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Nancy Reagan Introduces 'Just Say No' Campaign

Nancy Reagan Introduces 'Just Say No' Campaign


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In a nationally broadcast message to the American people on September 14, 1986, first lady Nancy Reagan joins President Ronald Reagan to kick off her "Just Say No" campaign, an effort to raise drug abuse awareness.


Nancy Reagan's Role in the Disastrous War on Drugs

Nancy Reagan, the former first lady and widow of President Ronald Reagan died on Sunday in California at age 94. Front pages around the world are remembering her life. The stories all talk about the powerful love between Nancy and Ronald and her impactful role as first lady. When highlighting her advocacy, one of the first things that often pops up is her starring role in President Reagan's embrace and amplification of the war on drugs. Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign became her signature issue and a defining legacy for both her and her husband.

Having spent the last 16 years working at the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that believes the war on drugs is a failure and drug use should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal issue, Nancy and Ronald Reagan bring up a lot of emotions for me. While the press often talk about their strength, love and optimism, I see two people who are most responsible for our country's mass incarceration and destruction of millions of people's lives.

Richard Nixon officially launched the drug war in 1971, but his war was modest compared to Reagan's war. Reagan's presidency marked the start of a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration, largely thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law violations increased from 50,000 in 1980 to more than 400,000 by 1997.

Who can forget Nancy Reagan sitting in classrooms and all over our television sets with her simplistic "Just Say No" campaign? It was during this time that the DARE programs were implemented in schools across the country, despite their lack of effectiveness. Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, who believed that "casual drug users should be taken out and shot," founded the DARE program, which was quickly adopted nationwide.

The Reagans' "war at home" was not only ineffective, it was disastrous. Upon taking office in 1981, Reagan shifted drug control resources from health agencies to the Department of Justice. It was under Reagan's guidance in 1986 that the worst of the federal mandatory minimum drug laws were passed into law. These laws included the crack sentencing guidelines that meant that someone possessing just 5 grams (two sugar packets) worth of crack received an automatic 5 years in prison. These laws filled our prisons for decades with low-level drug users.

The irony is that Ronald Reagan's own daughter developed a cocaine problem, but I don't imagine the Reagans pushed for her to serve 5 years in a cage for her addiction. No, it was African Americans, who despite using drugs at similar rates as whites, were targeted by law enforcement and incarcerated at grossly disproportionate rates. .


Nancy Reagan and the negative impact of the 'Just Say No' anti-drug campaign

A three-word mantra and an overly simplistic education program failed millions of American children – and unless we acknowledge the underlying factors of the drug epidemic, we’re doomed to fail millions more

Nancy Reagan in 1988. ‘Much like abstinence-based sex education, Dare and “Just Say No” spread fear and ignorance instead of information.’ Photograph: Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Nancy Reagan in 1988. ‘Much like abstinence-based sex education, Dare and “Just Say No” spread fear and ignorance instead of information.’ Photograph: Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Last modified on Fri 14 Jul 2017 20.51 BST

When police officers came to my semi-rural elementary school in 1990 to deliver an anti-drug message, they played a video clip of Nancy Reagan’s three-word mantra, “Just Say No” distributed posters of a drug-sniffing K-9 police dog and shared their experiences of scrapping with drug users and dealers – always characterized as a tawdry assortment of losers and bums. They arrived in a black Camaro with Dare (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) scrawled on its side in blazing faux graffiti, one officer explaining how his department had seized it from a drug dealer.

Delivered by that older, composed, wealthy white woman – who died this weekend – “Just Say No” was a powerful tool. It aligned “drugs” (non-specific in terms of type and method of ingestion) with a dangerous and roughly defined “other”, and presented them as the consequence of collective personal failure in affected communities rather than a public health crisis for millions of Americans.

Overall, the officers’ message was simplistic and vague, grouping everything from alcohol to angel dust into one toxic cloud that loomed over our society. The demonization of such substances and those people in their orbit was of a piece with the national public service announcements of the day, which told us that drugs either made you fly or fried your brain like an egg. The end result was that, in the minds of impressionable students like myself and my classmates, drugs were a defect rather than a symptom a moral rather than societal failure.

From the perspective of an adult (and recreational drug user), Reagan’s message looks much worse: alarmist and damaging, a child-friendly arm of the continuing campaign to justify and perpetuate a “war on drugs” with racially and economically disproportional targets.

On the home front in the US, the war on drugs is unable to prevent record numbers of overdoses and declining life expectancies. Farther afield, it cannot halt 164,000 reported homicides in Mexico between 2007 and 2014, the most violent years of conflict between the state and drug cartels.

