Drug education in the past usually boiled down to simple platitudes like, "Just Say No!" But today, many states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, so the idea of telling kids to "Just Say No," when adults are enjoying cannabis legally and safely is out-of-date. So how are drug education programs changing in this new world?
The biggest thing drug education programs are doing now is allowing students to have informed and open conversations about drugs, primarily marijuana. In San Francisco, around 20 schools are using a curriculum called "Being Adept" that allows students and teachers to discuss the risks behind marijuana, as well as the motives for why people would use the drug. It's not about using old-fashioned scare tactics, but rather about making sure children have a full understanding of what marijuana is and how it works. The Being Adept program even teaches students about the different kinds of marijuana products available, including edibles, concentrates and more.
Another major theme for drug education programs is "Delay." Instead of telling kid to not use marijuana, teachers and adults are telling them to simply wait. Since the drug is legal in many places, all they have to do is wait until they're old enough and they'll be able to use it safely and legally. They point out that some studies suggest cannabis use can cause some problems with teenage brain development, and that it's better to wait until they're older. They say the same thing about other legal substances, such as alcohol or nicotine, so they're not singling out cannabis as a problematic substance.
There also seems to be a push away from the "Gateway Drug" theory and other old ideas about anti-marijuana. Kids are more aware about cannabis and frequently mock those old portrayals of it. So the focus is on simply informing rather than scaring.
(h/t MPR News)