Why Should We Just Say No?

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NORML’s Allen St. Pierre to visit Fayetteville

By Robert Pfountz

“Just Say No.” No three words have better defined a generation and their inability to resist the consumption of psychoactive substances.

What the government’s paternalistic policy continually fails to explain is “why should we say no,” and specifically to what?

The use of mind-altering drugs has been pervasive throughout human history. Leading scholars on the subject, like Dr. Andrew Weil, have said that “Drug use is universal” and it “is so common that it seems to be a basic human activity.”

If this is true, then our society’s resistance to an innate human behavior may be an uphill battle and a “zero tolerance” policy an elusive goal.

When the “moral panic” of a perceived drug epidemic erupted in the 80s, politicians sought to capitalize on this emotional bubble by enacting draconian policies like mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.

It took only a few years for the symptoms of prison overcrowding to manifest and local organizations like CAN (Cannabis Action Network) and FACT (Fayetteville Alliance for Cannabis Tolerance) to form in opposition to these alarming effects.

It was not very surprising that in the early 90s FACT was denied student government funding at The University of Arkansas because of their ideology.

When FACT threatened an ACLU lawsuit for selective discrimination, the university remitted their stance. This allowed FACT to pave the way in Northwest Arkansas for groups like NORML, Drug Policy Education Group, The Arkansas Alliance for Medical Marijuana, Sensible Fayetteville, and the more recent Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).

The current chapter at the University of Arkansas, SSDP/NORML, neither encourages nor condemns drug use. SSDP/NORML recognizes drug abuse as a very real problem, and advocates measures that would effectively help those with drug addiction. SSDP/NORML continually promotes policies in which drug abuse is treated as a medical issue instead of a criminal problem. The solutions they seek are focused research, honest dialogue and informed debate.

The unquestioned extremism, punishment, and propaganda that spawned from the Reagans’ “Just Say No” approach are unacceptable.

To further this goal, SSDP/NORML has invited NORML’s executive director, Allen St. Pierre, to come speak at the University of Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. This event is free and open to the public, and will be in the Union’s Alltel Ballroom with free catered food.

To paraphrase Drug Policy Alliance’s Ethan Nadelmann, “This is an event for those who love drugs, for those who hate drugs, and for those who don’t give a damn about drugs.”

So, come out and learn why Mr. St. Pierre is at the forefront of this movement, and how you can help our entire nation.

Robert Pfountz is president of the University of Arkansas SSDP/NORML

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