D.A.R.E. is No Longer Anti-Marijuana, But Can This Save the Unpopular Program?

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education, or as it is more commonly known, D.A.R.E., is dropping marijuana from its curriculum. The international, federally funded program has been teaching the dangers of cannabis, among other things, to children ages 10 to 18 since its inception in 1983. Despite the lack of press release that might qualify a seemingly radical omission for a government institution such as D.A.R.E., the evident reasons are twofold.

First off, this report originally emerged in November exclusively from a fifth and sixth grade D.A.R.E. officer in Washington state. This was on the eve of the vote for initiative 502, legislators put forth to tax and regulate cannabis for medical use. This timing underscores the reconsideration of the drug in the national discourse. All that pre-2008 footage of Barack Obama talking about “starting a new conversation” on the supposed "gateway drug" has finally come to fruition, paradoxically, by abandoning one of the primary, government-regulated forums on the supposed ‘gateway drug’. This irony is even more rich when considering apparent, apples-to-apples comparisons with alcohol. That substance’s legality is not under debate, nor will it ever be again, yet D.A.R.E. continues to teach freely the negative impacts of this seemingly more prevalent drug. Given, it is a generally accepted fact that weed is a less dangerous than alcohol, but the federal government, considering the laws in place, has traditionally been the last bastion of hegemonic ignorance on this discrepancy.

Moreover, this is a rather sudden removal of D.A.R.E.’s lesson against cannabis, which, as opposed to a hypothetical modification or trimming of that part of the curriculum, is indicative of an admission of wrongdoing. Researchers on the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. have reported their polemics against drugs to be exaggerated, and worse counter-productive to the intended purpose of stopping drug use. Giving up on marijuana’s abuse could be D.A.R.E.’s way of emphasizing the more severe danger of harder drugs, a sort of prevent defense, if you will.

Is this an inkling of second-term Democratic presidency at work? Liberals everywhere would no doubt be pleased to see reform in the war on drugs. However, given what Hillary Clinton once called “America’s insatiable appetite for drugs,” this type of loosening vice grip on the acceptability of drug elements in American society are best kept subtle, quiet, and modest. Or, perhaps D.A.R.E. is simply waiting to see how the legalizing states will be impacted by the newly acceptable commodity.