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Federal Government Unveils New Plan To Target Drug Use Among Adolescents

Monday, 24 June 1996

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in cooperation with the National Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), unveiled a new campaign to warn adolescents of the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Entitled "Reality Check," the campaign is being launched primarily in response to recent evidence of rising teen marijuana use.

"Today, too many teenagers think marijuana won't harm their health or ruin their lives," HHS Secretary Donna Shalala told the crowd at the 100th Annual National PTA Convention in Washington, D.C.. "We want to help [parents] send a clear message to their children that drugs are illegal, dangerous and wrong."

At the focus of the campaign are two publications that explain to parents the best way to speak with their children about illicit substances and encourage them to remain drug free. One section of the booklet Keeping Youth Drug Free even advises parents how to answer questions from their children regarding their past use of marijuana. "Many people my age ... tried marijuana, ... but we didn't know as much about it as we do now," the pamphlet recommends parents explain. "I tried it [a] couple times because friends of mine were doing it. And then I stopped because I decided it just wasn't a good thing to do."

"As long as the federal government continues to lump the alleged dangers of marijuana alongside the harm caused by other illicit drugs such as crack and heroin, any campaign hoping to 'educate' children about the risks of using marijuana will be only minimally effective," stated NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre. NORML maintains that cannabis consumption should be limited to adults only.

For a free copy of the "Reality Check" kit, please call SAMSHA Center for Substance Abuse Prevention @ (800) 767-0117.