The “Just Say No” message has become increasingly meaningless in the face of the US opioid epidemic, which largely stems from prescription medications. Every day 75 people die of heroin or painkiller overdoses in America.

Much like abstinence-based sex education, Dare and “Just Say No” spread fear and ignorance instead of information, placing all responsibility on the individual while denying them the tools they need to make key decisions. As Reagan herself said when she addressed the nation 20 years ago: “Drug criminals are ingenious . They work every day to plot a new and better way to steal our children’s lives.” It’s a shame the anti-drug programs of the period failed to show the same ingenuity when it came to teaching children about the very real dangers of substance abuse.

Instead we get “zero tolerance” policies, “drug-free zones”, cops in schools and stop and frisk, while cities spend $400,000 on public toilets designed to discourage drug use and Super Bowl ads market treatments for opioid-related constipation.

One could argue that any educational programming aimed at children would have to be simple. There wasn’t the time or attention span on hand to fully address the complexities of America’s relationship with drugs, and there certainly wasn’t time to discuss systemic racism, economic issues or the coldhearted ineptitude of the Reagan administration.

So instead we got a program that placed the weight of an intractable, billion-dollar underground industry squarely on the shoulders of the individual. It was easy to digest, easy to remember and, if you didn’t listen, the good guys – represented for my generation by a pursed, pleading and perfectly coiffed Nancy Reagan – had nothing else for you.

But while she made a lasting impression, the first lady’s cause was doomed. The data shows that Reagan’s catchphrase just doesn’t work: teens subjected to Dare remain just as likely to use drugs as those who receive no anti-drug messages.

It is tempting to think that any attention paid to the drug epidemic is a blessing, even if it is just a wrong-headed platitude and a seized Camaro. There was even some chatter about increased funding for drug treatment and education from Republican presidential candidates during this year’s campaign. But unless we radically change course and acknowledge the realities of American drug use and its underlying socioeconomic factors, millions of Dare kids like me will continue to grow up and say yes.


New Book Claims Nancy “Just Say No” Reagan Was Secretly Addicted to Pills

There’s a “bombshell” new book out that claims uber-conservative First Lady Nancy Reagan had a secret addiction to prescription pills, this despite that fact that she was the architect the infamous ‘Just Say No’ anti-drug campaign in the 1980s…

Apparently, the book alleges, that during Reagan’s term, the White House physician had to inform President Ronald Reagan that his wife had a ‘problem.’

Even her own brother, Dr. Richard Davis, said he could not rule out the ‘possibility she had grown addicted to medication.’

It even got so bad that when Presidential Physician Dr. John Hutton tried to wean her off the sleeping pill Dolman, Nancy had such a ‘violent reaction’ he had to put her back on it.

GOING COLD TURKEY IS ROUGH, ISN’T IT, JUNKIE.

The claims in the new book, The Triumph of Nancy Reagan, by Washington Post journalist Karen Tumulty, published Tuesday, sheds new light on Nancy’s anti-drugs crusade that became her most high profile mission as First Lady of the United States.

During the 1980s, as her husband began the ‘War on Drugs’ to crack down on narcotics trafficking in America, Nancy’s role in the campaign was designed as a public service announcement to target young people.

Just Say No clubs sprang up in all 50 states with almost 460,000 members, but the campaign was criticized for being preachy, simplistic and demonizing drug users.

According to the book, Nancy’s commitment to the cause was ‘genuine and deeply felt’ and she believed the nation’s health could be shaped through example.

But going back to the 1950s, Nancy herself had been ‘dependent on prescription medications’ to get her through stressful times.

In a 1989 interview with the president’s Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver in 1989, he said that ‘anxiety-ridden Nancy SUBSISTED on ‘uppers and downers.’

‘She took a pill to fall asleep, Deaver said, and then woke up in the middle of the night to take another,’ Tumulty writes.

‘Her use of these drugs was serious enough to become a worry to at least two White House physicians who served under (Reagan).’

One of the doctors, Daniel Ruge became so ‘nervous and concerned about Nancy’s heavy use of medication that he warned the president that his wife had ‘a problem.’

Her own daughter, Patti Davis, backed up the allegations in her 1992 memoir, in which she said her mother was ‘dependent’ on prescription drugs, but stopped short of calling her an addict.

Patti herself admitted that she stole the tranquilizers Miltown, Librium, Valium and Quaaludes from her mother’s bathroom which she traded for amphetamines with friends to fuel her own drug addiction.

She also wrote that she believed the Just Say No campaign was a ‘subconscious cry for help’ from her mother.

Well. Either that, or it never would have dawned on Nancy that her lady-like pill popping could in any way be the same as the SCAAAAARY crack smokers and reefer fiends on the street. PEAK REPUBLICANISM, HUH?

