Despite some fronts in the War on Drugs still going strong, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) has won a hard-fought victory against the drug warriors in Congress. Congress has passed a bill that revises the Higher Education Act (HEA) provision restricting eligibility for financial aid, which will be signed into law unless the President finds the veto pen he hasn’t used in six years (unlikely).
The Drug Provision of the HEA was added by Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) in 1998 and restricts anyone with a drug conviction (even simple possession) from receiving Federal financial aid. That means that right now, you can get Federal education funds if you’re a convicted child-raping murderer, but not if you got busted for pot. The revision, included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, and finally on its way to the President’s desk, will make it so that only convictions while a student is enrolled in college will disqualify them from receiving aid. This means that all of those people who had brushes with the law before going to college will be allowed to move on with their lives, get financial aid, and an education.
“After years of political posturing and empty promises, Congress has finally helped some students harmed by this misguided policy,” said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. “But this minor change is just a ploy to sweep the penalty’s problems under the rug. Tens of thousands of students will still be pulled out of school every year because politicians failed to listen to our concerns. The only option students have left is to take action in court.”
After years of grassroots activism, including SSDP’s former President confronting the
asshole Representative who started it all in his home district ( ), the reform movement has a small victory for freedom. (more videos in the ) The next step is getting the provision removed completely, as the congressionally-created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance recommended in 2005.
Hat Tip: DARE Generation Diary