D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year Shares Insights on Medical Cannabis Use for Cancer

The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, established in 1983, has been a cornerstone of substance abuse education among youth. A recent documentary, led by Andrew Callaghan and published by Channel 5 on April 12, delved into the program’s impact and the evolving conversation around drug prevention and policies. Callaghan’s exploration took him to D.A.R.E.’s annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, where approximately 500 attendees gathered for officer training.

At the conference, Mark Gilmore, named the 2023 D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year from Kosciusko, Mississippi, discussed the program’s commitment to preventing drug use among students, including even the smallest possession of substances like cannabis.

Alex Mendoza, the 2022 D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year from the Irvine Police Department, shared insights on shifting D.A.R.E.’s approach towards drug prevention, emphasizing the importance of educating youth and providing them with tools to navigate challenges without turning to substances like alcohol, which he referred to as a gateway drug.

During the documentary, Mendoza discussed the complex nature of cannabis, acknowledging its medicinal benefits for patients dealing with conditions like cancer. He shared a personal anecdote about his brother-in-law, who found relief from pain using THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, during his battle with cancer.

Francisco Pegueros, President and CEO of D.A.R.E., addressed criticisms of the War on Drugs, acknowledging past government involvement in activities contrary to drug prevention efforts, such as supplying drugs for illegal sales.

The documentary also featured perspectives from individuals critical of D.A.R.E.’s approach, highlighting the need for nuanced discussions around drug policy and education. Bill Russel, known as RETRO BILL, emphasized the dangers of drug use, including cannabis, in his work with D.A.R.E. over the past 25 years.

Reflecting on D.A.R.E.’s history, the documentary noted its significant cost to taxpayers in the 1990s and the subsequent loss of federal funding in 1998 following studies showing minimal impact on drug use rates.

Through interviews and insights, the documentary provided a multifaceted view of D.A.R.E.’s legacy, the complexities of drug policy, and the ongoing dialogue surrounding substance abuse prevention.


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