The “War On Drugs” is waged on the streets and high seas, everyday. However, due to the skyrocketing number of White heroin addicts in the suburbs, the “War” is being reconsidered. The powers-that-be are considering less heavy-handed tactics when dealing with drug offenders and treating drug abuse as a health issue, as opposed to a criminal one.
Though, less publicized, the “War On Drugs” has extended to the realm of academia. Under current federal law, financial aid for higher education can be denied if a student has been convicted of a drug law violation whilst receiving student aid. On February 11, U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Orrin Hatch introduced legislation that would repeal this law, in a bipartisan effort.
“It’s outrageous that hundreds of thousands of young people have been denied an opportunity at higher education over a drug law violation,” said Drug Policy Alliance deputy director of national affairs Grant Smith “This harms all but the most privileged students, and runs completely counter to the national consensus that drug use should be treated as a health issue. It especially harms communities of color, who are disproportionately targeted for drug law violations, and perpetuates stigma against people who use drugs. This corrosive drug war policy is long overdue for repeal.”
When applying for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA), applicants are asked if they have been convicted on a drug offense while receiving federal student aid. If the answer is “yes,” applicants must fill out a “confusing worksheet” to determine their eligibility. Many are intimidated by the question and/or worksheet and refrain from completing the application. Since this policy’s inception in 2000, more than 200,000 students have been denied financial aid for honestly answering “yes.”