Friday, June 22, 2007

You know you're a student drug policy activist when...

What with SSDP being generally victorious (see: previous three posts) this past week, it is time for another triumphant episode of YKYaSDPAW! (That is one hell of an acronym.)

Previous episode: #1-10

You know you're a student drug policy activist when:

  • You can easily draw one or two degrees of separation between drug policy reform and any of the other causes you support: Environment. Gay rights. Women’s rights. Worker's rights. Minority rights. Students' rights!! Health care reform. Prison reform. Foreign policy. Religious values. Readysetgo.
  • Cops support legalizing drugs. You have asked them why.
  • If it ever occurs to you that you haven’t shouted “Bullshit!” at an inanimate object for a while and you’d rather like to, you just visit an anti-drug propaganda website or review the statements made by politicians attempting to be tough on drugs.
  • You have donated to SSDP.
  • Your facebook and myspace are cluttered with drug policy friends, links, events, etc.
  • Your encyclopedic recitation of drug policy information has been a buzz kill when you’re hanging out with your friends.
  • Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy, has kissed you on the hand. (This item is also on the list entitled “You know you win at life when…” I am a proud and somewhat flabbergasted winner.) Also, you have read a book that features a nude photo of Daniel E. Williams on the cover.
  • You forward action alerts widely. It’s not obnoxious, it’s freedom fighting! It’ll only take 30 seconds of your time, and it makes a big difference!
  • You’ve probably taken at least a total of 60 minutes of your time just telling people things will only take 30 seconds of their time. Rest assured it makes a big difference.
  • Speaking of taking 30 seconds of your time, you've taken 30 seconds of your time to email your congressmen about repealing the aid elimination penalty.

Well, that wraps up today's episode. Tune in next time for... um... you know, more of the same, but slightly different. It'll be keen.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Law Now Permanent!

Rhode Island has proven itself to be one of the most successful states to pass a medical marijuana bill in the country, despite many obstacles. With Governor Donald Carcieri vetoing the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act not once but twice, the RI House of Representatives voted 58-11 to override the Governor's veto (making him look pretty silly) and make the law permanent. Rhode Island reps have really done a great deal for their constituents and listened to a Mason-Dixon poll from last September that found that 79% of Rhode Islanders support the medical marijuana program.

RI Patient and MPP's 2006 Activist of the Year Rhonda O'Donnel had this to say:
"Our legislature has stood with the scientific and medical community to ensure that I and hundreds of other seriously ill Rhode Islanders don't have to live in fear," said Rhonda O'Donnell, R.N., a multiple sclerosis patient who was the first to sign up for Rhode Island's program. "But the job won't be finished until every patient in every state who needs medical marijuana has complete protection. It's time for every state legislature and the U.S. Congress to change cruel and unscientific laws that criminalize the sick."
Without the Rhode Island Patients Advocacy Coalition (RIPAC) and MPP this law would not have made such great progress and most importantly RI patients would have no where to turn for help. Please consider making a donation to RIPAC to ensure that this progress does not stop!

As a RI native and a current RIPAC intern, I cannot explain how happy I am to see this become a permanent law and to witness firsthand that if you work hard enough your representatives will listen to you! No Rhode Islander knows this better than RIPAC Executive Director Jesse Stout (who also happens to be High Times "Freedom Fighter of the Month") ! Congratulations Jesse, RIPAC, and all the RI medical marijuana patients that will benefit from tonights vote!

SSDP in the news, eh?

So, long story short: 15-year-old Kieran King of Wawota, Saskatchewan got in trouble for researching the harms of marijuana and sharing his findings that it is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco. The principal threatened to call the police if he talked about marijuana again. In response, he organized a walk-out protest for free speech, and the principal retaliated by suspending anyone who participated in the protest - namely, King and his brother. Tara Lyons, chair of the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, gives the school a piece of her sensible mind:
"Mr. King was threatened with police action for voicing an opinion that is well established in fact and science: that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco," Lyons said.

"When he staged a walkout to defend his right to freedom of speech he was suspended, causing him to miss his final exams. Canadians ought to be outraged at the treatment this student has received for voicing an opinion."
The full article can be read here.

