One of the more life-ruining ways the drug war impacts young people is through a Higher Education Act provision that denies college aid to students with drug convictions. Even first-time pot possession can disqualify a student from receiving federal help.
Today, senators from across the aisle are pushing legislation that would remove questions about drug use from financial aid forms. Introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the bill would effectively nullify a policy that has denied thousands of college kids federal grants and loans.
“A youthful mistake shouldn’t keep a person out of college and the middle class,” Sen. Casey tells The Huffington Post.
Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), explains why depriving young people of the opportunity to go to college is not exactly the best way to deter problematic drug use.
“Blocking access to education simply doesn’t reduce drug problems,” she says. “Education and job opportunities are among our best tools to fight the individual and community-level impacts of drug misuse, so student advocates, civil rights leaders and higher education officials have been pushing to repeal this senseless penalty for almost two decades.”