Saturday, November 05, 2005

Casualties of Drug War

It's all-too-often that innocent people get caught up in the Drug War. Such was the case last month at Oberlin College in Ohio.

In an unprecedented show of force by law enforcement of Oberlin’s campus, at 5 p.m. on Oct. 19, approximately 30 members of the Lorain County Drug Task Force, assisted by DEA agents and Safety and Security officers, entered North and searched two rooms in response to a tip that two students were operating a methamphetamine lab.

One of the students involved described what the agents were wearing as “full body armor.”

“It was basically a military raid,” the student said. He emphasized the frightening nature of the raid, calling it “terrifying” and “disconcerting.”

“It violated privacy and made kids feel unsafe and confused during exam week,” he said. The student was returning from a chemistry lab when federal agents accosted him.

While one of the students was caught with a bag of marijuana, no evidence of a meth lab was found.

I wonder what would happen if people connected to the Drug War - like complicit politicians, crusading cops, and drug testing profiteers - had their home raided by drug war storm troopers just because someone called in an anonymous tip based on no credible evidence. Maybe if some of them had their homes ransacked, they'd be less likely to support policies that allow it to happen to other people. Not that I recommend anyone make such phone calls...

By the way, the photo above is from the actual raided dorm room. Send a letter to the editor of the Oberlin Review at

Get up. Stand up. Stand up for your rights.

Watch out folks… there's a deadly epidemic sweeping our country.

It's not mad-cow disease. Or avian flu.

No... this disease is a kind of malignant amnesia, whose onset is marked by the loss of historic memory, and as it digs deeper and eats away at the ideological fiber of our country, it sets its sights on the core American values of basic freedoms and civil rights. The diseased become so affected that they entirely forget what it once meant to be American, and their sense of false-patriotism becomes a tumor that blinds, deafens, and makes dumb.

And as I found out last month, even universities are susceptible to infection.

On October 12, 2005, the University of Rhode Island—my university—passed its own version of the USA PATRIOT Act. Among other things, the new rules allow the university to punish students for what they do off-campus, and allow Residence Hall Directors to search dorm rooms without evidence, prior notice, or consent.

A student’s home is no longer his/her castle at URI, on or off-campus. In fact, the rules even state that a “towel under the door” or a “fan on in the room” warrant sufficient evidence to conduct a search (it isn’t yet clear if the intent is to target marijuana users or messy people who enjoy fresh air). The new off-campus jurisdiction isn’t limited to felonies either. ANY violation of law off-campus (including speeding-tickets, jaywalking, and of course, small drug crimes) can potentially bring a student before the campus judicial system.

The week that these changes were enacted, the URI Student Rights Coalition was formed. Spearheaded by members of URI Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the coalition mobilized hundreds of students, and marched on URI President Robert Carothers’s office, demanding that he repeal this draconian attack on civil liberties. Our voices were heard around the country (garnering coverage in USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among others). The protest was easily the largest demonstration at URI since the Vietnam War, and was organized by a diverse coalition of about 20 student organizations.

The success of our campaign has been tremendous. Whereas the administration had previously ignored our concerns, they are now paying close attention to what we have to say. Members of the Rights Campaign have been meeting with the administration on a weekly basis, and President Carothers has even publicly urged the faculty senate to form a committee of faculty and students to rework these rules.

Such is the power of grassroots organizing and media outreach. And that power is needed now more than ever, because, as I found out recently, URI is not the first university to enact these kinds of policies. In fact, we are one of the last to make the shift.

It’s not too late to change the policies on your campus. People have been asking me: “Why haven’t students at other universities spoken out against these rules?”.

My answer? “The DARE Generation is just now getting organized.”

Friday, November 04, 2005

Truth or D.A.R.E.?

This is from yesterday's Boston Herald. As if we needed more proof of D.A.R.E.'s failure "To Keep Kids Off Drugs".

My question is, who tipped off the school officials? Someone should get this poor little girl a t-shirt.

An 11-year-old graduate of Norwood’s DARE program has been caught with pot at school.
Police said the girl, who is not being identified, had “a small amount” of marijuana in her locker.
Police Officer Richard Giacoppo, the resource officer at the middle school, said the presence of drugs is an unfortunate reality in schools today, but admitted Monday’s incident “was really unusual for that age group.”
Police said school officials acted on a tip and went looking for the pot. The girl was not arrested but will be summoned to juvenile court.
Giacoppo declined specific comment on the 11-year-old caught by the school, but said she had graduated from the school’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
This is my first blog post ever, kids! I'm already hooked. We might have to become Students for Sensible Blogging Policy. This is so addictive, it should be Schedule I. Someone tell HHS!

Appendix: I don't think 11 year olds should have pot or any other drugs in school. And it should go without saying that SSDP does not support children that young using drugs recreationally. Finally, I am glad this girl was not arrested and is heading to juvenile court instead of municipal or criminal court. But snitching is wrong -- unless people are in danger.

