire concept. Gullible? You bet. Just like the voters who put them in Congress.

  5. DonDig says:

    I wonder if legalizing all drugs, (just dropping prohibition altogether), might result in the greatest reduction of government intrusion and greatest reduction of government size in history? (Maybe someone knows.)

    I’ll bet that’s what they fear more than anything, and that is why this is such an uphill battle, when public opinion has clearly moved in our favor: the root of all these problems, the old follow the money thing.

  6. Francis says:

    What did make a difference for those babies, however, was poverty and violence.

    What do you know? Two things the drug war excels at perpetuating.

  7. Servetus says:

    Crack babies. At the heart of it all was gambling baby Bill Bennett, and his sidekick George H. W. Bush:

    Much of the drug war in D.C. seemed to be staged. When President Bush addressed the nation, holding up that little plastic evidence bag, the drugs were a prop. The drug sting — “in a park just across the street from the White House,” had been engineered to match the president’s rousing words.

    Almost immediately, before any studies emerged, Bill Bennett announced that crack was so addictive that trying it just once was all that was necessary for a lifetime of drug bondage. The New York Times chimed in to clarify what was known about crack, and to give a big boost to the developing rehab industry:

    August 24, 1989 — Only a year ago, crack was widely regarded as a relatively new drug, still poorly understood but with special characteristics that produced an addiction almost impossible to cure. Now, in dozens of interviews and scientific reports, treatment experts are shifting their emphasis to the more positive, if more complex, view about addiction to the smokable form of cocaine[…]

    “Crack addiction can be treated,” said Dr. Herbert Kleber, the deputy to William J. Bennett, director of the nation’s drug policy. But Dr. Kleber said the key is that the addict must be given a place in family and social structures where they may never have been before, or, as Dr. Kleber put it, “habilitation more than rehabilitation.”

    Dr. Kleber, a psychiatrist, continues today as an arch prohibitionist whose writings target medical marijuana and recreational consumers, all the while acting as “a paid consultant to leading prescription drug companies, including Purdue Pharma (the maker of OxyContin), Reckitt Benckiser (the producer of a painkiller called Nurofen), and Alkermes (the producer of a powerful new opioid called Zohydro).”

    Naturally, in the 1990’s, the prison industrial complex was ready to pitch in:

    November 8, 1990 — The Administration’s national strategy, unveiled by Mr. Bennett in August 1989, emphasized more prisons and law enforcement. It called for an 85 percent increase in Federal prison cells and tried to use grants to local governments as a lever to have them build more jails. After complaints from Congress that a planned $9.5 billion budget for the drug program was too small, the Administration requested $10.6 billion this year. Last month Congress approved $10.4 billion.

    Will there ever again be as useful and profitable a marketing tool as the crack baby? Let’s hope not.

  8. joe minella says:

    Don Dig, Power never gives it up. We’re going to have to continue this fight even after legalization. They’ll never give up because powermongery is a human trait/fault. WOD is only part of the eternal fight for justice and truth, and all the rest of those pretty words on parchment.

    • Windy says:

      Joe, power mongering is a trait/fault in a small percentage of the human population. Look at all the people you know, now ask yourself how many of them are seeking power over other people rather than just power over their own lives. Most of the people I know, personally, and know of generally, just want to be left alone to live their own lives as they want to live, they do not want to have power over you or anyone outside themselves.

  9. “We want to be able to evaluate the claims that marijuana is therapeutically beneficial” and to explore treatments for addiction, says Nora Volkow, director of NIDA in Rockville, Maryland.” http://tinyurl.com/oq95ehn

    I have been trying to figure out how an agency with the name “National Institute of DRUG ABUSE” will properly task and evaluate claims of benefit that have nothing to do with abuse? No conflict of interest there.

    We also have an ONDCP who by law is tasked with lying should they accidentally run into any evidence leading to the conclusion that marijuana might best be dealt with legally.

    We have a system geared to a Machiavellian level of deceit in keeping drugs illegal. Lying is by law no obstacle. The justification of protecting the public has dwindled to a concern for protecting “the children” while stomping on the constitution and the rest of the adult population in the 63% majority that feels marijuana should not be prohibited at the federal level.

    We have made lying an acceptable practice in government circles as long as the end result of prohibition is maintained.

    Any of the press that reveres sensationalism over the facts are nothing more than puppets of the government. Anything that originates from a government funded agent or agency should be questioned.

    • B. Snow says:

      If I were to guess, it would be along the lines of “transitioning people off of” whatever = and “on to marijuana” instead.

      For people with chronic pain and whatnot that need something to deal with that, when there isn’t really any effective “treatment” surgeries that fail or worse multiple failed surgeries on people with back problems.

      Look up “failed back syndrome”, or “post-laminectomy syndrome” – now if you could skip the expensive surgery and treat the symptoms fairly effectively = with cannabis and some opiates (less together than w/ painkillers alone), then they could have an out…

      Oops, our bad here’s some pills and some plants -sorry we fucked you over all those years, and uhm yeah.

      So… uhm please don’t sue us if you are the family of someone who suffered from so much pain after gears of surgery & nsaids/non-narcotic meds that nothing even morphine could relieve the pain and they committed suicide, okay?

