11/22/2005 04:17 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey About the War on Drugs

What would happen if there was open and honest debate about drug use and drug policy in the U.S.? What if people just started talking candidly, truthfully and without fear of judgment or recrimination?

Change starts at home. And family holiday gatherings can be the perfect place to bring up the issues you care about. Drugs and drug policy can be tough subjects to tackle, so my organization, Drug Policy Alliance, has developed Talking Over Turkey, a toolkit to inspire real family conversations about drug policy.

Parents who want to initiate a discussion about drugs with their children can also supplement the packet with the "Dear Johnny" letter, written by Safety First director Marsha Rosenbaum to her son as he was entering high school. The packet centers around an L.A. Times Op-Ed, "Behind Bars: Let those dopers be," by Norm Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police Department and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing (Nation Books, 2005).

Stamper's article can serve as a jumping-off point for discussion. The toolkit includes questions and talking points that will come in handy whether you're struggling to broach the topic with your great aunt, or looking for a meaningful dialogue with your teenage son or daughter.

So bring a copy along with the candied yams when you meet your family for the holidays. Then, when the person next to you at the table asks what you've been reading lately, you can begin, "Actually, there's this one article..."