I was fascinated to read the opposing views held by Phil Harrison on May 21 (Decriminalizing drugs is not the solution) and Glenn Countryman on May 27 (Decriminalization does not mean legalization) over the decriminalization of drugs.
It is a common rebuttal in this debate to say that decriminalization will only encourage youth to act recklessly, that it will allow people to indulge even more in habits that could kill them.
This does not have to be the case. Decriminalization does not have to mean increased drug use amongst youth if we can combat it with education.
I am a graduating high school student, and I can safely say that never in my high school career was I taught about the dangers of drug use. Posters were put up in a futile attempt to combat vaping, and some teachers mentioned as an aside that marijuana can affect the development of a teen’s brain, but I was never taught about the physical, emotional, and social aspects of psychoactive substance abuse. If not for my personal research on the subject of addiction, I would not be half as aware of the dangers as I am now.
The role of drug prevention amongst youth should not be left up to parents.
The more people are educated on addiction and substance abuse, the less decriminalization of drugs would be an issue going forward, as today’s youth would know the harms and long-term effects of drugs and be responsible. It is time to include awareness of addiction in school curriculums so that everybody gets the same chance to learn about drug use and make informed choices. Decriminalization is not the issue, a lack of education is.