(You shouldn’t actually by the book, btw. She was a nasty old bitch and should be relegated to the dustbin of presidential history. I just gave you the big takeaway to keep you informed…)


Three decades ago, Nancy Reagan launched her famous anti-drug campaign when she told American citizens, “Say yes to your life. And when it comes to alcohol and drugs, just say no.” 1 Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked the former First Lady’s legacy in a speech to Virginia law enforcement when he said, “ I think we have too much tolerance for drug use– psychologically, politically, morally. We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no.’” 2 As our nation is confronted on a daily basis with the tragic effects of the opioid epidemic, it is important that we understand just how dangerous it is to suggest that we return to the ‘just say no’ approach.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the ‘just say no’ curriculum became the dominant drug education program nationwide in the form of DARE. 3 The DARE program– Drug Abuse Resistance Education– was developed in 1983 by the Los Angeles police chief in collaboration with a physician, Dr. Ruth Rich. The pair adapted a drug education curriculum that was in the development process at University of Southern California in order to create a program that would be taught by police officers and would teach students to resist the peer pressure to use alcohol and drugs. With the backdrop of the War on Drugs that had continued from the Nixon presidency into the Reagan era, DARE grew quickly. Communities understandably wanted to prevent their children from using alcohol and drugs. The program was soon being used in 75% of schools nationwide and had a multimillion dollar budget. 3 In fact, I would bet that many of you reading this are DARE graduates. I certainly am.

It did not take long for there to be research showing that the ‘just say no’ approach used in DARE was not working. By the early 1990s there were multiple studies showing that DARE had no effect on its graduates choices regarding alcohol and drug use. 4 The decision to ignore the research about DARE culminated when the National Institute of Justice evaluated the program in 1994, concluded that it was ineffective, and proceeded to not publish this finding. In the 10 years that followed, DARE was subjected to evaluation by the Department of Education, the U.S Surgeon General’s Office, and the Government Accountability Office. 4 The combined effect of these evaluations was the eventual transformation of DARE into an evidence-based curriculum, Keepin’ It REAL, which was released in 2011. 5 But this only happened after billions of dollars were spent on a program that did not work and millions of students received inadequate drug education.

And yet, here we are again. The top law enforcement officer in our nation is suggesting that we go back to the days where elementary and middle school students were told that all they needed to do was ‘just say no.’

The current opioid epidemic is resulting in a staggering number of deaths. As of the end of 2016, an estimated 91 people were dying from an opioid-related overdose daily. 6 Here in Massachusetts, the numbers seem to only be getting worse as more people are unintentionally overdosing on fentanyl. 7 According to state data, fentanyl was involved in 75% of overdoses in 2016. 7

We know that drug use in adolescence is a major risk factor for addiction, and therefore, overdose. For adolescents who use illegal drugs before age 13, over two-thirds suffer from a substance use disorder within 7 years of their first use. 8 This figure drops to under one third when the age of first use is over 17. 8 We also know that teaching adolescents a curriculum based on ‘just say no’ does not work.

A few days ago, I had the chance to visit AHOPE, the Boston needle and syringe exchange program. Upon walking into the needle exchange, I was struck by the pictures of smiling faces and printed obituaries that plaster the walls, memorializing the many people who have recently lost their lives to overdose. Almost all of these faces are young.

Stopping the overdose epidemic in the United States is going to require a massive effort at all different levels. Prevention of substance use disorders is one part of this effort, and educational programs for children and adolescents is a key component of prevention. It is hard to think about how many of the people we have lost to substance use disorder completed DARE or other ‘just say no’ programs. We need to look at the evidence and not allow ourselves to repeat history. We can do better, and Attorney General Sessions should create policies that will help us do better.


Nancy Reagan's Role in the Disastrous War on Drugs

Nancy Reagan, the former first lady and widow of President Ronald Reagan died on Sunday in California at age 94. Front pages around the world are remembering her life. The stories all talk about the powerful love between Nancy and Ronald and her impactful role as first lady. When highlighting her advocacy, one of the first things that often pops up is her starring role in President Reagan's embrace and amplification of the war on drugs. Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign became her signature issue and a defining legacy for both her and her husband.

Having spent the last 16 years working at the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that believes the war on drugs is a failure and drug use should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal issue, Nancy and Ronald Reagan bring up a lot of emotions for me. While the press often talk about their strength, love and optimism, I see two people who are most responsible for our country's mass incarceration and destruction of millions of people's lives.

Richard Nixon officially launched the drug war in 1971, but his war was modest compared to Reagan's war. Reagan's presidency marked the start of a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration, largely thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war. The number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law violations increased from 50,000 in 1980 to more than 400,000 by 1997.

