Colleges need stoners. With cannabis becoming a many, many billion dollar a year industry in this country alone, having a couple rich weed moguls on their alumni sheet is going to come in handy for these schools a few years down the line. Plus all that THC in their brains have been known to inspire a revelation or two in the arts and sciences.
Of course, that’s not why three U.S. Senators are currently pushing a duel-partisan bill to end financial aid restrictions for students who have been convicted of drug possession, as reported by Extract. It’s because financial aid restrictions for students who have been convicted of drug possession are bullshit.
A statement from the bill’s co-authors, Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), explains that the legislation would “ensure students from low-income and minority backgrounds are not discriminated against in the federal financial aid process,” and “prevent collateral consequences from inhibiting student pathways to the middle class.”
The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success (SUCCESS) Act aims to alter the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by removing the question that asks students if they’ve ever been convicted of a drug-related offense.
If students answer “yes” to that question, they must complete additional forms which are often confusing and which make receiving financial aid much more difficult. If a student who is currently receiving financial aid is convicted of a drug crime, the student must endure expensive drug rehab classes and/or take random drug tests.
If students aren’t able to pay for these classes, according to Extract, they’ll be unable to receive financial aid and possibly have to drop out of school. Since rich kids with drug convictions don’t depend on financial aid in the first place, these drug offense stipulations only widen the class and culture gap in American society.
“Blocking access to education simply doesn’t reduce drug problems,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), said in a news release. ”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.”
“The drug war as a whole is an abysmal failure that causes so many harms to so many communities, and removing college financial aid from the battlefield is a good start. But many more fundamental changes to our nation’s drug policies are still going to be needed even if this bill is enacted,” she said.