Activists protest DARE program in Keystone Heights
March 2000

On February 29th 2000, almost a dozen activists and children gathered at Keystone Heights Elementary School where the monthly PTA meeting was occurring. The activists were protesting the arrest of parents of a student at the school in November for cultivation of marijuana charges. The child, 11 years old and a 6th grader, turned in his parents to DARE officers at the school upon their insistence to report all drug abusers including their parents to police.

"It is scary that we now have police in our schools recruiting children into the war on drugs," said Scott Bledsoe, Vice President of the Florida Cannabis Action Network (CAN). As an alternative to police, activists suggested that medical health professionals be given the task to truthfully educate our children about drug use and abuse.

A majority of the parents agreed with the activists who almost outnumbered them. However a few were opposed to the message emblazoned on the 10-foot banner carried by the protesters, "Don't you DARE arrest my parents."

"I was also rather pleased with the actions of the Clay County Sheriff's Department," said Bledsoe. "They sent one unmarked officer who told us he was there to protect our rights." This is a far cry from the policy of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in neighboring Duval County, which seems to be one of intimidation and harassment.

CAN will be in action again on March 14th as petitioners head to the polls during the presidential primary elections held statewide. On the last week in March, CAN will also be a part of the Journey for Justice from Starke Prison to Governor Jeb Bush's Office in Tallahassee to demand human rights for non-violent prisoners and amnesty for medical marijuana patients.

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