Regardless of our admonitions to abstain or delay use, most people will try drugs including alcohol during their lifetime. And, some will do so more regularly than others. Parents and concerned adults everywhere are coming to appreciate that it is harmful to criminalize our kids for something that so many of them and even some of our other family members do.

Police Are a Bigger Threat to Youth than Drugs

The war on drugs has our children squarely in its crosshairs. Instead of protecting them, prohibition puts them doubly at-risk by denying them an honest reality-based education about alcohol and other drugs and by making them targets for police action.  They are endangered first by the potential harms of problematic drug use and then again by the greater harms of prohibition.

The unsettling truth is that the majority of drug arrests in this country are of young people ages 16-24 years. This reality is most acutely and tragically understood among Black and Brown communities, where the war on drugs has changed the rules of law enforcement’s engagement with the public and where extra-judicial police killings have become a bigger threat to young people’s well-being than drugs themselves.

Criminalizing our children doesn’t provide them or us with the tools needed to effectively deal with problematic drug use if it emerges. Let’s face it, imagine if your own child ran into trouble with drugs? What would be more helpful, a doctor’s appointment or a criminal record?