How Pot Ruins Your Future


Here's a story, originally from The New York Times, about how "tens of thousands of would-be college students have been denied financial aid because of drug offenses, even though the crimes may have been committed long ago and the sentences already served."

"It is absurd on the face of it," says Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.). He knows what he's talking about: He wrote the goddamned law, which was passed in 1998. "I am an evangelic Christian who believes in repentace," he says, "so why would I have supported that?…Why would any of us in Congress?"

Souder's subsequent Damscus Road experience aside, the short answer to his question is: Because Congress is filled with jackasses.

Whole story here.

Journalism students note: This is a well-wrought story with a memorable anecdotal lede that tells of a girl who got thrown out of her house at age 13 for "declaring herself a lesbian" and then descended into drug abuse. Her inability to get federal financial aid is contrasted with the experience of an ex-con who, "after serving almost 10 years in prison for attempted murder…went straight to college on federal loans and grants."

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  1. There is no problem letting the murderer have federal aid, he was done with that crime. Besides he wasn’t funing terrorists with his behaviour.

    The benefits of the war on drugs:
    1 It gives those brave entrepeneurs in the bad neighborhoods a way to get rich.
    2 It provides the fuel to keep advancements in tactics and technology of law enforcement up to speed.
    3 It gives law enforcement an excuse to go mess with people who are generally unlawful in other things but it is hard to prove.
    4 Doing drugs would not be half as fun if it were legal

  2. It seems to me that the only way that drug use ruins your future is if you get caught. It’s circular reasoning: We have to create stiffer laws against drug use because drugs destroy peoples’ lives. Drugs destroy peoples’ lives because of the stiff penalties for drug use.

    What the…?

  3. Yes, drugs often hurt only if you get caught. But it isn’t just government that needs to change. Bad parental response is perhaps even more to blame for turning casual teen drug use into a *real* problem when it leads to family breakdown, alienation and possible descent into addiction. And of course, in the end, it will always be the drugs that are to blame.

    Drugs have a tendency for bringing underlying problems to the surface, on almost every level (individual consciousness, family and other relations, and the larger society in general). Until the culture matures with respect to a variety of human issues, I can’t see a situation where drugs are not demonized.

  4. I liked the devil’s advocate arguments but they’re all fallacious or otherwise bogus and here are the reasons why:

    1) You are not a “brave entrepreneur” when you involved in strong-arm drug trafficking for dollar values in the thousands and beyond. This is the only way to get “rich” off of drug peddling.

    2) The advancement of law enforcement tactics should not be payed for at the cost of a terrorized citizen. Not even one.

    3) People who are “generally doing unlawful things” are innocent until it can be proven they have broken the law. They deserve to be left the f*ck alone like everybody else does. Since when is it a crime to be white (or black) trash?

    4) Drugs are what you make of them, unlike a lot of other things in life. If you will not enjoy drugs as much once they are legalized then I suggest you cut down or halt your use of them. I haven’t made my decision yet.

  5. theOther,
    in response to your reply;
    1 Strong arm drug trafficing?
    2 The citizens need to toughen up it would seem.
    3 I like to be left alone when I am speeding too. But that isn’t the way it works. Often times when police are enforcing the speeding laws they catch real criminals (I think they mostly catch drug trafficers)
    4 If drugs stay illegal a little while longer, you will have a little more time to make your decision.

  6. Warren, I did not even suggest the government get involved at all, I did not even allude to it.

    Society is what makes people second-class citizens. Society is made up of parents, peers, and since you mentioned it, public servants. We live in a cruel, intolerant, puritanical society. There is plenty of evidence to support this — the recent law passed by congress to fine media companies for transmitting “obscenities” is the most recent.

    Thank you, Dingel, for your support.

    I am not going to be a part of this discussion, as I do not think I could be polite about it and I have no desire to get into an argument with Warren.

  7. When I was in college, I was also denied financial aid. But it was because my parents make too much money.

    If I had also been arrested for a drug charge, would the double crime of having two parents who work and drugs warrant the death penalty?

  8. I’ve written my congressmen about this before; they have supported the state of the law without a particularly satisfactory answer.

  9. This is as much a condemnation of government involvement in education as it is a consequence of the idiotic WoSD. If all schools were private, and all aid was private, the young lady could find some institution, somewhere, where she could matriculate. The Feds also ban aid to any male who refuses to register with Selective Service.

    “Who takes the King’s shilling must do the King’s bidding” is an old proverb, and useful in a so-called Republic, with some modification.

    Hey, George Soros! If you would like to ameliorate one of the bad effects of the WoSD, why not endow some scholarships for ex-offenders who can’t get aid? It would beat trying to replace one crooked pol with another crooked pol.


  10. WoSD == War on Some Drugs
    An apt name if I ever heard one.
    I wish they’d pass laws outlawing watching TV for more than 4 hours a day.

