D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year Discusses Relative Using Medical Cannabis for Cancer

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education, aka D.A.R.E., has been teaching kids about substance abuse since 1983 with a mission of delivering science and evidence-based curricula. Recently, a D.A.R.E. documentary published by Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan on April 12 spoke with numerous individuals regarding the D.A.R.E. program and discussed the failure of the War on Drugs. Callaghan attended D.A.R.E.’s annual conference, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada last July. An estimated 500 attendees were present for D.A.R.E. officer training.

Part of the conference included presenting awards for 2023 D.A.R.E. Student of the Year and 2023 D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year Mark Gilmore, from Kosciusko, Mississippi. Gilmore commented on his ability as a D.A.R.E. officer to apprehend any students who possess any amount of drugs, which includes even the smallest amount of weed.

D.A.R.E.’s 2022 Officer of the Year, Alex Mendoza of the Irvine Police Department spoke with Callaghan about shifting D.A.R.E.’s approach to drug prevention deterring kids from using drugs. “For me, it’s really about educating the youth that are out there,” Mendoza said. “To give them the tools necessary to navigate whatever pain that they’re going through. I think that if you don’t have that self-love for yourself and that resiliency, then you’re gonna go to that external source, whatever that might be.”

Callaghan asked, “Do you feel the same way about alcohol?” to which Mendoza replied, “Absolutely. I mean, alcohol is a gateway drug.” Callaghan then asked Mendoza if he drinks alcohol, and Mendoza confirmed that he does so rarely, or “maybe once or twice within a month period of time.” He gave an example, stating that he recently had an alcoholic drink at his daughter’s wedding during a toast.

Callaghan addressed this issue in the documentary, citing the validity of calling alcohol a gateway drug. He asked Mendoza if he felt cannabis could be treated in the same way as alcohol. “You know, there’s so many things about marijuana that go far beyond, I guess, really our understanding, right?” said Mendoza. “From a lot of the statistics that are out there, obviously, they say that it can be more dangerous than tobacco products.”

However, he did note that there are many instances where cannabis is being used to help patients to deal with the symptoms of their condition. “I think the problem that you run into is that you have the people that truly legitimately have a need and a purpose behind it and will use it to help them navigate their pain,” said Mendoza. “My brother-in-law recently passed away of cancer, and he didn’t want to go with any type of prescription medication. He wanted something natural and he resulted to using THC to deal with his pain. And it helped him. He passed away, but it helped him navigate that, right? And then you have, unfortunately, people that will use that as an excuse to try to use that product for recreational purposes.”

D.A.R.E. President and CEO Francisco Pegueros, who formerly worked for the Los Angeles Police department, concluded the conference with a speech. In a one-on-one interview, Callaghan mentioned that people being critical of the War on Drugs, Pegueros said “Well, there was some evidence that certain governmental agencies were involved in a lot of activity that were kind of contrary to the whole concept of the war on drugs,” Pegueros said. Callaghan called the “CIA giving crack to Freeway Ricky Ross,” or how the federal government was supplying Ross with cocaine for illegal sales. “It’s an unfortunate part of our history. But evidently, it’s reality,” Pegueros said.

The documentary also interviewed one individual named Hailey, who was the only protester outside of last year’s D.A.R.E. conference last year. “We don’t try to outlaw sex. We don’t try to outlaw driving. We don’t try to outlaw guns,” Hailey stated. “We don’t try to outlaw all these things that come with risk but can be easily have these safety measures put in place, much like we do with pharmaceuticals.”

Callaghan briefly spoke with Bill Russel, also known as RETRO BILL, who has spoken to kids across the country for more than 25 years in partnership with D.A.R.E. to warn kids about how drugs, including cannabis, are harmful and dangerous.

The documentary stated that the D.A.R.E. program cost American taxpayers up to $750 million per year in the 1990s, up until a 1998 University of Michigan study showed that drug use continued to rise between 1992-1995, despite the nationwide prevalence of D.A.R.E.

It also reviewed the rise of the War on Drugs through actions from former presidents Richard Nixon and later, Ronald Reagan. Former President Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in 1994, and D.A.R.E. lost its federal funding in 1998.

The post D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year Discusses Relative Using Medical Cannabis for Cancer appeared first on High Times.


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