Saturday, April 22, 2006

Protect kids from rigorous scientific scrutiny!

Even enlightened readers of the New York Times, reading coverage of the FDA's bunk and untimely report that marijuana has no medical benefits whatsoever, are subject to propaganda attempts. Reading online coverage from the two days following pot enthusiasts' holiday, I was bombarded by flashy pop-ups enticing me to pick the attractive teen who is most susceptible to drugs (who would have known? they are all "high-risk.") Right above the simple and clever editorial is a banner with bright green pot leaves claiming that if I click it I will get the "straight facts on marijuana." For my kids, that is, and from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Attempts at manipulation of the real issue aside, the New York Times has run three pieces on the FDA report in the past two days. A spokeswoman for the FDA seems to mistake "legalization efforts" with "scientific research" when she says, "state initiatives that legalize marijuana use are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the F.D.A. approval process.' It sure takes some Ministry of Truth-sized balls to claim that the FDA values "rigorous scientific scrutiny."

Today's editoral is eloquntly and simply written:
Ordinarily, when the F.D.A. addresses a thorny issue, it convenes a panel of experts who wade through the latest evidence and then render an opinion as to whether a substance is safe and effective to use. This time the agency simply issued a skimpy one-page statement asserting that "no sound scientific studies" supported the medical use of marijuana.

That seems disingenuous. The government is actively discouraging relevant research, according to scientists quoted by Gardiner Harris in yesterday's Times. It's obviously easier and safer to issue a brief, dismissive statement than to back research that might undermine the administration's inflexible opposition to the medical use of marijuana.

...especially when you're still trying to convince parents that marijuana is the gravest danger to their child's development. The government may try to miseducate a malleable youth population, but when even articles in the New York Times have to be overshadowed by flashy propoganda, the "dumbing down" is more than a little insulting.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

How is your state hurt by the Aid Elimination Penalty?

Students for Sensible Drug Policy's Freedom of Information Act dispute with the U.S. Department of Education has finally paid off. Once we sued them over the ridiculous $4,000 fee they wanted to charge us, the government quickly gave up and handed over numbers on how many students in every state have lost financial aid due to drug convictions.

Read SSDP's state-by-state report to find out how the Higher Education Act (HEA) Aid Elimination Penalty is impacting your state.

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USA Today printed an article about SSDP's state-by-state report on page A3 this morning. SSDP and ACLU are quoted.

"I think it's important that all members (of Congress) know exactly how many of their constituents' lives have been ruined by this policy," says Tom Angell, campaigns director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the constitutionality of the law in federal court. "This is the only offense for which one can be denied financial aid," says attorney Adam Wolf of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project based in Santa Cruz, Calif.

If you can afford it, please make a donation to SSDP's efforts on behalf of students.