Drug-free school zone is a term used in the United States to denote an area within a certain distance, most commonly 1,000 feet, of the nearest school, park, or other public area. Signs to this effect are generally posted along all public streets at the entrances to such an area.
The term is somewhat misleading, in that the sale or even possession of recreational drugs is uniformly illegal throughout the United States; what does make the signs arguably relevant, however, is that the laws in most American states now call for increased criminal penalties for drug sales (and, in some of these states, possession of drugs in sufficient quantity as to suggest an intent to distribute on the part of the person possessing said drugs) that occur within the designated zone. Other prohibited activities include gang involvement and carrying weapons. The first laws of this kind were passed in the late 1980s.
However, within these drug-free school zones there are often increased enforcement efforts, with a subsequent increase in arrests. Some argue that the punishment for these laws are draconian, involving long prison terms for people who possess small amounts of illegal drugs.
The term is uncertain as defined above since every place in the US is inherently supposed to be a drug-free zone, and the same goes for most of the democracies (excluding some areas in Europe). For example, in India, no alcohol shops can be opened close to areas such as educational institutes and religious institutions. The same goes for tobacco.