King, by the way, does not happen to be a marijuana user. I spoke to a girl around his age today, and she knocked my socks off by telling me she did a 23-page research paper on why marijuana should be legalized. Her peers falsely assumed that she had become a marijuana user simply because she'd decided to use her awesome brainpowers to take a sensible stance on the subject of legalization. Teachers and administrators should take pride in such self-motivated students, and people in general should realize that support isn't the same thing as participation or identity (not every gay rights activist is LGBT, not every pro-choice advocate has had an abortion or is even sexually active, not every feminist is female, and not every environmentalist is a polar bear -duh).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SSDP scores a huge victory for students

Over the past two months Students for Sensible Drug Policy has asked supporters like you to send letters to senators on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee urging them to repeal the law that denies federal financial aid for college to students with drug convictions. To date you have generated thousands of letters, and senators are listening!

This morning the HELP Committee approved the Higher Education Access Act of 2007 with language that expressly prohibits the Department of Education from asking students about drug convictions as a condition of receiving financial aid!

This is a huge step toward erasing the penalty from the lawbooks altogether, but there is still work to be done. The full Senate still has to approve the bill without changes, and the House will take it up later this summer. Please consider visiting and making a generous financial contribution to SSDP today to support our efforts to restore financial aid eligibility to students with drug convictions.

This year marks the first time Congress will reauthorize the Higher Education Act since the Aid Elimination Penalty was added in 1998, and it likely will not be dealt with again for another five to seven years. If we are going to convince Congress to fully repeal the penalty, we really have to turn the heat up this summer. I hope you will support our efforts at this critical juncture by making a donation at

In addition to making generous monetary contributions, we also need supporters like you to continue urging your legislators in Washington, D.C. to take action. The full Senate will vote on the bill at some point this summer. The House is expected to consider HEA reauthorization later in the year, and inside sources tell us that the House version is likely to include language fully repealing the penalty. However, decision makers need to hear a strong message of support from constituents like you in order to fight off potential unfriendly amendments from the likes of Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), the author of the original penalty. If you have not done so already, please enter your e-mail address below (and your other info on the following screen) to send a pre-written letter to your members of Congress.

Email Address:

After a nine-year campaign to repeal the HEA Aid Elimination Penalty, we are closer than ever to victory. Your contribution will help make it happen.

Thank you for all of your help.

Kris Krane
Executive Director

This just in from the ONDCP

Early Marijuana Use a Warning Sign for Later Gang Involvement: New Report Shows Teens Who Use Drugs Are More Likely to Engage in Violent and Delinquent Behavior

... The hell?
"It is time -- in fact, it is past time -- for us to let go of 60's-era perceptions about marijuana," said ONDCP Director John Walters. "Today's research shows what too many families and communities have had to learn through painful experience: Drug use by teenagers isn't a 'lifestyle choice' or an act of 'personal expression;' it is a public health, and, increasingly, a public safety dilemma."
full article...
All right, sing it with me: "Creeping like a communist, it's knocking at our doors/Turning all our children into hooligans and whores/Voraciously devouring the way things are today/Savagely deflowering the good ol' U.S.A.
(chorus) It's Reefer Madness, Reefer Madness/(Reefer Madness, Reefer Madness)/Oh so mad!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Drug Misinformation Mad Libs

You know, there's a lot of misinformation about drugs floating around, much of which is based on myths that have since been refuted. Yet we've all "learned" these myths as facts, even though experience and/or scientific studies have proven contrary to what we've been told...

Anyway, I, for one, think the world could use more bullshit. Therefore, I have written up a Drug Misinformation Mad Lib. Have your friends (or you) come up with words to fill in the blanks, then complete the paragraph below with the words they come up with. Use the resulting paragraph to see how many people you can "educate"!

