TEXT FROM STUDENTS FOR A SENSIBLE DRUG POLICY

Largely due to the unpopular war in Iraq, the U.S. Military is having trouble meeting its recruiting goals.

To make up for the enlistment shortcomings, the Bush administration has loosened restrictions and is granting more so-called "character waivers" to allow more people with drug convictions to sign up.

Meanwhile, President Bush and some of his friends in Congress support a law that has prevented 200,000 aspiring students from getting the financial aid they need to afford college just because they have drug convictions (most often for misdemeanor marijuana possession).

Of course, young people should be able to serve our country in whatever way they think they best can – whether by going to college and becoming a doctor or a lawyer, or by enlisting in the armed services.

But the "Drug War Draft" created by the Aid Elimination Penalty limits opportunities and forces countless young people out of school and into the military to fight a war they may not agree with. Eerily, the Pentagon-commissioned RAND report Recruiting Youth in the College Market (PDF) states: "The [armed] services might be able to significantly expand their pool of potential recruits by adopting policies that target youth who plan to go to college…"