The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (D.A.R.E.) has been launching anti-marijuana campaigns since its inception in 1983, claiming cannabis to be a gateway drug that leads to the use of more serious, dangerous substances such as heroin. Until recently, the public perception was that D.A.R.E. still held steadfast to its condemnation of marijuana but a Reddit user browsing through articles accidentally stumbled upon D.A.R.E’s website and their list of gateway drugs of which marijuana was surprisingly absent.
Gateway Drugs By Any Other Name…
Instead, marijuana is now listed in a section that talks about tobacco, stating “According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, ‘Tobacco use is associated with alcohol and illicit drug use and is generally the first drug used by young people who enter a sequence of drug use that can include tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and harder drugs.'”
The Changing Public Image of Cannabis
Medical marijuana has already been legalized in 23 states, Washington D.C., and Guam with many other states voting on legalization this year. Recreational use has also been legalized for adults in various states, including Colorado and Washington D.C. In states where it is still illegal, there are a number of city councils that have voted to decriminalize marijuana, so that those found in possession of smaller quantities simply incur a citation as opposed to a misdemeanor and incarceration.
The Economic Assistance of Marijuana
Marijuana has also proven to be an extremely profitable industry for many states, with Colorado alone making 53 million in tax dollars in 2015 alone. This kind of revenue can greatly increase state resources as evidenced by the dents put in costs on law enforcement and the judicial system. Many states are already thriving from the economic assistance offered by cannabis.
The Medicinal Properties of Cannabis
Scientists have proven that marijuana successfully treats a number of conditions including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, PTSD, and a large number of other illnesses. Marijuana treatment has saved the lives of many children suffering from multiple daily seizures; children whose mental development has been stunted from the daily trauma of their conditions. The kind of treatment offered by marijuana has been near miraculous. So at this point in time it would seem reasonable that the issue of marijuana as a dangerous drug be revisited.
D.A.R.E. Hold Their Ground
Ron Brogan, a D.A.R.E. America regional director has said he doesn’t know how the change occurred but he insists the organization is still against marijuana stating “we are unalterably opposed to marijuana, whether for recreational use or medical use.” Brogan indicated that the website change was likely influenced by a new D.A.R.E. curriculum, designed by a team of “prevention scientists”, called “Keeping It Real”. He believes that the third party running D.A.R.E.’s website is responsible for making the change in accordance to that program. A check of the cache shows that the changes in the marijuana category occurred in 2013 and remains this way now.
D.A.R.E. still persists in spreading inaccurate propaganda regarding marijuana in the same way it has for decades. But these small changes point to a more positive future for those who benefit from its medicinal value. As the country continues to accept and integrate legal marijuana into regular life, we are likely to see changes at D.A.R.E. continue.