Some drug-prevention groups are shifting their message to students based on current events, equating smoking marijuana to supporting Mexico’s violent drug cartels, the Wall Street Journal reported April 10.
Groups like the North Coastal Prevention Coalition in San Diego County have tabbed April 20 — annually marked as the “420” pro-marijuana holiday — to focus on the moral dimension of youth marijuana use as well as the health and legal reasons to avoid using the drug.
“This is a prime opportunity for us to educate them about how every bit of marijuana someone smokes here is giving more power and more money to the drug cartels in Mexico,” said Aaron Byzak, president of the coalition, who will give an address to more than 1,000 students at an amusement park on April 20.
Researcher Lloyd Johnston, principal investigator of the annual Monitoring the Future Study, said that the Obama administration and groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America also should link the violence in Mexico to prevention messages. Johnston equated the tactics with successful antismoking campaigns that focus on the harm done to others, such as from secondhand-smoke exposure.
Legalization advocates, on the other hand, said that the Mexican drug violence has helped spark debates about a shift in the war on drugs.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has previously tried to link illicit-drug use with support of terrorism, notably in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. “A lot of young people, especially teenagers, can sometimes be a little impervious to just simply, ’This is bad for your health,’ or ’This is bad for your future,”’ said former drug czar John Walters. “They are idealistic and … they don’t like supporting people who kill others and harm the innocent.”