Just Say No

As a child of the 1980s and 1990s, I was admonished regularly to avoid the use of drugs. First Lady Nancy Reagan championed the “Just Say No” campaign, lending it national credibility. Drug use couldn’t be depicted positively in cartoons or comic books, and warning labels were put on albums that glorified drug use. Afterschool programs and “very special episodes” of popular sitcoms warned viewers of the dangers of drug abuse. And who from that era could forget the famous Partnership for a Drug-Free America commercial that compared “your brain on drugs” to an egg frying on a hot skillet?

During these years crack cocaine menaced America’s inner cities, teenagers were warned that someone might slip ecstasy into their drinks at parties, and growing abuse of prescription drugs was paving the way for the opioid epidemic of the 21st century. But by far the most common drug was marijuana. Experts cautioned that marijuana was more harmful than cigarettes, the latter of which were beginning to be increasingly regulated. Furthermore, marijuana could be a “gateway drug” to more potent substances such as cocaine and heroin.

To be sure, many people smoked pot. But nobody with any credibility claimed marijuana was a good thing. In fact, while running for president in 1992, then-candidate Bill Clinton went to great lengths to assure Americans he “didn’t inhale” when he “experimented with marijuana” while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in 1968. I’m not sure most people believed Clinton, but the point is he had to offer his caveat because everybody knew that marijuana was bad for you.

Click Here to Read More (Originally Published at World Magazine

Nathan A. Finn is professor of faith and culture and directs the Institute for Transformational Leadership at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C. He is a research fellow for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and is senior editor for Integration: A Journal of Faith and Learning. He also serves as teaching pastor at the First Baptist Church of Taylors, S.C.