1. adjective: ______
2. plural noun: ________
3. adjective: _______
4. nonsense word: ______
5. plural noun: ______
6.. verb ending in -ing: _______
7. adjective: _______
8. noun: _____
9. nonsense word: _____
10. name of a plant: _____
11. verb ending in -ed: _____
12. adverb: _____
13. noun: _____
14. adjective: _____
15. an emotion: ______
16. location: _____
17. undesirable occurrence: _____
18. number: ____
19. verb ending in -ing: ____
20. adverb: _____
21. adjective: _____
22. verb ending in -ing: ____
23. verb: ____
24. noun: ____

Drugs are a (1._____ ) problem in our (2. ______ ). Some of the most (3. ______ ) drugs are marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, and (4. _____). Recently, more and more young (5. _____) have been (6. _____) (7.______) drugs that are only legal when recommended by a (8. _____).
Marijuana, or (9._____), comes from the plant (10. _____) and is smoked or (11. _____). Cocaine is a (12. _____) addictive drug. It is sold as (13. _____), or in a (14. _____) form called crack. MDMA, or (15. _____), is most often used at (16. _____) and has resulted in the (17. _____) of (18. ____) people this year. Among the dangers of (4.____) is the user's tendency of (19. _____) (20. ____). It is very easy to become (21. ____) when using (4. ____). If you or a friend begin (22. ____) drugs, you should (23. _____) the nearest (24. _____) as soon as possible.

If you actually do this, post it as a comment so we can all chuckle. If you don't actually do this... you're missing out, man.

Monday, June 18, 2007


So after I burst out laughing in the middle of a very quiet coffee shop in Newport, RI, I decided to post this hilarious new clip from the DPA. Incarecerex can help those politicians suffering from Chronic Re-Election Paranoia (CREEP). Without it, many politicians would be out of office and millions of dollars a year would be saved.

Check out more on Incarcerex. This should really be put on television.

Spray bottles.

What do you think of when you read the words "spray bottles", "war on drugs", and "students" in the same news story? I only ask because when I read the words, this heavy dread settled in my stomach. I imagined school administrators going around hallways with water bottles, squirting suspicious looking students.

Faculty member: NO! (squirt) No drugs! Bad boy! Drugs are BAD! (squirt)
Student: AHH what the hell?!
FM: (squirt, squirt) No swearing at faculty members!
Student: Jesus Christ! Okay, I'm sorry, but what's with the spray?
(Then, if it's a religious school, FM squirts Student for using the Lord's name in vain.)

FORTUNATELY, things are not so bad as I imagined. The spray bottles in question are actually being used to detect drugs, not discipline drug users. From Reidsville, NC:
Rockingham County schools last week tested a new aerosol technology that detects drug residue. The technology will be used in the schools this fall.
Okiedoke! So how does it work?
A federal grant is paying for the aerosol system, which uses a variety of sprays that react to narcotic particles as small as 1 microgram. Testing involves wiping an area of suspected drug residue and spraying it with the drug-detecting agent. The pad will change color depending on the type of substance that is found... The testing can be done on students' personal items, such as like book bags, pencils, door handles, keys or cell phones.
I see. Which brings me to the question, how does it not work? According to the article,
  • It works best with marijuana. So the effectiveness of detection seems inversely proportional to the harm caused by the drug detected. Bravo.
  • The tests cannot stand as evidence in court, only as a probable cause for searches. But, even if students are in a visibly altered state, administrators can do nothing except call parents. So... wait, when is it actually necessary to use the stuff?
  • Administrators can only take action when a student is caught with narcotics, or when another student alerts administrators. Well, that takes care of the invasion of privacy issue a little. But then, if they already see that the student has narcotics, then what's the point of the spray? Also,
  • Secondary transmissions and false positives will be a concern, so initial positive results will not be considered seriously. That... comes so close to making sense. I mean, at least they realize false positives are going to be an issue. The director of Safety and Drug-Free Schools for the county even says, "Just because a kid has residue on his hands doesn't mean he's ingested a drug." So what you're saying is... the tests might prove that a student may or may not have deliberately been in contact with something that could have been, but wasn't necessarily, an illegal drug. Finally,
  • The test pads will need to be carefully compared to a color chart before determining if residue is present. Doors, handles and other surfaces need to be wiped and then cleaned consistently to monitor drug presence. Disinfectants and cleaners may also cause false positives, but such chemicals are listed in an operational handbook. Colorblind administrators and slackoff janitors may further complicate the drug detection process. Those who like to get a buzz off cleaning products will be happy, though.
Did anybody do a cost-benefit analysis for this stuff? Maybe they figure the psychological effect of having this policy will deter students from using drugs because they can see that the administration is bent on preventing drug use to the point of insanity. Maybe not. At least they get to keep their hair and their pee.