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This Law Flunks the Test

August 4, 2008
by Gary Enos
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Supporters of a balanced approach to the drug war point to many laws that they say reinforce stigma against the addict. One traditional target has been the disparity in sentencing for offenses involving crack vs. powder cocaine. Another has been the federal measure barring college students with drug convictions from receiving federal aid. Opponents of the financial aid elimination penalty suffered another loss last week in their attempt to overturn the ban. After an appellate court in April upheld a prior ruling that rejected an attempt to overturn the law on Fifth Amendment grounds, Congress did not vote to repeal the aid elimination penalty as part of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. "The failure to address this fundamentally ineffective and unfair penalty will mean that many more students will see the doors of educational opportunity and the promise of a better life closed to them," said Graham Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project. Ironically, some campuses are finding it possible to integrate recovery-focused activity into the college life of students who need support. Sixteen college programs, some with their own group housing element, are now part of the Association of Recovery Schools, which also represents high schools designed for youths in recovery. It might be time to reassess whether the get-tough stance of the aid elimination penalty serves a legitimate purpose.

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Gary Enos

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Gary Enos

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Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He...