Teen Vogue says DARE, which has dominated drug education in elementary and middle schools since the 1980s, no longer considers marijuana a "gateway drug." Canna Chronicle reports that the organization "has apparently removed the discussion of marijuana from its curriculum." In my latest Forbes column, I dig into these wishful rumors, which have been circulating recently among critics of the war on drugs, and discover their sources:
Like other Americans who came of age in the 1980s or '90s, I associate Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a.k.a. DARE, with the mindless "Just Say No" propaganda of that era. I was therefore startled to hear that DARE had endorsed marijuana legalization. But that turned out to be a mistake. Likewise recent reports that DARE no longer considers marijuana a "gateway drug" and has excised the perils of pot from its curriculum.
DARE was started in 1983 by Los Angeles Police Chief Darryl Gates, an old-school prohibitionist who declared that casual drug users "ought to be taken out and shot." The program, which featured cops in uniform lecturing kids about the evils of psychoactive substances, dominated elementary and middle school drug education throughout the country for decades even though it was never scientifically validated. Now that people can walk into a store in Denver or Seattle and walk out with a bag of buds or a marijuana-infused cookie, it is tempting to believe that such a stalwart supporter of the war on weed has finally seen the light. But it's not true—or at least, not in the way various critics of that war have been claiming.