"Just say no": Sessions cites old school anti-drug motto

“I think we have too much of a tolerance for drug use ─ psychologically, politically, morally,” Sessions told law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia. “We need to say, as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no.'”

Sessions invoked a phrase that was once central to President Ronald Reagan’s 1980s war on drugs.

“Just Say No” was the marketing mantra behind a public-education campaign that complemented an offensive marked by aggressive policing and mandatory-minimum prison sentences. The zero-tolerance approach, a response to fears about crack cocaine, helped drive down crime rates but also fueled a dramatic increase in the American prison population.

Thirty-five years later, the iconic slogan, and the advertising campaigns it inspired (“This is your brain on drugs”), are now considered by many outdated and ineffective. The same thing goes for many of the resulting drug-education programs, which were based on the “Just Say No” model of lecturing resistance to peer pressure. Perhaps the best known of them is DARE, in which police officers warn kids about the dangers of drugs.