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You'll know the drugs advice service Frank. Their advertisements ask you to TALK to Frank about your substance misuse. It's been on the telly with the advert about the drugs dog voiced by David Mitchell. Young people are encouraged to visit it to learn more about why they shouldn't shoot herion into their eye-balls. It's the government's go-to propaganda machine for drugs misinformation.

It's ridiculous. It's harmful. It's giving really bad advice to your kids. 

If I ran the government's drugs advice service - which at the time of writing I don't - I'd try my best to be impartial because I'd want for people to develop their own opinions about drugs from an objective standpoint. Also, I wouldn't encourage people to share their "stories" (read: unusually nightmarish experiences with drugs), without accounts of the good times people have had taking drugs for contrast. Which is exactly what Frank does, the dick. What's he up to?

Presumably Frank was dreamt up by a marketing team to exist as the nation's wise older relative. Frank, the man you can ask about drugs if you're too scared to speak your parents. Frank, trusted by parents to impart information but to discourage usage. "Drugs? Oh, give old Frank a call"; "Good old Frank, he knows the facts"; "Frank is so wise and helpful";"We all just bloody love Frank."

But he isn't, Frank is the nation's dodgy uncle who is trying to reform himself as part a community service project because he doesn't want to go back inside. Of course he can tell you all about drugs, he's taken everything under the sun, every acronym you can think of (even the alphanumeric ones that you can only buy from the internet).  

He's bitter, biased and partied out. He's the man that used to steal VHS players in the 90s to get cash for his next hit. He doesn't want you to go down the same path he did. He's going to put you off drugs the only way he can think of, by scaring the shit out of you. "Cannabis, is it? Woah, wouldn't bother with that stuff mate. You'll die." You're not even talking to him, you're just listening to him and he's going off on one, big time. Frank, what a nutter.


A simple glance of the cannabis section on Frank's website and you'll see stories titled, "12 YEAR OLD 'CRACK HEAD'", "I ONLY TRIED CANNABIS ONCE" and "PRESSURED INTO SMOKING CANNABIS." Even BuzzFeed writers can't make clickbait titles that clickable. Stories anonymously submitted by teens about the terrible time they smoked weed once in a really uncomfortable situation and found the experience quite uncomfortable. Tons of them.

Yes I do believe we should teach children that drugs can be harmful, as many things can outside of moderation, but where are all the positive yet respectably bland stories about cannabis usage? The stories about smoking weed all throughout your twenties, having two kids, a steady job, a mortgage and you drive a Volvo. The anecdotes about getting high as a kite at work, but it's okay because you work in a creative industry and actually it's not that big of a deal because you're actually quite productive. Or that crazy time that state in America legalised cannabis, nobody died and they reinvested taxable earnings back into education. Bloody hell, what a mad one that was. 

So, why are they posting this nonsense? Simply, they've run out of other tactics.

Frank has faced such major criticism for their original - and massively  ineffective, by the way - harm reduction stance of "if you're going to do it, at least be safe" by MPs including Iain Duncan Smith, that they've moved back to scaremongering in an act of straw-grasping. IDS has previously slammed Frank: "Drugs education programmes, such as Talk to FRANK, have failed on prevention and intervention, instead progressively focussing on harm reduction and risk minimisation, which can be counter-productive."

But we shouldn't blame Frank. He's between a rock and a hard place. The problem is he can't do anything else even if he wanted to. Although Frank can reform himself slightly to be more objective, he's always going to hit the brick wall that we're all facing; We don't need to put Frank on a metaphorical chaise lounge and play therapist to get to the root of his problems, we already know it: lack of progressive drugs policy reform. 

If we can see the War on Drugs hasn't worked, the punitive model that hasn't curbed usage, the preventative measures that haven't prevented anything, then we mustn't be shocked to see how miserable and ineffective our drug advice has become. 

We're always going to have irresponsible drugs advice for as long as we have irresponsible drugs policy. We have to look towards legislative changes if we want to see Frank in a better light. 

May 26, 2016 by D H

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