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Top D.A.R.E. Officer Says Medical Marijuana Helped His Brother-In-Law Treat Cancer Pain



The anti-drug group D.A.R.E.’s 2022 officer of the year asserts in a new online documentary that “alcohol is a gateway drug”—though he occasionally drinks it. But marijuana is another story and can’t be safely enjoyed recreationally, he says, despite believing that cannabis has medical value after it helped treat his brother-in-law’s cancer-related pain.

D.A.R.E.’s president, meanwhile, acknowledges in the documentary that some of the criticism of the war on drugs might have something to do with earlier scandals within federal agencies, such as the CIA’s implication in a cocaine-smuggling conspiracy that he described as an “unfortunate part of our history.”

As the decades-old program works to reshape its image and move away from its scaremongering anti-drug roots under the Reagan administration, the leaders of the group convened for an international conference in Las Vegas last year where independent journalist Andrew Callaghan spoke to them about contemporary drug policy issues.

The interviews are featured in a documentary for the Callahan’s YouTube program Channel 5 that was released this month.

One of the more notable conversations involved Alex Mendoza, the 2022 D.A.R.E. officer of the year, who has worked to redefine the program’s approach to youth drug prevention.

“For me, it’s really about educating the youth that are out there—to give them the tools necessary to navigate whatever pain that they’re going through” that might lead to substance misuse, he said. “I think that if you don’t have that self-love for yourself and that resiliency, then you’re gonna go to that external source, whatever that might be.”

“Do you feel the same way about alcohol?” Callaghan asked.

“Absolutely. I mean, alcohol is a gateway drug,” Mendoza said.

“You don’t drink?” the reporter pressed.

The D.A.R.E. official admitted he does drink, albeit “rarely” and “maybe once or twice within a month period of time.”

As Callaghan noted in his narration, that admission seemed to call into question the very concept of the gateway drug theory. If this decorated D.A.R.E. officer could responsibly and recreationally use what he had just described as a “gateway drug,” why wouldn’t the same principle apply to marijuana?

“Do you feel that marijuana can be treated the same way—like semi-recreational, not necessarily a gateway drug?” the journalist asked.

“You know, there’s so many things about about marijuana that go far beyond, I guess, really our understanding, right?” Mendoza replied. “From a lot of the statistics that are out there, obviously, they say that it can be more dangerous than tobacco products.”

However, the D.A.R.E. officer went on to say that he’s aware there are “people out there that say that marijuana could be used to treat people that have some sort of illnesses to help them navigate and deal with that.”

“I think the problem that you run into is that you have the people that truly legitimately have a need and a purpose behind it and will use it to help them navigate their pain,” he said. “My brother-in-law recently passed away of cancer, and he didn’t want to go with any type of prescription medication. He wanted something natural and he resorted to using THC to deal with his pain. And it helped.”

“It helps them navigate that, right?” Mendoza continued. “And then you have, unfortunately, people that will use that as an excuse to try to use that product for recreational purposes.”

Later in the documentary, Callaghan talks to D.A.R.E. President and CEO Francisco Pegueros, a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who oversaw one of the department’s more controversial divisions in the 1980s.

“A lot of people were critical of the war on drugs overall,” Callaghan acknowledged.

“Well, there was some evidence that certain governmental agencies were involved in a lot of activity that were kind of contrary to the whole concept of the war on drugs,” Pegueros said.

“Are you talking about, like, the CIA giving crack to Freeway Ricky Ross?” the journalist asked, referencing reports from the 1980s that the federal intelligence agency had a relationship with an international drug trafficking syndicate that was supplying Ross with cocaine for domestic illicit sales before he was convicted.

“It’s an unfortunate part of our history. But evidently, it’s reality,” Pegueros said.

South Carolina House Panel Takes Up Senate-Passed Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill After Months Of Delay

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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