Despite investing $1 billion in a massive anti-drug campaign, a controversial new study suggests that the push has failed to help the United States win the war on drugs.
A congressionally mandated study released today concluded that the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign launched in the late 1990s to encourage young people to stay away from drugs "is unlikely to have had favorable effects on youths."
In fact, the study's authors assert that anti-drug ads may have unwittingly delivered the message that other kids were doing drugs, inadvertently slowing measured progress that was being made to curb marijuana use among teenagers.
"Youths who saw the campaign ads took from them the message that their peers were using marijuana," the report suggests as a possible reason for its findings. "In turn, those who came to believe that their peers were using marijuana were more likely to initiate use themselves." [ABC News]
Ironically, if reformers actually wanted more kids to use marijuana, we’d support the drug czar’s ad campaign. His propaganda appears to have encouraged use among those viewing the ads, even as marijuana use among America’s youth was decreasing overall. Based on the data, it's entirely possible that youth drug use would be even lower – and U.S. taxpayers would be $1 billion richer – if the drug czar had never run these ads in the first place.