It's Just a Book

How a 'pro-marijuana' children's story found its way to Congress

But can a six-year-old differentiate how something could be against the law yet morally justifiable? "I don't think there's a magic age where it becomes OK to start talking about these things," Cortes says. "I think it's very similar to sex. A five-year-old is ready to talk about sex in some way. You don't need to break down the protein content of sperm to a five-year-old." (He and Rosenbaum are careful to say that they don't intend for kids to read the book on their own, but with an adult.)

Just a week after Souder's performance, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America announced the results of a new survey on parental attitudes. Most parents valued talking to their kids about drugs, the survey said, yet only one in three teens claimed to have learned a lot about drug risks at home. In fact, the number of parents who never talked to their kids about drugs doubled from 6 percent in 1998 to 12 percent in 2004. It's an ironic dynamic, since parents today are more likely to have used drugs than parents in previous generations.

Not a how-to manual
illustration: Ricardo Cortes
Not a how-to manual

As for Cortes, he may find the biggest market for his book isn't his intended audience. Cortes has already agreed to ship about half of his original run of books to Urban Outfitters, a national retail chain where consumers are more likely to see the book as ironic satire. That's cool, Cortes says. The point the book makes-pointing out the absurdity of marijuana laws-is one that is equally relevant to grown-ups. "Sometimes you have to talk to adults like they are children."

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