Protecting Youth

Young People are Central to Drug Policy

People get emotional about kids and drugs, for good reason. However, that emotion has led to some ineffective, discriminatory and harmful policies. At the Drug Policy Alliance, we care about protecting youth from the potential harms associated with both drug use and drug prohibition.

A young person’s relationship to alcohol and other drugs begins with how these substances, and the laws around them, impact their family and caregivers. As they grow, young people may experiment on their own and can be particularly susceptible to the potential harmful consequences of drug use.

Although most people “age out” of using drugs without developing a problematic relationship with them, early drug use increases the risk that there will be later problems. At DPA we believe that we need to shepherd youth through these vulnerable years.

This is especially true for black and brown youth, who are disproportionately targeted by drug law enforcement efforts and funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline. “Zero tolerance” policies have caused irreparable harm to communities of color and to society at large.

DPA’s Work

The Drug Policy Alliance works to keep young people safe by presenting them with honest facts about drugs. We also fight for fair and just laws. DPA aims to protect youth throughout the various stages of their lives:

Childhood: Strengthening Families
DPA fights for laws that will strengthen and protect children, families and communities, rather than break them up by removing children or incarcerating parents.

High School: Real Drug Education
DPA is developing Safety First, an honest, science-based drug education curriculum for ninth- and tenth-graders.

College: Federal Student Aid Access
DPA fights for everyone, including people who have been convicted of drug law violations, to have access to federal financial aid for education.

Young Adulthood: Safer Partying
DPA runs the #SaferPartying campaign to make sure that young people at festivals, concerts and clubs have access to life-saving services and are not needlessly criminalized.

Protecting Youth