Back in March 2016, I wrote an LTE here: “DARE Education needed for Ontario’s Youth.” This week, our Police Chief is offering a Drug Prevention and Education Seminar at the High School. May this be the first step in the City engaging in Drug Education that is regular, consistent, and HONEST. The DARE program of the 1990s, which was based out of enforcement not education, had two fundamental flaws from my point of view as a child of the program: 1. equating all substances (alcohol=marijuana=heroin) regardless of levels of harmfulness and 2. “Just Say No” phrasing. As an educator, I can assure you this type of “education” does not actually teach anything, but instead is a scare tactic that leads to deeper misunderstanding and drug problems. As citizens, if we are to be supportive of drug education by our city law enforcement, we also have the responsibility to make sure it is not full of smoke-and-mirrors, half-truths, and unreal expectations that just set-up failure. 1. Marijuana is not heroin (an opioid not much different than morphine) but is still harmful to a different degree. 2. If a kid fails to say “no” to one thing, it is much easier for the adolescent brain to then say “yes” to things that are presented as equal. The truth is: morphine and marijuana are both useful “drugs” in context and moderation, as are caffeine, acetometaphine (like Tylenol), CBD and/or antibiotics. What is worrisome is overuse, abuse, and physical or mental addiction to any substance or activity. I think true drug education tells the entire story of the substance, from how it is made to the effects is has on the body, brain, and society. Let’s address curriculum with the goal of education, not centralized in fear mongering, please.

Sammy Castonguay,


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