In his column “The drug divide” (Op-ed, Sept. 8), Tom Keane asks: If the first time people do something risky, such as taking the drug MDMA in a club, they die, what chance to learn do they have? It’s a false premise. Education does not occur in the nightclubs; it has to occur before people go. Keane is describing trial-and-error learning. That dramatically increases risk.
When well-meaning people inflate the risks of drugs, or falsely conflate very different risks, kids know they are not getting the truth from their so-called caretakers. This leads to young people with NO good sources of real experience to draw on. The war on drugs has been a decades-long mistake, for all the reasons Keane stated and important ones he left out.
Since at least 1971, the story of pot in America has looked like the story of alcohol, but Prohibition only lasted 14 years. More than 20 years ago, my mother, who never smoked pot or did drugs, surprised me by saying she was in favor of legalization.
Spinning, censoring, denying, and polarizing the information and experience we do have prevents real learning. That has an even worse success rate than trial and error, for all of us.