Ricardo Cortés’s self-published book, entitled ‘it’s just a plant’ follows the story of a young child on quest to find out about marijuana, after catching her parents getting stoned. If you can’t get stoned without being caught in the act by a four year old, the time to hang up the bong is well overdue. Perhaps you thought this was a satire but you would be wrong. This irresponsible book has been published to ‘educate’ children against drug use.
Now whether or not your support the legalisation of cannabis, the question is, what does it have to do with children? Cannabis is a gateway drug, you wouldn’t say to a child whilst handing them a pint ‘it’s just a drink’. Likewise you wouldn’t claim heroin was just washing powder. So why is marijuana any different?
This book makes no attempt to conceal Cortés’s sympathies towards the drug. In an extract Jackie (the child in question) asks her mother why it has been banned. Her Mum replies with “Any government can make a bad law.” Now if we are to believe Cortés is ‘educating’ through the psychedelically illustrated pages of ‘It’s just a Plant’, why then is marijuana being revered?
Or perhaps I’m looking at this too simplistically? Cortés has apparently aimed this book at children in a bid for them to do the opposite to their parents. But is this not just the golden rule assumption that if your parents like it then you won’t? We can apply this idea to such things as Morris dancing, countdown and bingo and any other activities that are inherently old. But to suggest a child would not take drugs because their parents did is a substantial oversight.
Moreover the books sympathetic view of marijuana barely, if at all, highlights the dangers. Again how can this be educational? Does the book explain the ‘plant’s’ role in giving users mental illness or lung cancer? Does it highlight it as a trade, funding gangsters and cruel organisations worldwide? Or highlight its part in sleep deprivation and paranoia? Unsurprisingly the answers to all of the above questions are no, which again brings me back to my point, how is this book educational?
While it could be seen as particularly liberal and yet another example of ‘modern parenting’ it is too far and irresponsible. I can only imagine how a potential series would continue.
‘Jerry likes happy powder’, ‘They’re only (ahem) Daddy’s naughty books’, and ‘Shall we talk about mummy’s new ‘friend’?’ These are just a few of the titles that could follow. Undoubtedly these would be deemed inappropriate and quite possibly a step too far, why then is ‘it’s just a plant’ a reasonable enough subject matter for a children’s book? Particularly, when it is illustrated throughout with images of drug taking. This book is irresponsible, if it truly is trying to educate why then does it only tell just the one (more jovial) side of the story? Surely a balanced outlook is required? Then again, perhaps I am not modern enough to understand?