Hancock County, Ind. – School and anti-marijuana activist groups in Hancock County are debuting “marijuana goggles” at a community event this weekend, in an effort to “fight teen drug use.”

According to WISH TV, “the goggles allow the teens to see through the eyes of someone who has been smoking, without ever lighting up themselves.

The Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse (NASA) and Hancock County Youth Council are understandably concerned with abuse of alcohol and other drugs, but use of the goggles, which creates fear based on false realities, is questionable.

The goggles take away the ability to see red, which is somehow meant to simulate being stoned. They said navigating a map was nearly impossible and students failed at noticing dangers on a mock driving course with tiny cars.

Of course, you can see the color red perfectly well under the influence of cannabis.

Fatal Vision company makes several dubious claims on their website, where their kits sell from $975 for the “Program Kit” to $2,200 for the “Campaign Kit.”

The company says their product “…simulates the distortion of visual information and altered visual perception, loss of motor coordination, and reaction time that results from recreational marijuana use.

Tim Rutherford of NASA, which procured the goggles for the Youth Council, is a believer.

Anytime you can do an activity — something that’s interactive with them, or something that provides education, that’s great. These actually simulate the loss of some of your cognitive functions,” said Rutherford.

While the abuse of any substance can cause impairment, responsible use of cannabis can actually increase some areas of cognitive function, such as creativity.

A museum and a well-known artist in Australia went so far as to support limited, case-by-case use of cannabis to stimulate creativity in teenagers.

Youth Group students who used the goggles demonstrated that the strategy of fear and misinformation has a powerful influence on the young minds.

I think it kind of scares them. Especially younger kids. High schoolers they kind of look past it, but with the younger kids they see what horrible things can happen. I think it impacts them a lot because they can see how real it is,” said Blair Viehweg, a Mount Vernon senior.

New Palestine senior Keelie Baker said, “It’s very important to realize that these might not be the exact results, but these are very close to exactly what some people in our community our going out and driving in.

It is a laudable effort to keep kids from driving under the influence of any substance, but are “marijuana goggles” that mimic false realities the best way to go about this? Also, promoting them may have the reverse effect of getting more kids interested in cannabis.

The Youth Council plans to take the goggles and the “marijuana simulation experience” to other schools and community events.

The use of such a device that does not actually simulate the effects of marijuana, hearkens to the 1930’s-era propaganda Reefer Madness, which presented a false reality of madness and violence under the influence of cannabis.

Teenagers and adults would be much better off getting real information on cannabis and other substances, so they and their families can rationally decide for themselves what is responsible and what should be avoided.

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Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.