Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jan 2002
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2002 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Mett Ausley, M.D.
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)


The Daily Mail's Jan. 1 editorial, "College: Those who sell drugs should 
not get federal aid," endorsing the financial aid ban to students convicted 
of drug offenses, lacks evidence of the worth or efficacy of this measure. 
What little fact and reasoning it supplies is wrong.

Contrary to the editorial's claim, this ban is not limited to drug
dealers, and does indeed affect students caught "smoking a little
pot." The Higher Education Act restricts or bars federal aid even to
those convicted of misdemeanor possession or paraphernalia charges,
and distinguishes little between wholesale heroin trafficking and
possessing the forgotten remnant of a joint from a recent class reunion.

Your flippant dismissal of the plainly disparate impact on needy
students reflects a troubling but prevalent mean attitude, fostered by
the drug enforcement bureaucracy's shrill propaganda organ, that even
basic fairness and decency are dispensable to the illusory goal of
eradicating prohibited substance use.

Likewise, older nontraditional students such as displaced workers
desperate for new job skills are far more likely to be affected than
fresh-faced high school graduates. The editorial ignored the glaring
inconsistency that mere killers, rapists and robbers may grace the
swards and halls of our campuses unburdened by the special punishment
reserved for heinous marijuana smokers.

With pious moralism and vindictiveness supplanting rational policy,
the failed war on drugs is degenerating into a pogrom. This fatuous
law should be repealed immediately.

Mett Ausley Jr., M.D.,
Waccamaw, N.C.
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