The Drug War Exception to the Freedom of Information Act

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In the face of a lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Education has backed down from its insistence that Students for Sensible Drug Policy pay a fee of more than $4,000 for a state-by-state breakdown of data on students denied financial aid because of drug convictions. Under the Freedom of Information Act, such fees are supposed to be waived when the information sought is in the public interest. The Education Department said it wasn't, because SSDP's real goal is to legalize drugs so it can get rich by selling them.

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  1. Even if that were the case, since when is making a profit, in of itself-contrary to the public interest?

  2. Phillip,

    Care to revisit that thought in light of “Kelo?”

  3. Probably easier to get rich by selling them while they are illegal.

  4. The Education Department said it wasn’t, because SSDP’s real goal is to legalize drugs so it can get rich by selling them.

    The state of public education is explained by that one sentence.

  5. Sedated: exactly. You think Capone wanted to repeal prohibition? Plus, once something is legalized, the market becomes saturated—eventually most of the market share becomes taken up by larger companies. The idea that these kids would work so hard to legalize drugs so that they could “get rich” from it is as absurd as claiming that a street hooker wants to legalize prostitution so that they could “get rich” from it.

    Joe: there’s a difference between “in the public interest” (what Conti said) and “for public use” (what the Bill of Rights says).

  6. The Education Department said it wasn’t, because SSDP’s real goal is to legalize drugs so it can get rich by selling them.

    I’ll give the Ed Dept. more credit and accuse them of a smear campaign to descredit the opposition in the eyes of the public. They are taking their que from ONDCP by avoiding addressing the facts, even distorting them, and slinging mud at SSDP. If you don’t have a coherrent argument to rebuff your opponent, spend lots of money to muddy up the picture!

  7. Mendocino was perhaps the only county in California that voted against Medical Marijuana. One guess where most of the marijuana is grown in CA.

  8. I would have guessed neighboring Humboldt County was the largest pot-growing area of CA, but perhaps that was only temporary.

  9. Mendocino was perhaps the only county in California that voted against Medical Marijuana. One guess where most of the marijuana is grown in CA.

  10. Let’s see.

    Here we have data collected by a taxpayer-supported government agency at taxpayer expense. But DoE wants to make taxpayers pay for it again because said taxpayers want to use the information when they exercise their Constitutional right to petition the government.

    <barf>

  11. Care to revisit that thought in light of “Kelo?”

    Care to differentiate between transactions entered into voluntarily and those conducted via the coercive power of the state.

  12. By the way, both Humboldt and Mendocino counties went for Proposition 215, if that’s the one you mean.

  13. Even if that were the case, since when is making a profit, in of itself-contrary to the public interest?

    I think you’ve been clearly answered – whenever it threatens the funding of someone in government.

  14. Joe, …since when is making a profit, in [and] of itself-contrary to the public interest?

  15. I guess I was trying to ask precisely why people assume that profitable entreprises cannot be in the public interest. I think that Molly Irwin the liberal columnist last week said that she would like to see newspapers run as a non-profit guilds or whatever, as if profitable news were somehow tainted. I was trying to trace the historical origins of widespread moral intuitions here that I dont happen to share.

  16. Am I mistaken or is the “War on Drugs” really a war on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I would also like to point out that the only provision that can not be changed in the US Constitution is requirement of equal represention in the US Senate. I would think that almost everything is free game or prehaps I am mistaken. Would not the effects of government poicies and info about the effects of such policies be one of the things Americans should have access to.

  17. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we went into a Bizzarro Universe where the laws of supply and demand don’t hold, so aspiring drug dealers would actually lobby to legalize drugs.

    Let’s just talk about whether or not the the gov’t has to fill FOIA requests from organizations whose members could profit from changes in the law:

    Suppose that the NRA requests data on guns used in crimes, or some other data relating to firearms? No doubt some of their members sell firearms, and would reap greater profits if certain laws were changed.

    Can the FBI, ATF, DOJ, or some similar agency refuse to respond to an FOIA request from the NRA if the subject is firearms?

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