Paying Tribute to Nancy Reagan’s Legacy

Paying Tribute to Nancy Reagan’s Legacy

192px-Nancy_ReaganFormer First Lady Nancy Reagan was laid to rest last week, amid glowing tributes and remembrances from dignitaries across the nation.

However, this being the modern era, her death also sparked criticisms, like this one that argued her “Just Say No” anti-drug initiative was a failure.

Not only did it create hysteria and lead to mass incarcerations, the article said that fears behind it are supposedly obsolete, as marijuana legalization becomes a reality in more states.

A Negative Development

That more states are legalizing marijuana may be true, but I would argue wholeheartedly with the idea that that is a positive development.

Indeed, as our nation struggles mightily with an opioid crisis—whose twin brother is heroin abuse—I seriously wonder about the wisdom of opening the door wider to Mary Jane.

Nancy ReaganI say this because of my own experience, having lived through the 1980s, when increasing cocaine and crack use begat the current drug crisis that threatens to engulf every community.

In addition, I lived through a crisis in our own household. The same year Nancy Reagan launched “Just Say No,” I lived through the pain of seeing a family member enter a 60-day hospital drug treatment program.

The Nightmare of Drugs

Children and former spouses of alcoholics take a much dimmer view than the rest of us of wine, beer and liquor. And, those who have lived through the nightmare of drug abuse under your own roof have a much less sanguine view of marijuana, cocaine and pills.

It strikes me that part of our nation’s ongoing struggle with drugs is rooted in a decreasing concern for society as a whole. Having seen the impact of drug abuse up close and the wake of destruction, wasted opportunities, and lingering damage it leaves behind, I can’t take a “do whatever makes you feel good” attitude towards others using marijuana and other drugs.

My opposition stems not from a puritanical concern that somewhere, someone might be enjoying themselves, but because I don’t wish to see others suffer the same heartache I lived through.

Just Say No

bong-170932_1920Ironically, just before Mrs. Reagan’s funeral, the New York Times reported that senators were citing her “Just Say No” efforts in their call to adopt legislation to combat the opioid epidemic.

Such comments show the awesome reach of presidential influence. And, that Mrs. Reagan’s anti-drug legacy isn’t quite as worthless as her critics claim.

That millions rejected her call to refuse drugs, or were unable to withstand the temptations offered by drug pushers, doesn’t invalidate the legitimacy of her idea. As we grapple with the impact of widespread overdoses, death, high crime and other negative influences of drugs, it might not be a bad idea to repeat Mrs. Reagan’s famous tagline.


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