D.A.R.E. Challenged on Legal Pot Stance

Drug education advocates say same nice things about pot that they say about booze

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010  |  Updated 5:21 PM PDT
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D.A.R.E. Challenged on Legal Pot Stance

SAFERchoice

Advocates of marijuana decriminalization mocked D.A.R.E.'s kind words about alcohol by featuring the anti-drug organization's kid-friendly logo holding a frosty, cold beer.

An editorial in the Sunday, July 11 San Jose Mercury News by Louis R. "Skip" Miller, chairman of Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or "D.A.R.E." America, was provocatively titled "Backers of legal pot just want to get high."

That might come as news to a lot of non-cannabis users who approve of decriminalization on grounds of economy, crime, medicine and social justice.

Miller lists a litany of health issues that have been tied to marijuana, arguing that "one of the most pernicious effects of marijuana is that it lowers inhibitions."

Small problem? The D.A.R.E website says that alcohol also "relaxes you, curbs stress, and chases away inhibitions."

So in one case -- pernicious problem. In the other, perfectly harmless! To be fair, in both cases the organization suggests that there's a point at which alcohol can also become a problem.

But according to a counter-argument from former American College of Emergency Medicine, Doctor Larry A. Bedard, there were 200 times more hospitalizations due to alcohol than marijuana in 2006.

"From a physician's perspective, marijuana is a minor ailment. The supposed cure, criminalization, is like the IV administration of a toxic, expensive antibiotic to treat a cold."

Hence, the California Medical Association has endorsed Prop 19.

That's all lead the Safer Choice campaign, which advocates for allowing adults to freely choose marijuana as they might alcohol, to ask supporters to challenge Miller with his own words through an online petition ahead of the D.A.R.E. International Training Conference.

D.A.R.E. was started in 1983, and provides police liaisons to school districts who teach children about the dangers of common crimes like drug use. However, in 2001 former Surgeon General David Satcher classified D.A.R.E. as a program that "Does Not Work."

Jackson West has never seen anyone passed out in a gutter after smoking too much marijuana.

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