What a mess that was

In the early 80s, the “Just Say No” advertising campaign was targeted at recreational drug use. This slogan was first introduced and championed by Nancy Reagan, who was the First Lady at the time. She saw an opportunity to bring awareness to children, to combat peer pressure and to acquire an understanding of why they turn to drugs. The actual “Just Say No” slogan was created by advertising executives. One day, during a visit to an Elementary School in Oakland, CA, Nancy Reagan was asked by a young boy what to do if he was provided with drugs. She answered, “Just say no.”  And then, all of a sudden, there was a war on drugs, which included marijuana. Marijuana was lumped in with harmful, addictive substances such as LSD and cocaine. Then as Nancy Reagan traveled throughout the US, she appeared on talk shows and public service announcements. And so she acquired media attention and ending up stirring up something similar to a witch hunt. The phrase “Just Say No” became popular and then the medicinal benefits of marijuana were completely forgotten. In 1985, Nancy Reagan then expanded the mission. She even got the Girl Scouts, Kiwanis Club and the National Federation of Parents for a Drug-Free Youth involved. Her campaign may have done some wonderful things and raised awareness, however is has also drawn some criticism. The approach reduced the solution to drug abuse to a catch phrase. Some studies say that those who participated in the DARE programs were much more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. The inflated fears caused by “Just Say No” resulted in mass incarcerations. They hindered youth from accurate information about dealing with drug abuse and there was a certain stigma placed on  anyone who was addicted to drugs, leading to people hiding their problems. Now, medicinal marijuana is still struggling to overcome the prejudices that were inspired by Nancy Reagan’s campaign.

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