Friday, November 03, 2006

Medical Marijuana Shirts Confiscated at SD High-School

Thanks to Pete @ Drug War Rant for this one.
South Dakota: Two Steven High School seniors who wore t-shirts to school advocating the passage of Initiated Measure 4, the medical marijuana ballot issue, SAY their rights to political free speech were violated when the school principal confiscated the shirts, which were decorated with the image of a marijuana leaf. Get the story here.
David Valenzuela, 17, and Chris Fuentes, 18, were told by a Stevens security guard to remove the shirts as they entered their first period class Oct. 20. Principal Katie Bray confiscated the shirts a short time later.

Rapid City superintendent of schools Peter Wharton said Thursday the incident was a violation of school policy, not political rights. School policy forbids clothing that displays images of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products on school grounds.

This fall, numerous SHS students have worn t-shirts with an image of a human fetus and the message “Save a Life, Vote Yes on Referred Law 6.” “We had been seeing all these abortion shirts at school, and we thought, OK, I guess we can get political,” Valenzuela said of his decision to wear the shirt to school. Valenzuela’s green, tie-dyed shirt features a white, stylized image of a marijuana leaf, along with the hand-lettered message, “Vote Yes on Initiated Measure 4.”

Valenzuela and Fuentes say they will take Wharton up on his invitation to continue their medical marijuana t-shirt campaign, sans image, in the days leading up to Tuesday’s election.
In my high school the same thing would have happened. However, I think that if the shirts had siad "Vote No on Initiated Measuere 4" and had an image of a pot leaf with a big red "X" over it, there would not have been an issue (just my opinion). The same could be said for anti-tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs put on a T-shirt.

Still there needs to be the argument of why not allow students to wear a shirt that is clearly not supporting the use of marijuana in general, but instead a specific ballot issue? This is a way to get students involved in the political process and if anything they should be applauded for their efforts. Besides, a hemp leaf is always nicer to look at than a fetus. ( Not just my opinion).

But hey, look at the bright side, maybe this school just helped us get two more SSDP members!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

UMD Resolution Fails in RHA

The UMD SSDP chapter is hard at work again. This time helping to bring a resolution to reduce marijuana penalties on campus. Unfortunately the resolution was not passed but I can't see how that would slow down this SSDP chapter.
Under the current policy, first-time offenders are hit with an automatic suspension, loss of on-campus housing and a mandatory two-year enrollment in a substance-abuse prevention program.

Under the RHA's proposed changes, authored by RHA Vice President Sumner Handy, these students would have only received a citation and a warning. Additionally, Resident Assistants would no longer be trained to call police in the event that they suspected use or possession of the drug.

Lockwood said despite the results of last spring's referendum - a public opinion poll in which 65 percent of 4,376 participants voted in favor of reducing discipline imposed on marijuana users - the RHA lacked credible evidence to show student support of the resolution.

The SSDP proposal, which will appear before the University Senate before the end of the semester, aims to change the wording in the Code of Student Conduct where the first-time possession of the drug is currently listed as an "aggravated offense," lumping it with other penalties that include hate crimes, arson and sexual assault.
Possession of marijuana is an "aggravated offense?" Thats news to me. Whats aggravating is that students are unfairly punished and have their academics negatively impacted in a way that marijuana use alone could never achieve. Stacia Cosner and friends rock.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The ball is in Congress's court - Act now!

I'm outraged to announce that on Friday, a federal judge granted the Bush administration's motion to dismiss Students for Sensible Drug Policy's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law that strips financial aid from college students with drug convictions.

Now, more than ever, it's time to pressure Congress to do its job and overturn the unfair and harmful penalty that has prevented nearly 200,000 would-be students from getting their lives back on track. We've made it easy for you to send a message to your legislators with just a few clicks.

Even though the judge didn't rule that the penalty is unconstitutional, he did agree with us that it "results in some inequality." For now, the ball is in Congress's court.

While it's unfortunate that students harmed by this penalty won't yet have our day in court, we will soon be heard in the halls of Congress. On November 17, hundreds of SSDP members will take our concerns directly to lawmakers' doorsteps when we gather in Washington, DC for our national lobby day and conference. To follow up on the letters you send, we'll be asking members of Congress to support H.R. 1184, the Removing Impediments to Students' Education (RISE) Act, which already has 71 co-sponsors and would overturn the harmful penalty.

We're currently consulting with our dedicated attorneys at the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and will decide shortly if we'll be appealing the ruling. You can find out more about the lawsuit here.

In the meantime, please contact your legislators today and tell them to do the right thing by repealing this penalty.


Heres what Laura A. Green, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Forum of Kansas had to say about SSDP in an October 27th OpEd in the Fort Hayes State University Paper:
To date, nearly 200,000 students have been denied or had their federal loans, grants and work-study delayed because of the HEA Aid Elimination Penalty.

Until early in 2006, this penalty was applied to any drug conviction a person had received whether or not they were in school when the offense occurred. Due to the efforts of the organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy (, who worked with Congress to scale back the law, now only people who are convicted while in college and receiving financial aid can have their eligibility taken away.

Fortunately, there are students who are continuing to educate fellow students and challenge the government’s drug control policies. Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) argue “statistics and common sense tell us it doesn’t make sense to pull students out of school if we want to reduce drug abuse and encourage young people to become successful citizens. The Aid Elimination Policy of the Higher Education Act obstructs the path to education. It perverts the Act’s important, noble intentions.”

I urge students to get involved in SSDP — an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing their generation and our society.

Thanks for letting students know what SSDP is all about. Hopefully this letter, titled Students for Sensible Drug Policy Wanted, will spark the formation of a new SSDP Chapter at Fort Hayes State University.