Pubdate: Thu, 25 Apr 2002
Source: Colorado Daily (CO)
Copyright: 2002 Colorado Daily
Authors: Robert Sharpe, Adam Wiggins


Thank you for raising awareness of the Higher Education Act's denial of 
student loans to youth convicted of drug offenses. 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 are still eligible for federal loans.

Most teenagers outgrow their youthful indiscretions involving drugs. An 
arrest and criminal record, on the other hand, can be life-shattering. 
After admitting to smoking pot (but not inhaling), Clinton opened himself 
up to "soft on drugs" criticism. And thousands of Americans have paid the 
price in the form of shattered lives. More Americans went to prison or jail 
during the Clinton administration than during any past administration.

As an admitted former drinker and alleged illicit drug user, President 
George W. Bush is also politically vulnerable. While youthful indiscretions 
didn't stop Clinton or Bush from assuming leadership positions, an arrest 
surely would have. The short-term health effects of marijuana are 
inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records.

Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, but arrests are hardly 
appropriate health interventions for non-traditional drugs. Unlike alcohol, 
marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it 
share the addictive properties of tobacco. Unfortunately, marijuana 
represents the counterculture to misguided reactionaries intent on forcibly 
imposing their version of morality. This country cannot afford to continue 
subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.
Program Officer
Drug Policy Alliance
Washington, D.C.

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Kudos for the excellent article "Drugs And Colleges Not Mixing", April 18. 
I am flabbergasted that our federal government believes that denying 
someone an education is a good way to keep them from using drugs. It seems 
to me that such efforts would have quite the opposite effect!

Adam Wiggins
Director, Neoteric
Pasadena, CA 
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