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CONTACT: Tom Riley/Jennifer de Vallance 202–395–6618
September 16, 2002

New Ads Link Marijuana Use and Violence

National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Gives Kids One More Reason Not to Use Pot

(Washington, D.C.)—The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) today unveiled new advertising aimed at debunking the myth that marijuana use is a victimless crime. The ads, part of the ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, illustrate the connection between marijuana users and the many innocent victims of the marijuana trade.

"There's no question that violence and other terrible things permeate the marijuana trade. Innocent people get hurt all the time," said ONDCP Director John Walters. "While many people have made the connection between opium and terror, they see marijuana as a benign drug. Kids need to understand that marijuana is not harmless and if you're using marijuana, you may be hurting other people."

The new ads, entitled "Dan" and "Stacy," feature young marijuana users and trace their drug purchase back to its original source and the violence associated with the marijuana drug trade. Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in America-: of the approximately 14 million current illicit drug users, 10.7 million are using marijuana.

"We're doing everything we can to discourage kids from illegal drugs," said Walters. "Since nearly 60 percent of kids who use drugs are using marijuana only, it's critical that we address the myths surrounding this drug. The link between drugs and violence here at home is one more reason for kids not to use marijuana."

These ads continue a theme that began with earlier Media Campaign ads linking drugs and terror: if you use drugs you may be contributing money to criminals and terrorists at home and around the world. The Drugs and Terror ads—which debuted on the Super Bowl last February—had a powerful impact. Young people surveyed said that seeing the ads made them less likely to use drugs; parents said it gave them another reason to talk to their kids about drugs. The new ads linking marijuana and violence have been tested with parents and young people across the country. Overwhelmingly, audiences said the ads clearly make the connection between marijuana users and terrible crimes.

In 1998, with bipartisan Congressional support, ONDCP created the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign as a multi-dimensional effort designed to educate and empower youth to reject illicit drugs. The Campaign delivers messages to youth on a variety of platforms, including, negative consequences, norm education, positive consequences and resistance skills. It also target parents and other influential adults. Developed from a solid scientific base, this historic effort is supported by television, radio, online and print advertising, school-based educational materials, Internet Web sites and partnerships with civic and faith service organizations.

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