The idea that the war on drugs must be waged to "protect our kids" is false. Decades of the drug war shows that this approach is expensive, tears families apart, and does not save lives. In 2017 a total of 2.7 million children had at least one parent incarcerated — 70% of those were children of color. Families of incarcerated individuals face significant challenges.
Family values are on the side of reform when it comes to our current drug policies
When designing drug policies that truly protect families first, we must consider not only the impact that drug use can have on young people and families but also the impacts of stigma, incarceration, and the violence of illegal drug markets. Protect Families First works to raise awareness about how protecting youth and families means reforming and rethinking the ideologies and policies that drive the war on drugs.
Regulating marijuana responsibly
Proponents of marijuana prohibition claim that regulating marijuana with a system of licenses, taxes, and age restrictions similar to alcohol and tobacco will lead to more problematic marijuana among young people. The numbers tell a different story. If anything, the war on drugs has made illegal drugs more easily accessible. Since the 1970s, adolescent surveys have consistently shown that nearly 9 out of 10 high school seniors say they can "fairly easily" or "very easily" find marijuana. Contrary to claims made by prohibitionists, researchers have consistently found that US states in which medical marijuana is regulated and legally available for qualifying patients have not seen any increase in youth marijuana use compared to states without medical marijuana laws.
By ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition, we can take control away from the underground drug cartels that cause instability and violence in our neighborhoods and recruit teenagers to sell marijuana in their schools. We can then ensure that marijuana is produced by licensed, well-regulated businesses and sold only to adults. Bringing marijuana aboveground and treating it similarly to alcohol and tobacco will allow us to better control when, where, how, and to whom marijuana is sold.
Educating our children about drug safety
Young people are more vulnerable to problems with drug use than adults. Keeping young people safe from problematic drug use is critical. But the "just say no" and "zero tolerance" policies of the past do more harm than good, because they undermine two key pieces of successful prevention strategies: maintaining trusting relationships and providing accurate health and safety information about drugs. Below are two resources that provide a comprehensive look at where current drug education and discipline strategies go wrong and how we can fix them.