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Anti-Drug Campaigns Shift Focus from Marijuana to Prescription Drugs

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After years of focusing primarily on marijuana use, antidrug campaigns from both the private and public sector have turned their attention to what's seen as a more urgent problem: prescription-drug misuse, CBS News reported July 15.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA), for example, hasn't put out a new ad on marijuana since 2005, and the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) parent-oriented prevention campaign also has shifted to addressing prescription drugs exclusively.

Prevention leaders said a combination of declining youth marijuana use and increasing misuse of prescription drugs is behind the trend. “There is a new threat in town,” said Robert Denniston of ONDCP.

PDFA now refers to young Americans as Generation Rx in its ads. “For this generation, high prevalence of prescription drug abuse was kicking in … there was a dawning, and a number of us began to feel that we need to do something about it,” said Sean Clark, the group's executive vice president.

Drug-reform advocates say that prescription drugs also are more dangerous and addictive than marijuana. “The government is talking about the dangers of acetaminophen — this stuff is given out like candy and can kill,” said Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project. “When you put it in that context, marijuana almost looks benign.”

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