Pubdate: Tue, 27 Nov 2001
Source: Cavalier Daily (VA Edu)
Copyright: 2001 The Cavalier Daily, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe,
Cited: Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)


I would like to thank Laura Sahramaa for raising awareness of the Higher 
Education Act's denial of student loans to youth convicted of drug offenses 
in her Nov. 20 column, "Drug law trips over contradictions."

Anyone born into a wealthy family need not fear the impact of HEA. Instead 
of empowering at-risk students with a college degree, HEA limits career 
opportunities and increases the likelihood that those affected will resort 
to crime.

Speaking of crime, convicted rapists and murders still are eligible for 
federal student loans.

The hypocrisy of the drug war is glaring. Alcohol poisoning kills thousands 
annually. Tobacco is one of the most addictive substances known to man. 
Marijuana, on the other hand, is not physically addictive and has never 
been shown to cause an overdose death. If health outcomes determined drug 
laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal. The first 
marijuana laws were a racist reaction to Mexican immigration during the 
early 1900s, passed in large part due to newspaper magnate William Randolph 
Hearst's sensationalist yellow journalism. White Americans did not even 
begin to smoke marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government 
bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

These days marijuana is confused with 1960s counterculture. This 
intergenerational culture war does far more harm than marijuana. Illegal 
marijuana provides the black market contacts that introduce consumers to 
hard drugs like cocaine.

This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. 
Taxing and regulating marijuana is a cost-effective alternative to the $50 
billion drug war.

Students who want to make a difference should contact Students for Sensible 
Drug Policy at

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

The Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation
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