Todays drug programs in schools use abstinence based approaches that are centered around the idea that avoiding marijuana is the only acceptable option and often rely on the stigmatization of drug use and users. Although there are many reasons why youth may use cannabis, cannabis education has framed use in very narrow ways and ignored the diverse spectrum of use patterns. Youth often get much of their information online, and many older programs have ignored the digital context of how our generation obtains, explores, and generates information about marijuana use. Education must provide honest, age-appropriate information, which will ultimately arm young people with the skills necessary to take personal responsibility for their health and decision making. Youth will encounter cannabis, so honest information and ongoing discussions about cannabis will help them navigate the changing legal landscape and experiences with friends, family and acquaintances.
1. Heavy handed and fear based approaches to drug education can alienate young people and undermine the credibility of the education efforts.
2. Emerging research suggests the importance of including harm reduction strategies in drug education to address the needs of young people, including those who may be using cannabis.