Who can forget Nancy Reagan sitting in classrooms and all over our television sets with her simplistic "Just Say No" campaign? It was during this time that the DARE programs were implemented in schools across the country, despite their lack of effectiveness. Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates, who believed that "casual drug users should be taken out and shot," founded the DARE program, which was quickly adopted nationwide.

The Reagans' "war at home" was not only ineffective, it was disastrous. Upon taking office in 1981, Reagan shifted drug control resources from health agencies to the Department of Justice. It was under Reagan's guidance in 1986 that the worst of the federal mandatory minimum drug laws were passed into law. These laws included the crack sentencing guidelines that meant that someone possessing just 5 grams (two sugar packets) worth of crack received an automatic 5 years in prison. These laws filled our prisons for decades with low-level drug users.

The irony is that Ronald Reagan's own daughter developed a cocaine problem, but I don't imagine the Reagans pushed for her to serve 5 years in a cage for her addiction. No, it was African Americans, who despite using drugs at similar rates as whites, were targeted by law enforcement and incarcerated at grossly disproportionate rates.

Ronald Reagan's harsh drug policies not only led to exploding prisons, they blocked expansion of syringe exchange programs and other harm reduction policies that could have prevented hundreds of thousands of people from contracting HIV and dying from AIDS.

While Ronald and Nancy Reagan were demonizing people who use drugs at home, their foreign policy objectives included funding the Contras in Nicaragua who played a role in flooding Los Angeles and other cities in the United States with crack cocaine.

While the press attention being given to Nancy's passing obviously mentions Nancy's passion around young people and drugs, the coverage often doesn't do enough to contextualize the Reagans' radical escalation of the drug war. We don't hear enough about the exploding prison populations that continue today to bankrupt our state budgets. We don't hear enough about the war on science and public health that led to so many people contracting HIV - even though the evidence was and still is clear that providing access to syringes does not increase drug use and helps save lives. And we don't hear enough about the militarization of our country, from cops in the schools to SWAT teams routinely breaking down doors.

While Nancy and Ronald Reagan are no longer with us physically, the public hysteria that they whipped up and the draconian, zero-tolerance drug policies that were implemented in the 1980s, are still alive and kicking today.


In Conclusion

Despite the good intentions, the Just Say No anti-drug marketing campaign started by Nancy Reagan may not have been as effective as it could have been. An abstinence-only approach coupled with the harsh drug penalties of the time focused more on punishment rather than treatment. Landmark Recovery understands that drug and alcohol addiction are serious illnesses. Landmark offers patients the tools and care they need to overcome their substance abuse problems. Our medical care staff or waiting to help usher you in to a new healthy, lifestyle. If you think you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse please reach out to our admissions staff to learn about your options regarding drug and alcohol rehab.


1971: Nixon Declares a War on Drugs

In his declaration, Nixon stated that drug abuse was “public enemy number one”. How does one declare a war on an intangible object and find success? One doesn’t.

The primary reason Nixon launched the war on drugs was to more easily jail the antiwar left, and black people. Civil and social rights revolutionists like the Yippies, UAW/MF, and The Black Panther Party were rising up, Nixon spun up a draconian solution to control the masses.

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How Blacks became the unwitting villains and the victims of the War on Drugs

Cannabis has quickly become big business in America, worth more than an estimated $10 billion and growing. But as white farmers and corporations continue to get rich off the drug, when it comes to marijuana, many people of color, Black people specifically, still find themselves harboring outdated beliefs.

It is a shame not only from an economic empowerment standpoint, but also because those little green buds some see as a hobby for low-class “thugs” with no ambition, also represent one of the biggest examples of how corrupt politicians have very directly (and effectively) destroyed our communities — while convincing us to blame each other.

For a multitude of reasons, it’s time that we all re-evaluate and redefine our relationship with marijuana. But before I get into all that, let’s take a quick trip back to the 1980’s, which coincidentally, is also the last time we let a television personality run our country.

Nancy Raegan lied to all of us

Back in the 80’s, Nancy Reagan launched the “Just Say No” campaign which would eventually became her signature issue and a defining legacy for both her husband, President Ronald Reagan and herself.

In those days, many impressionable children grew up with the image of a perfectly coifed First Lady staring solemnly into the camera as she repeated the catchy three-word phrase through our television sets and into our psyches.

During that same time the D.A.R.E programs – which were founded by then-Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates, who believed that “casual drug users should be taken out and shot” — were implemented in schools across the nation, in spite of their glaring failure rates.

Just like that a whole generation was spoon-fed overgeneralized, misleading, anti-marijuana, propaganda that would set the stage for decades of (unchecked) racially biased drug arrests focused on the Black community.

