"Just say know"
to teenagers and marijuana

Rosenbaum M
The Lindesmith Center,
San Francisco,
California 94123, USA.
J Psychoactive Drugs 1998 Apr-Jun; 30(2):197-203


Despite increasing expenditures on prevention, government survey after survey indicates that marijuana use--which comprises 90% of illicit drug use--has not been eradicated among teenagers. Today's adolescents have been exposed to the largest dose of prevention in our history. After three decades of such efforts, one must ask why young people continue to use marijuana, and why drug education has failed to bring about a marijuana-free teenage America. Drug education falls short because it is based on a "no-use" premise, scare tactics and top-down teaching. Such programs do not educate, and may even be counterproductive for those who choose to say "maybe" or "sometimes," or "yes." Moreover, drug education, as has been the case since its advent, is based on politics rather than science--an enormous taxpayer drain with few demonstrative results. A new strategy for drug education requires a pragmatic view that accepts the ability of teenagers, if educated honestly and in ways they trust, to make wise decisions leading, if not to abstinence, to moderate, controlled, and safe use.

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