Our nation's drug laws doubly punish students with drug convictions who receive financial aid. After navigating the criminal justice system, these young people then face an enormous barrier to moving forward with their education. Federal grant and loan programs established in 1968 by the Higher Education Act assist millions of students each year that would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college. In 1998, Congress passed an amendment authored by Rep. Mark Souder that denies federal financial aid to any student with a drug conviction, so that one brush with the law can permanently destroy a student's prospects for a successful future. Additionally, the law creates an unfair environment where a drug conviction for an economically disadvantaged student carries much more serious consequences than a drug conviction for a student who does not receive financial aid. The Drug Policy Alliance is working to repeal the Souder amendment so that students with drug convictions can access the financial aid that could mean the difference between continuing their education and not.
Legislators appreciate hearing from their constituents, and they are elected to represent our views. Always give your legislator your name, address, and telephone number so that they know you are one of their constituents. Be sure to include this information whether you visit in person, call, or write.
When you contact your legislators, a short sentence or two about why you personally support or oppose a certain proposal is fine.
Most importantly, always be courteous and clear when communicating with your legislators. Remember, legislators are people, too!
SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive drug war policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.
As students, many of us are frustrated with drug education scare tactics full of exaggerations and inaccuracies. We want drug education that is credible and encourages critical questioning.
We have seen too many of our classmates and friends cast out of the school community under zero-tolerance policies that ignore the welfare of people who need help.
Number of people arrested for marijuana law violations in 2012.