  11. “Because Congress is filled with jackasses.”

    You got that right, Nick!
    The sheer gall to first refuse to listen and enact the stupid law anyway and then turn around and claim surprise.
    There ought to be a 10-count statute against stupid politicians and another 20 counts for grandstanding.
    Both local and federal govt would be empty.

  12. Grrr. That makes me so mad. Second-class citizens again. Marriage isn’t the only issue where we are treated like garbage.

  13. The big lie is that pot (or any drug) necessarily “ruins” one’s future — or one’s present, for that matter. It’s possible to be a functioning drug user. In fact, I know a tenured, acclaimed, almost insanely productive university professor who’s also a daily pot smoker. Well, actually, he smokes pot at the end of the work day to relax. (FYI, his work day generally starts at 10am and ends around 9pm) If it’s slowed him down any, it seems to be to twice the productivity of the typical non-user.

  14. Ananna,
    This is a drug story not a homo story. Parents who hate their gay kids is not a pressing social problem. It certainly isn’t the result of government oppression, nor does it call for a government response. On the other hand, ‘second-class citizen’ status for drug offenders is an onerous and widespread problem. I would even go as far as saying; the most pressing problem of our time. Further, it is exasperated and perpetuated as a direct result of government policy. This story illustrates the insanity, inhumanity, and injustice inherent in the prosecution of the drug war. It cries out to us with the question: “How much suffering and blatant stupidity must we endure as a nation before we reverse our course on this misguided path.”

  15. “Parents who hate their gay kids is not a pressing social problem”? It’s one thing to say that there’s nothing the government can do about it; it’s another to say that the hatred isn’t a big deal.

  16. Why doesn’t that lesbian girl sue her white-trash mama? Don’t parents have a legal obligation to support their 13-year-old offspring?

    Whoops, off-topic. I guess drugs are so evil, they make you stupid even if you don’t take them.

  17. devils advocate,

    Yeah, a friend of mine (this is a true story) got caught speeding while heading to his grandmother’s funeral. He’s a long-haired hipster, so maybe that’s why the cop said, “Okay, where’s the dope?” and went on harrassing him for quite some time before finally letting him go. And in fact, heh-heh, my friend actually WAS holding. So yeah, he was genuinely terrified. The worst thing was that he might miss the funeral for this.

    Incidentally (or NOT), I’ve never known this friend to break any laws of that other kind, y’know, the kind that involves directly harming someone.

  18. “Journalism students note: This is a well-wrought story…”

    perhaps it makes a good story, but as a news article it’s lacking. important questions like Why did Rep. Souder let a badly written law get passed with his name as sponsor? and Why didn’t he do anything about for five (!) years? are never asked, let alone answered.

    the answer may well be that he wrote the law exactly as he wanted it and kept hoping that the controversy over it would blow away. this article doesn’t indicate that it took five years of effort by organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (which grew from one chapter to 200 between 1998 and 2003) to induce politicians to take notice. i wrote this up in more detail at

  19. Well, that’s nothing to how buying “methyl-ergotamine tartrate” will ruin your future. The feds have set up honey-pot web sites (or are in cahoots with otherwise legitimate chemical merchants) and will bust you hard for just buying the stuff.

    Apparently, despite the words of the CSA, which cites a minimum of one gram of LSD to get Federal prison time, it’s enough just to attempt to buy ergotamine (LSD chemical precursor) on the open market. (This despite it’s common use as a migraine treatment.)

    I know this because a friend of mine was recently emprisoned on exactly this charge: “intent to manufacture LSD [for personal use]”. At the same time they garnisheed his car, and forced him to put up his house for bail. (In fact, he expects to get his personal possessions back, later. But it’s not a sure thing.)

    The minimum sentence he faces, apparently, is 2 years. However, there seems to be an implicit rule of extortion, where you can bargain down your prison time in exchange for protection money.

  20. TM, I don’t think it will work. There was a buzz a few years ago about a C-Span miniseries called “Term Limit.” Supposedly, members of Congress who had served a certain number of terms would be forced to leave the capital, and spend a minimum of two years living under the laws they themselves had passed.

    They gave up on it when not enough congresscritters agreed to go to the casting call. There are local versions out there, though.


  21. “Because Congress in filled with jackasses.”

    I think C-SPAN should have a spin-off from MTV’s “jackass” where immature lawmakers throw all regard for life or limb out the window while trying to pass insane laws without repsect for the subjects of the laws. Oh yeah, they already have that.

  22. If drugs are legalized, you government shrinkers are fooling yourselves if you think you won’t have to pay SOMEHOW for the internment, halfway houses, and asylums to house all those burnouts that would be let loose in cities everywhere. And you WOULD pay for it; it would become a civil rights issue.

    “I say legalize all drugs, let them do until they kill themselves.”
    -Howard Stern

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