Under the Influence of Propaganda

The White House Drug Czar's office is launching a new series of anti-drug ads, aimed at keeping teens "above the influence," rather than under the influence, of drugs.

One ridiculous example:
In one of the new Above the Influence TV spots, a boy through an interpreter tells teens that he's an idiot for allowing his friends to dupe him into smoking marijuana and accepting a dare that led to his fist being stuck in his mouth.
That's almost as priceless as the ad that says marijuana causes teens to construct hats out of ground beef, attempt to e-mail Uranus, and hear their hair grow. Yes, kids, you'd better stay away from drugs or you might end up wearing clothing made out of raw meat and choking on your own body parts.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Drug War "Revealed"

Students in Chestertown, MD are suing their school district over a particularly disturbing police search that took place in the name of the War on Drugs.
The suit stems from an April 2004, lockdown at Kent County High School, where the principal invited the county sheriff's department to search for illegal drugs. During the search, one student said she was forced by a female officer to lift her skirt and expose her underwear. The search did not reveal any contraband, the lawsuit says.
Talk about invasive (and pointless)!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Testing times

Last month the White House Drug Czar's office awarded more than $7 million in grants to fund random student drug testing at more than 350 elementary, middle, and high schools around the country. And so continues the disturbing national trend of pointlessly invading young people's privacy in the name of the failed War on Drugs.

Student drug testing is a bad idea because it simply doesn't work and is needlessly invasive, among several other reasons. The largest study ever conducted on the topic shows that testing has no impact on drug use by young people. Yet, ambitious drug testing firms - some of them owned and operated by former federal drug officials who helped to proliferate the practice - are eagerly selling their products to schools everywhere.

Clearly, our leaders should stop flushing taxpayers' money down the toilet (literally) on programs that do nothing but alienate young people and line the pockets of good ol' boys.

How can this disturbing trend be most effectively combated? Should we offer resources and assistance to local students and parents trying to just say "no" to proposed or existing drug testing programs in their schools? Should we focus on working in Washington, DC to diminish the federal grant funding that is supporting these programs? What other strategies and tactics can we use to stop student drug testing in its tracks?

Delegation to Colombia

It's worthwhile to step back and remember that not only are students in the U.S. in the crosshairs of the Drug War, but that this is a global war. Some of the most afflicted live in Latin America, and are, quite literally, targeted by the Drug War. Perhaps no country has been hit as hard as war-torn Colombia.

Colombia has endured four decades of brutal armed conflict between guerrilla movements, paramilitary forces, and the national army, all of whom violate human rights. Through a program known as "Plan Colombia," the U.S. government has provided Colombia with over $4 billion in military and police aid since 2000 for the War on Drugs. During that time the violence has increased - with nearly one million more people displaced from their homes and thousands of civilians killed every year. Meanwhile, drug production in the Andean region has remained steady. Coca eradication in South America is perhaps one of the greatest injustices that our government has exacted in the name of its citizens.

Which is why SSDP is partnering with Witness for Peace, a Latin American human rights organization, to lead a delegation to Colombia to see first-hand the devastating effects of the Drug War on Colombia. In late August 2006, the delegation will spend approximately 11 days touring afflicted regions of Colombia, meeting with a wide range of experts. Delegates will also gather tools and skills needed to educate U.S. policymakers about the impacts of U.S. policy in Colombia.

This is going to be an important delegation for SSDPers and one that will help us put our activism in a broader perspective. I urge all SSDPers to learn about what's going on in Colombia and the Andean region and to seriously consider participating in this important delegation.

In solidarity.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Help us chip away at the HEA Drug Provision

We have the opportunity to tear away at a major Prohibitionist policy that is blocking access to college.

The HEA Drug Provision has been on the books for seven (7) years, and in that short time it has obstructed more than 175,000 of us from going to college. Blocking access to education for past drug offenses defies commonsense.

Check out our HEA campaign page and contact your representative and senators to let them know that you are watching. Our legislators won't make the right choice unless they hear from us.

Also, if you haven't registered for the SSDP Annual Conference (Nov. 9-12) in Long Beach, CA, you still have time!

In solidarity.

Welcome to the DARE Generation Diary!

DARE Generation Diary provides a forum for members of the DARE Generation - those of us who grew up during the escalation of the War on Drugs - to share our thoughts on punitive policies that negatively impact us. The blog also facilitates discussion about strategies and tactics for eliminating those policies.

For too long, the failed War on Drugs has been waged purportedly to protect young people from the dangers of drug abuse. But we know that these draconian policies actually put us at greater risk. We will not allow this war to be waged in our names any longer.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), is the leading organization working to overturn drug policies that negatively affect youth. To find out how to get invovled, please visit our website at