But before we get into how the Reagans convinced y’all to judge your otherwise law abiding cousins for peacefully smoking a joint (as opposed to the more socially acceptable practice of getting drunk at happy hour to the detriment of their livers) let’s rewind even further back and talk about to how and why this “war” initially started.

The ‘War on Drugs’ was always a smoke screen

In 1971 President Richard Nixon officially started what is now coined “the war on drugs”, and two years later created the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

While on the surface this may seem like a very well-meaning and presidential course of action, one of the main architects of Nixon’s drug policy, Attorney General John Mitchell, would later come clean and admit that war on drugs was always meant to be an attack on liberal “hippies” and Black people.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman told Harper’s writer Dan Baum.

“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or Black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and Blacks with heroin – and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman confessed.

“We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

So there you have it – direct from the horses mouth.

The “war on drugs” was quite literally meant to take down Black people from day one. While white Americans were being told to fear scary drugged out Black people, the real bad guy in this was free to go unchecked.

And by “bad guys” I mean the Nixon-era C.I.A.

As grandiose as the above statement sounds, it is not a conspiracy theory. Because the current C.I.A. (thanks to the investigative work of an incredibly brave — albeit flawed journalist) was eventually forced to admit that for more than a decade it protected its Nicaraguan allies from being prosecuted for smuggling cocaine into the U.S.

Turning a blind eye

If you’ve ever gone to California and driven past the drug addicted homeless community on Skid Row, please know that in that moment you are staring at the legacy of your country’s complete failure to protect Black people from their crooked allies.

“Freeway” Ricky Ross (the former drug kingpin – not the rapper) was able to take his South Central L.A.-based crack businesses national thanks to his access to a cheap supply of coke from Nicaraguan suppliers who were being protected by the U.S. government.

If you do some research on a U.S. backed and funded Nicaraguan right-wing rebel fighters called the Contras, you’ll quickly see how our country decided to get in bed with a group that was secretly getting money funneled from Iranian arms deals in what later became known as the Iran-Contra Affair. But which was later revealed to also be linked to drug trafficking in urban America.

In plain English this means the American government knowingly turned a blind eye while their allies pumped drugs into Black neighborhoods. They literally let hard drugs destroy millions of Black lives as part of their deal with the Contras, and are therefore directly complicit in creating the crack-cocaine epidemic that has ravaged urban communities for generations.

The video below is cued up to the exact segment of an interview, where Rick Ross himself admits to his role in all of this.

The evidence for all this is pretty plain these days. But back in the 80’s when Reagan was in office, and inherited the blueprint for this sinister plot from Nixon — they still had an image to uphold.

So exactly how do you convince the public not to connect the dots and start asking questions about how so much crack suddenly appeared on our streets out of nowhere?

Simply distract them with a smear campaign against marijuana the easily accessible, wonder drug with a host of medicinal benefits that was already popular among stressed out Blacks and liberals who couldn’t afford insurance. Turn that non-deadly and inexpensive alternative to all the pricey pharmaceuticals on the market into the bad guy instead. And then get the demure, harmless looking First Lady to become the poster child for this smoke screen.

It was an evil plan straight out of a blockbuster film, except this time, the villains ended up getting away with it. And by the 90’s kids and parents all over the nation were saying, “Just Say No!” without a clue that it was all just one big distraction.

I often use the term “systemic racism” as a generalization, but this is a very specific example of how the system has intentionally stacked the deck against Black people. While then posing disingenuous questions like, “Why are so many inner city negroes strung out on drugs?” as if they had nothing to do with it.

But anyways…. history lesson over. Let’s go back to Nancy Reagan and what happened after she convinced us to see weed as the enemy.

Ripping Black families apart when law at a time

Once Nancy Reagan did her part rebrand marijuana as “the gateway drug”, that shift in public perception gave President Reagan the momentum he needed to pass oppressive drug laws that hyper focused on specific communities.

I feel like by this point in the story you can take a wild guess which communities got the brunt of this punishment.

In 1986, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, establishing mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes and grouped cannabis with drugs like heroin.

Today we would intelligently ask, “On what planet do marijuana and heroine ever belong in the same sentence?” Because objectively speaking, that’s literally like grouping Tylenol with Meth. But back then, most Americans were intentionally kept in the dark on the difference between hard and soft drugs.

That same year, Reagan’s Executive Order 12564 also authorized drug testing for all Federal employees – even though the president’s own counsel later acknowledged that federal courts had ruled mass testing programs are unconstitutional. But the constitutional rights of federal employees were de-prioritized because the corrupt “war on drugs” was considered more important than the civil liberties of individual citizens.

