Pubdate: Sun, 12 Apr 2009
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2009 The Washington Post Company
Author: Dan Bernath


As a product of Fairfax County schools (West Springfield High School,
class of 1992), I was heartbroken at the story of Josh Anderson, the
South Lakes High School junior who committed suicide when faced with
expulsion for marijuana ["Unbending Rules on Drugs in Schools Drive
One Teen to the Breaking Point," Metro, April 5].

It easily could have been me. Like Josh and far too many of his peers
now and my peers then, I experimented with marijuana in high school.
And, like Josh, I was stupid.

But I never got caught. I got to learn from my mistakes, graduate with
my friends, earn a college degree, serve in the military and pursue a
successful, rewarding career.

Nobody takes teen marijuana use lightly, but more than 40 percent of
12th-graders tell federal government surveyors that they've used
marijuana. Does it really make sense to have a policy that would expel
nearly half of our students?

By clinging to irrational zero-tolerance policies rooted in drug war
hysteria, we abdicate our responsibility to safely guide our children
into adulthood, and we teach them all the wrong lessons about building
a sensible, compassionate society.

Dan Bernath

Assistant Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

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