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March 17, 2017– By Virginia Purcell

Earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to law enforcement officials in which he ranted about the  immorality of smoking marijuana  and signaled a return to the failed drug-abstinence “Just Say No!” programs of the 1980’s.

Sessions said, “I think we have too much of a tolerance for drug use – psychologically, politically, morally. We need to say as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no! Don’t do it!’” Additionally he employed scare tactics by saying, “And our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad, that it will destroy your life.”

The widely recognized “Just Say No!” program was D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). As stated on its website: “D.A.R.E. is a police officer-led series of classroom lessons that teaches children from kindergarten through 12th grade how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence-free lives.”  However, the D.A.R.E. program has widely been seen as a failure with studies conclusively finding that “20-year-olds who’d had DARE classes were no less likely to have smoked marijuana or cigarettes, drunk alcohol, used “illicit” drugs like cocaine or heroin, or caved in to peer pressure than kids who’d never been exposed to DARE.”

It is important to also note that Jeff Sessions believes that using drugs is inherently immoral and that if you try or do drugs of any kind your life will then be destroyed faster than you can say Mary-Jane.

According to a Gallup Poll in 2016 43 percent of Americans have tried smoking marijuana in their lifetime.  And according to Sessions, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

If every American who has possessed illicit drugs was caught, nearly 50 percent of Americans would have drug violations on their records.  This is coming from a man who said in the 1980’s that he thought that the Ku Klux Klan was okay until he found out some members smoked marijuana.

The War on Drugs has been massively devastating to the heart and soul of American society. States are fighting back, by legalizing marijuana and utilizing harm reduction strategies over incarceration. We cannot allow Jeff Sessions to reinvigorate the War on Drugs.

Virginia Purcell is a media intern for the Drug Policy Alliance. View more Drug Policy Forum blog posts.