      Uhm, Here’s some weed, its free -just leave now- okay?

      I suspect that”s how it will go more or less.

  10. darkcycle says:

    The insidious part about the crack baby scare is that the damage was projected years in the future. The effective part was there was no way to disprove the myth until those children were grown up or nearly so. Back in the 1980’s I was working with behavior disorder kids,and the prospect of these children clogging an already clogged system was truly terrifying. By the late ’90’s anybody who suggested that there were crack babies was the subject of ridicule.

  11. Duncan20903 says:


    Oh my, isn’t this special? The NFL wanted to make sure that everyone, especially the players, knows that the players start getting tested for cannabis as of April 20th.

    Players warned of NFL’s drug testing period that begins on 4/20

    You know, sometimes I think that 4/20 means more to outsiders than it does to us.

  12. DdC says:

    Got a note about a similar freak out over the new crack called “shatter” Cop journalism almost memo reading. They say they’re not sure if it will surpass meth and heroin with overdoses but it is highly addictive form of marijuana. Keyrist do they ever take a break? We were ask to be polite or they would use that in their local rag. I believe they will use or slander as they please.

    Dana Larsen: Dear Ms Cudworth,

    Utterly disgusting way to act. DdC
    Comments to the story on Marc Emery FB none available at the actual story website.

    There’s a new drug in town.
    Shatter is a potent and highly addictive new form of marijuana.

    New drug on Stratford streets
    Beacon Herald laura.cudworth@sunmedia.ca

    They must have been expecting us…

    Report an error

    It must be so tempting to write a juicy story all of your coworkers can be envious of. Problem is your gossip is killing kids. It is also as accurate as the Pope’s critique of Galileo Galilei. I cannot fathom a logical reason for such treachery concerning such a well known, well documented plant used for thousands of years. You really do a disservice to your profession when you rely on vested interests for facts. The bias clearly shows and it is the very same bigotry used when they first outlawed this beneficial plant. Racism, cultism and even corporatism are not the way we do things around here. I suggest you tell your employers that screaming fire in crowded theaters is against the law for good reason.

    Do you ever take a few seconds to consider the patients and doctors getting remedy, but everyday have to read about some hobgoblin or new law destined to take away their sometimes only hope? Or the prisoners without victims incarcerated into more and more for profit maxcap prisons. The incentive for the state and LEO’s is to not waste taxes on empty beds and Justice be damned. Cannabis laws are on the books and the temporary status placing it as a schedule#1 narcotic has long passed. Evaluations and re-evaluations and more re-evaluations will never get different results.

    This latest tactic only keeps the water turbid for those censored in school books and media from the truth. It stalls research another month and reform laws might not get debated. A weapon against our own citizens and your contribution is duly noted. What will you tell the little girl reducing her seizures from 300 to a couple? Or the parents of the dead little girl who couldn’t obtain any cannabis because the politicians sided with your cop references. Disgusting, in a word. 13% of the Medical Schools mention the endoCannabinoid System, none have an endoCannabinoid Science department set up so future doctors are graduating as ignorantly as the previous generations.

    Police are taught there is NO medicinal value based on manipulated statistics and all occurring during prohibition. That is the kicker. You prevent quality assurance testing product for potency, adulterations or inconsistencies. You are the harm in doing any drug by perpetuating the fears and therefore the Trillion dollar prohibition. Most going into the pockets of prohibitionists and their corporate sponsors not having to deal with a superior competition. With the politicians and their corporate sponsors.

    So bring me the bodies, not Dowdies or stop this deadly gossip. I was ask to be polite and not accurately state my true feelings of what you are, for what you do. So I’ll just say you make me sick. I am sending you the bill for the extra Ganja required to quell the nausea obtained from your ignorance. Prohibition’s slip sliding away…

    * Warning Poison
    * Number of people that die each year = 0
    * Antidote = Coffee

    Drug Worriers preferred methods of treatment…

    Ambien, delusions,dementia,lack of feeling or emotion,thoughts of killing oneself,confusion,shakiness…

    Celexa, lack of emotion,loss of memory,Behavior change similar to drunkenness,convulsions, (seizures)….

    Adderall, Blistering,peeling,loosening of the skin-difficulty breathing,speaking,swallowing-dizziness….

    Xanax, changes in patterns and rhythms of speech,clumsiness or unsteadiness,difficulty with coordination,shakiness and unsteady walk,feeling sad or empty,trouble performing routine tasks,burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, “pins and needles, or tingling feelings,confusion about identity, place, and time

    Prozac, inability to sit still,difficulty with concentration,drowsiness,mood or behavior changes,purple or red spots on the skin,continuing vomiting

    Zoloft, very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out; agitation, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination; or headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops. decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm…

    Paxil, unusual bone pain or tenderness, swelling or bruising; easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), coughing up blood;agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, fainting; slurred speech, severe nervous system reaction, uneven heartbeats, tremors…

    3 million children taking stimulant drugs for ADHD

  13. Pingback: 3/10/2015, Crack baby myth goes up in smoke | All Things Chronic

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