Pubdate: Wed, 03 Jul 2002
Source: Terrace Standard (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Terrace Standard
Authors: Danny Terwey, Matthew M. Elrod, Suz Fox, Clifford A. Schaffer, and 
Alan Randell


(Editor's note: The controversy surrounding the DARE anti-drug program in 
area schools has spilled beyond the northwest. Thanks to our on-line 
edition, a flood of comment has arrived.)


Dear Sir:

I enjoyed the letters by Anne-Marie Stiff and Gail Murray, June 12, 2002. 
Apparently, the behaviour of a DARE representative at their meeting was 
quite disturbing.I agree wholeheartedly with their assessments.

It is dishonest for authorities to imply that parents and kids refuse to 
participate in DARE in order to hide illicit drug use. In the cold war, we 
had McCarthy. Now, we have a new non-war, and a new regime of nutty 
right-wingers in control here in the States. Again, you're either with or 
against. It's a dishonestly simplistic premise, and I see it used here by 
the RCMP.

There are plenty of reasonable people that refuse to have anything to do 
with dangerous drugs, yet still urge reform of drug policies. We believe 
the drug war is far more harmful than drug use itself. That goes for DARE, 
too. There has never been an objective study that found any significant 
positive effects on graduates.

Danny Terwey, Pacifica, California

- ----------------------------------------------------


Dear Sir:

While I agree with letter writer Crystal Hamar (June 19, 2002), that most 
parents are not qualified to educate their children about drugs and 
alcohol, several studies have found that the DARE program she advocates 
does more harm than good. The Vancouver Island DARE website,, contains:

"Myth - Marijuana is quite harmless, just like smoking a regular cigarette. 
Fact - Not true. Marijuana is the most underestimated, dangerous street 
drug used today. Today's marijuana is up to 1,000 per cent more potent than 
it was in 1960's and early '70s. In those days, the (THC) 
Tetrahydrocannabinol levels were 1-3 per cent. Now they can be as high as 
40 per cent."

Beyond the fact that the DARE 'myth' implies that 'regular' cigarettes are 
"quite harmless", there is no such thing as 40 per cent THC cannabis. The 
most recent figures from the RCMP put the average at 7 per cent THC. 
Extremely potent forms, such as hashish, have been used for millennia. 
Further, most of the harm from cannabis is caused by the psychoactively 
inert by-products of combustion. Thus, potent cannabis is less harmful than 
weak cannabis.

As a parent of three, I believe that drug education should be integrated 
into the curriculum. It should be taught in biology, sociology, history and 
physical education classes by qualified instructors, not by police officers.

Matthew M. Elrod, Victoria, B.C.

- -----------------------------------------------------


Dear Sir:

After my grandchildren came home from school, demonstrating how to "snort 
cocaine", I realized the school had exposed our overprotected kids to 
dangers that we chosen to shield them from.

Living in the woods and being with our children all the time, except when 
exposing them to public schooling, makes one believe in home-teaching after 
this form of education has young children walking around with straws stuck 
up their noses looking for any powder to snort.

Suz Fox, Kalispell, Montana

- -----------------------------------------------------


Dear Sir:

There isn't a shred of evidence that DARE works to keep kids off drugs. 
Some studies show that, by the senior year in high school, 95 percent of 
students state that DARE has no credibility at all. Other research shows 
that DARE students may be even more likely to use drugs than their peers 
who have not had DARE.

Why might this be true? Part of it is due to DARE's poor credibility. The 
rest is probably due to the second fact, below. Historically speaking, the 
biggest single cause of drug epidemics among children is ill-considered 
anti-drug campaigns. As one major study of the subject said, "the warning 
functions as a lure." Hysterical anti-drug campaigns, such as DARE, 
actually provide free advertising for drug sellers and pique the student's 

Clifford A. Schaffer,

Director, DRCNet Online Library of Drug Policy,

Canyon Country, California

- -----------------------------------------------------


Dear Sir:

Re: "Union slams drug education plan," June 12, 2002. Parents should always 
be in control as far as curriculum changes in our schools go and we should 
amend the School Act to make that principle crystal clear. No union 
agreement should be permitted to undermine that right, either.

In any event, the union is using the wrong argument. Teachers should be 
attempting to persuade parents that DARE presented by police officers does 
not dissuade kids from taking drugs later in life. That's the bottom line 
isn't it? In truth, the program has been found to be ineffectual, but if 
the parents want it, the schools should accommodate them.

Alan Randell,

Victoria, B.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Alex