Pubdate: Wed, 14 Jul 2010
Source: Daily Reveille (Louisiana State U, LA Edu)
Copyright: 2010 Daily Reveille
Author: Trevor Fanning
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)


Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United 
States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.

The average American teenager or young adult will experiment with 
marijuana sometime in high school or college. Ambitious students may 
altogether shun socially stigmatized hallucinogenic drugs, but many 
of us hold less lofty personal standards, especially as adolescents.

Conviction for possession of marijuana will strip even a 4.0 
undergraduate of his student loans for one year. Repeat offenders 
fare worse: A second offense will suspend one's student loans for two 
years, and after three strikes ... well, you know the saying. 
Third-time offenders will be indefinitely barred from obtaining 
student loans, as mandated by the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act.

Drug laws and their mandatory minimum sentencing policies have more 
harmful effects than actually smoking marijuana ever would on 
students' academic careers. Moreover, the drug laws 
disproportionately affect individuals of lower income status and minorities.

Violent criminal offenses, meanwhile, warrant no such punishment. 
Arsonists, thieves and vandals could theoretically retain their 
student loans if they were spared a lengthy sentencing and allowed to 
return to college.

Marijuana is a non-addictive herb that grows naturally all over the 
world. Yet it is classified as a Schedule I substance by the U.S. 
Drug Enforcement Administration - a categorization that brands the 
drug as more dangerous, addictive or medically useless than any 
Schedule II substances such as crack-cocaine, methamphetamine, 
OxyContin, a litany of addictive prescription painkillers and raw opium.

The DEA's assertion that marijuana is dangerously addictive and 
devoid of medical quality is nonsense. Medical marijuana is currently 
prescribed in 14 states and has proven medicinal benefits. It reduces 
swelling for patients with glaucoma, increases appetite for patients 
suffering from AIDS and may prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease 
for the elderly.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders, MD, attested to the 
drug's medicinal value in a Providence Journal editorial in 2004, 
writing, "The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve 
certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by 
such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS."

The federal government has attached a ludicrous penalty to 
misdemeanor possession of a substance less dangerous than alcohol. 
Conservative baby boomers and the politically active geriatric 
constituency are responsible for promulgating and maintaining an 
antiquated "Reefer Madness" mindset from the 1930s.

Young people and students, nevertheless, are failing to rebuke the 
grave error inherent in absurd drug laws and their overbearing penalties.

Non-violent drug offenses like the possession of discrete amounts of 
marijuana, which ought to have the same criminal priority as 
jaywalking, are instead sapping taxpayer money and judicial resources 
by being taken to court. Approximately one-fifth of prison inmates 
are incarcerated for committing non-violent drug offenses.

Contrary to the antiquated opinions of an alcohol-softened middle age 
demographic and the regressive attitudes of the whiskey gentry, 
possessing several grams of a benign weed, that perfectly normal 
people occasionally enjoy smoking in their pipe like tobacco, does 
not permanently write off an entire generation as useless malcontents.

Millions of adults in the United States use marijuana responsibly.

Drug and alcohol awareness programs like D.A.R.E. are great for kids, 
since the best preventative measures against substance abuse are 
always those that educate. Marijuana should be espoused, in such 
youth programs, as a safe alternative to alcohol.

Instances of drunk driving, domestic abuse, disorderly conduct and 
generally violent and reckless behavior would all be slashed if our 
government reversed its legal predilection for alcohol over 
marijuana. Lung cancer rates resulting from tobacco use would be 
lessened in our current population if a non-carcinogenic, 
non-addictive alternative were offered to cigarette smokers via vaporized THC.

Drug laws are unnecessarily jeopardizing our students' futures, and 
we are obligated as politically conscious adults to refute this injustice.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom