Wednesday, December 31, 2003


The last story I have for you this year is a tragic tale to illustrate the inherent danger to our young people in using prohibition as a strategy to deal with drug use. Scott McSephney, a 20-year-old lifeguard from a good family died of what appears to be a fatal dose of tainted ecstasy.

The bulk of the coverage was on a site from Scotland whose links expire within 24 hours so I can't link to you to the back story, but I post this clip from the inbox.

Ecstasy Death Boy Was Actor in Anti-Drugs Film

By Sherna Noah, PA News

A 15-year-old boy who died after apparently taking ecstasy acted in an anti-drugs film screened just a week before he collapsed, it emerged today. The details came to light as Ben Hennessy's mother spoke of the devastating loss of her youngest son, who had a "heart of gold".

Although they got his age wrong in the original story, his mother went on to detail how excited he had been about the project. He had worked mainly as a cameraman but in a bitter twist of irony, he appeared briefly in the video as a drug overdose victim. The film was due to be aired in local schools and there was some question whether it would be appropriate to go forward with the screenings.

Interestingly this is not mentioned again in the ensuing stories and the original seems to have disappeared from the site. One wonders if they decided to go forward with the project and want to downplay that aspect of the story. Makes me wish I had screen captured the piece.

In any event, Scott obviously did not get the intended message in the anti-drug film. His brother says he was not a regular drug user and this could well have been a "one-off" experience. While he could easily have been a responsible closet user, I tend to believe it could have been his first time. He is reported to be well known and well loved in his community. I think they would have known.

I can't help but think that the film influenced him to try the drug. The problem with this anti-drug media campaign is that they try to make the cool kids who do drugs look stupid but to a teenager, they just look cool. You can't fool teenagers and since the presentations are rife with Reefer Madness style misinformation, that they know from experience to be false, the drug users will merely mock the content in private. It certainly won't stop them from using drugs.

The kids in real danger are the kids like Scott. They're the 'good kids', the ones in the middle, who want to be cool but have no experience in obtaining drugs or even in how to use them. The anti-drug videos simply reinforce the difference between the social classes so strictly defined in a teen's world and now they know enough jargon to score. To try it once. To see what it feels like to be cool. I've seen good kids become heroin addicts that way.

A lot of these kids come from good families and are acheivers just like Scott. They're bright and enjoy many priviledges including hefty disposable incomes. They have everything going for them but street smarts. Scott knew what to ask for but he didn't know where to get it.

Which brings us to the greater danger under prohibition. The black market driven by the inflated profits of an unregulated industry. Scott and his five friends no doubt went to some nearby place that's specializes in sales to clueless tourists. There's always a street in some run-down neighborhood that caters to this crowd. Unfortunately it also draws the merciless vipers who would sell even poison to make a profit. Under legalization, this kind of scum could not have murdered this young man.

Although the toxicology has not come back, it seems clear the ecstasy was tainted. Scott and all five of his friends required medical attention. Scott was the only fatality, but one of his companions remained hospitalized as of yesterday after reportedly being revived following a heart failure.

Let the tragic loss of this promising life remind us as we look forward to the new year that there are better ways than are currently being employed to help our children make responsible decisions about drug use. And let's hope that we find a way to get that assistance to them soon, before any more lives are needlessly lost.

Who knows how much more of that poison is still on the street right now? With the bad press locally the guy could have sold the whole lot cheap to some traveller who is at this moment on his way home, to your hometown, where your kids might be tempted to try something just once.


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