And as for all those people living in urban communities plagued by unchecked, government-affiliated drug dealers? You’d think as some sort of restitution they’d be treated as victims and be provided with assistance to get clean right?

Well, unfortunately that sort of reasonable response is only reserved for white communities where things like “the opioid epidemic ” make the cover of Time Magazine as we’re asked to show compassion for white citizens who fall prey to addiction.

In the 80’s though, Black folks were further victimized by laws literally drafted up to scoop them off the streets and hide any evidence of the CIA’s illegal activities. These laws included things like crack sentencing guidelines that stipulated that anyone possessing just 5 grams worth of crack (the size of two sugar packets) could receive an automatic 5 years in prison.

Just like that, for decades our prisons became filled with low-level drug users further cementing the narrative that Black people have some sort of moral shortcoming that makes them more prone to being incarcerated. But we don’t have a moral shortcoming folks — this was all done by design. We were targeted.

And the biggest irony of all this is that although Black families continued to be torn apart over dime bags, Nancy Reagan’s own daughter, Patti Davis admitted to once being a hard drug user as a teen, yet somehow managed to maintain her freedom.

So yeah, on the April marijuana holiday known as 𔄜/20” (or any other day of the year to be honest), if you see someone Black lighting up a joint and minding their business – check yourself before rushing to judgment.

After reading this article, and hopefully doing some of your own research, you might even find yourself needing a puff too.

Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric


'Just Say No'

The national address highlighting the first lady's campaign against drug use by children and new anti-drug initiatives was delivered jointly by President and Mrs. Reagan from the West Wing of the White House. In it, President Reagan cited rising drug use rates and Mrs. Reagan urged young people to "Just say no," when offered drugs. Whether owing to the "Just Say No," campaign or not, drug use among high school students was declining as Reagan left office.

The President. Good evening. Usually, I talk with you from my office in the West Wing of the White House. But tonight there's something special to talk about, and I've asked someone very special to join me. Nancy and I are here in the West Hall of the White House, and around us are the rooms in which we live. It's the home you've provided for us, of which we merely have temporary custody.

Nancy's joining me because the message this evening is not my message but ours. And we speak to you not simply as fellow citizens but as fellow parents and grandparents and as concerned neighbors. It's back-to-school time for America's children. And while drug and alcohol abuse cuts across all generations, it's especially damaging to the young people on whom our future depends. So tonight, from our family to yours, from our home to yours, thank you for joining us.

America has accomplished so much in these last few years, whether it's been re-building our economy or serving the cause of freedom in the world. What we've been able to achieve has been done with your help--with us working together as a nation united. Now, we need your support again Drugs are menacing our society. They're threatening our values and undercutting our institutions. They're killing our children.

From the beginning of our administration, we've taken strong steps to do something about this horror. Tonight I can report to you that we've made much progress. Thirty-seven Federal agencies are working together in a vigorous national effort, and by next year our spending for drug law enforcement will have more than tripled from its 1981 levels. We have increased seizures of illegal drugs. Shortages of marijuana are now being reported. Last year alone over 10,000 drug criminals were convicted and nearly $250 million of their assets were seized by the DEA, the Drug Enforcement Administration.

And in the most important area, individual use, we see progress. In 4 y ears the number of high school seniors using marijuana on a daily basis has dropped from 1 in 14 to 1 in 20. The U.S. military has cut the use of illegal drugs among its personnel by 67 percent since 1980. These are a measure of our commitment and emerging signs that we can defeat this enemy. But we still have much to do.

Despite our best efforts, illegal cocaine is coming into our country at alarming levels and 4 to 5 million people regularly use it. Five hundred thousand Americans are hooked on heroin. One in twelve persons smokes marijuana regularly. Regular drug use is even higher among the age group 18 to 25 - most likely just entering the work force. Today there's a new epidemic: smokable cocaine, otherwise known as crack. It is an explosively destructive and often lethal substance which is crushing its users. It is an uncontrolled fire.

And drug abuse is not a so-called victimless crime. Everyone's safety is at stake when drugs and excessive alcohol are used by people on the highways or by those transporting our citizens or operating industrial equipment. Drug abuse costs you and your fellow Americans at least $60 billion a year.

From the early days of our administration, Nancy has been intensely involved in the effort to fight drug abuse. She has since traveled over 100,000 miles to 55 cities in 28 States and 6 foreign countries to fight school-age drug and alcohol abuse. She's given dozens of speeches and scores of interviews and has participated in 24 special radio and TV tapings to create greater awareness of this crisis. Her personal observations and efforts have given her such dramatic insights that I wanted her to share them with you this evening.

