I started to struggle

Back in the 1980s, the “Just Say No” advertising campaign was targeted at recreational drugs. The slogan was first introduced by Nancy Reagan. She was the First Lady at the time, but she saw an opportunity to bring awareness to children, combat peer pressure and earn an understanding of why they use drugs. The actual “Just Say No” slogan was created by advertising executives. Once during a visit to an Elementary School in Oakland, California, she was asked by a young girl what to do if she was offered drugs and she answered, “Just say no.”  All of sudden, there was a big war on drugs, which included marijuana. And then marijuana was lumped in with harmful, addictive substances such as LSD, cocaine and heroin. As Nancy Reagan traveled throughout the US, she appeared on talk shows and made announcements. She got media attention and she stirred up something similar to a witch hunt. The phrase “Just Say No” became very popular in American culture, and the medicinal benefits of marijuana were forgotten about. Later, Nancy Reagan expanded her mission internationally. She got the Girl Scouts, Kiwanis Club and the National Federation of Parents for a Drug-Free Youth involved. The First Lady’s campaign may have done some great things and she raised awareness, however she has also drawn criticism. Her approach reduced the solution to drug abuse to nothing but a catch phrase. Two studies show that those who participated in the DARE programs were even more likely to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol. The now inflated fears caused by “Just Say No” resulted in mass incarcerations. Plus, they also hindered youth from getting accurate information about dealing with drug abuse. There was also a certain stigma associated with anyone who was addicted. And this led to people hiding their problems instead of seeking help. Medicinal marijuana is still struggling to overcome these prejudices today.

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