Zero Tolerance Drug Policies

The Drug Policy Alliance supports school drug policies that focus on helping, not punishing, youth who use alcohol and other drugs problematically. Expelling or suspending students and denying them the structure and supervision that school provides puts them at greater risk of harm.
We believe schools should eliminate zero tolerance policies in favor of effective drug education that stresses open communication and counseling for students with substance use problems.
For students who violate rules on substance use, we advocate assistance and support instead of punishment. In the case of illegal behavior, such as possession of illicit substances or drug dealing on campus, schools should avoid punitive consequences and instead institute student assistance programs (SAPs). Staff in SAPs coordinate with teachers, administrators, and families to identify students who need assistance, not only due to substance misuse, but also for other negative influences that interfere with their learning and personal development.