Mrs. Reagan. Thank you. As a mother, I've always thought of September as a special month, a time when we bundled our children off to school, to the warmth of an environment in which they could fulfill the promise and hope in those restless minds. But so much has happened over these last years, so much to shake the foundations of all that we know and all that we believe in. Today there's a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in this country, and no one is safe from it - not you, not me, and certainly not our children, because this epidemic has their names written on it. Many of you may be thinking: "Well, drugs don't concern me." But it does concern you. It concerns us all because of the way it tears at our lives and because it's aimed at destroying the brightness and life of the sons and daughters of the United States.

For 5 years I've been traveling across the country - learning and listening. And one of the most hopeful signs I've seen is the building of an essential, new awareness of how terrible and threatening drug abuse is to our society. This was one of the main purposes when I started, so of course it makes me happy that that's been accomplished. But each time I meet with someone new or receive another letter from a troubled person on drugs, I yearn to find a way to help share the message that cries out from them. As a parent, I'm especially concerned about what drugs are doing to young mothers and their newborn children. Listen to this news account from a hospital in Florida of a child born to a mother with a cocaine habit: "Nearby, a baby named Paul lies motionless in an incubator, feeding tubes riddling his tiny body. He needs a respirator to breathe and a daily spinal tap to relieve fluid buildup on his brain. Only 1 month old, he's already suffered 2 strokes."

Now you can see why drug abuse concerns every one of us-all the American family. Drugs steal away so much. They take and take, until finally every time a drug goes into a child, something else is forced out - like love and hope and trust and confidence. Drugs take away the dream from every child's heart and replace it with a nightmare, and it's time we in America stand up and replace those dreams. Each of us has to put our principles and consciences on the line, whether in social settings or in the workplace, to set forth solid standards and stick to them. There's no moral middle ground. Indifference is not an option. We want you to help us create an outspoken intolerance for drug use. For the sake of our children, I implore each of you to be unyielding and inflexible in your opposition to drugs.

Our young people are helping us lead the way. Not long ago, in Oakland, California, I was asked by a group of children what to do if they were offered drugs, and I answered, "Just say no." Soon after that, those children in Oakland formed a Just Say No club, and now there are over 10,000 such clubs all over the country. Well, their participation and their courage in saying no needs our encouragement. We can help by using every opportunity to force the issue of not using drugs to the point of making others uncomfortable, even if it means making ourselves unpopular.

Our job is never easy because drug criminals are ingenious. They work everyday to plot a new and better way to steal our children's lives, just as they've done by developing this new drug, crack. For every door that we close, they open a new door to death. They prosper on our unwillingness to act. So, we must be smarter and stronger and tougher than they are. It's up to us to change attitudes and just simply dry up their markets.

And finally, to young people watching or listening, I have a very personal message for you: There's a big, wonderful world out there for you. It belongs to you. It's exciting and stimulating and rewarding. Don't cheat yourselves out of this promise. Our country needs you, but it needs you to be clear-eyed and clear-minded. I recently read one teenager's story. She's now determined to stay clean but was once strung out on several drugs. What she remembered most clearly about her recovery was that during the time she was on drugs everything appeared to her in shades of black and gray and after her treatment she was able to see colors again.

So, to my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can't see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life. And when it comes to drugs and alcohol just say no.

The President. I think you can see why Nancy has been such a positive influence on all that we're trying to do. The job ahead of us is very clear. Nancy's personal crusade, like that of so many other wonderful individuals, should become our national crusade. It must include a combination of government and private efforts which complement one another. Last month I announced six initiatives which we believe will do just that.

First, we seek a drug-free workplace at all levels of government and in the private sector. Second, we'll work toward drug-free schools. Third, we want to ensure that the public is protected and that treatment is available to substance abusers and the chemically dependent. Our fourth goal is to expand international cooperation while treating drug trafficking as a threat to our national security. In October I will be meeting with key U.S. Ambassadors to discuss what can be done to support our friends abroad. Fifth, we must move to strengthen law enforcement activities such as those initiated by Vice President Bush and Attorney General Meese. And finally, we seek to expand public awareness and prevention.

In order to further implement these six goals, I will announce tomorrow a series of new proposals for a drug-free America. Taken as a whole, these proposals will toughen our laws against drug criminals, encourage more research and treatment and ensure that illegal drugs will not be tolerated in our schools or in our workplaces. Together with our ongoing efforts, these proposals will bring the Federal commitment to fighting drugs to $3 billion. As much financing as we commit, however, we would be fooling ourselves if we thought that massive new amounts of money alone will provide the solution. Let us not forget that in America people solve problems and no national crusade has ever succeeded without human investment. Winning the crusade against drugs will not be achieved by just throwing money at the problem.

Your government will continue to act aggressively, but nothing would be more effective than for Americans simply to quit using illegal drugs. We seek to create a massive change in national attitudes which ultimately will separate the drugs from the customer, to take the user away from the supply. I believe, quite simply, that we can help them quit. and that's where you come in.

My generation will remember how America swung into action when we were attacked in World War II. The war was not just fought by the fellows flying the planes or driving the tanks. It was fought at home by a mobilized nation - men and women alike - building planes and ships, clothing sailors and soldiers, feeding marines and airmen and it was fought by children planting victory gardens and collecting cans. Well, now we're in another war for our freedom, and it's time for all of us to pull together again. So for example, if your friend or neighbor or a family member has a drug or alcohol problem, don't turn the other way. Go to his help or to hers. Get others involved with you - clubs, service groups, and community organizations-and provide support and strength. And, of course, many of you've been cured through treatment and self-help. Well, you're the combat veterans, and you have a critical role to play. you can help others by telling your story and providing a willing hand to those in need. Being friends to others is the best way of being friends to ourselves. It's time, as Nancy said, for America to Just Say No to drugs.

Those of you in union halls and workplaces everywhere: Please make this challenge a part of your job every day. Help us preserve the health and dignity of all workers. To businesses large and small: we need the creativity of your enterprise applied directly to this national problem. Help us. And those of you who are educators: Your wisdom and leadership are indispensable to this cause. From the pulpits of this spirit-filled land: we would welcome your reassuring message of redemption and forgiveness and of helping one another. On the athletic fields: You men and women are among the most beloved citizens of our country. A child's eyes fill with your heroic achievements. Few of us can give youngsters something as special and strong to look up to as you. Please don't let them down.

And this camera in front of us: It's a reminder that in Nancy's and my former profession and in the newsrooms and production rooms of our media centers - you have a special opportunity with your enormous influence to send alarm signals across the Nation. To our friends in foreign countries: We know many of you are involved in this battle with us. We need your success as well as ours. When we all come together, united, striving for this cause, then those who are killing America and terrorizing it with slow but sure chemical destruction will see that they are up against the mightiest force for good that we know. Then they will have no dark alleyways to hide in.

In this crusade, let us not forget who we are. Drug abuse is a repudiation of everything America is. The destructiveness and human wreckage mock our heritage. Think for a moment how special it is to be an American. Can we doubt that only a divine providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people on the world who yearn to breathe free?

The revolution out of which our liberty was conceived signaled an historical call to an entire world seeking hope. Each new arrival of immigrants rode the crest of that hope. They came, millions seeking a safe harbor from the oppression of cruel regimes. They came, to escape starvation and disease. They came, those surviving the Holocaust and the Soviet gulags. They came, the boat people, chancing death for even a glimmer of hope that they could have a new life. They all came to taste the air redolent and rich with the freedom that is ours. What an insult it will be to what we are and whence we came if we do not rise up together in defiance against this cancer of drugs.

And there's one more thing. The freedom that so many seek in our land has not been preserved without a price. Nancy and I shared that remembrance 2 years ago at the Normandy American Cemetery in France. In the still of that June afternoon, we walked together among the soldiers of freedom, past the hundreds of white markers which are monuments to courage and memorials to sacrifice. Too many of these and other such graves are the final resting places of teenagers who became men in the roar of battle.

Look what they gave to us who live. Never would they see another sunlit day glistening off a lake or river back home or miles of corn pushing up against the open sky of our plains. The pristine air of our mountains and the driving energy of our cities are theirs no more. Nor would they ever again be a son to their parents or a father to their own children. They did this for you, for me, for a new generation to carry our democratic experiment proudly forward. Well, that's something I think we're obliged to honor, because what they did for us means that we owe as a simple act of civic stewardship to use our freedom wisely for the common good.

As we mobilize for this national crusade, I'm mindful that drugs are a constant temptation for millions. Please remember this when your courage is tested: You are Americans. You're the product of the freest society mankind has ever known. No one, ever, has the right to destroy your dreams and shatter your life.

Right down the end of this hall is the Lincoln Bedroom. But in the Civil War that room was the one President Lincoln used as his office. Memory fills that room, and more than anything that memory drives us to see vividly what President Lincoln sought to save. Above all, it is that America must stand for something and that our heritage lets us stand with a strength of character made more steely by each layer of challenge pressed upon the Nation. We Americans have never been normally neutral against any form of tyranny. Tonight we're asking no more than that we honor what we have been and what we are by standing together.

Mrs. Reagan. No we go on to the next stop: making a final commitment not to tolerate drugs by anyone, anytime, anyplace. So, won't you join us in this great, new national crusade?


Watch the video: Address to the Nation on Drug Abuse Campaign, September 14, 1986 (May 2022).