Articles Posted in Student loans

student loan.jpgUnder federal law, a marijuana conviction would automatically bar a student from receiving federal student loans, grants and work assistance. President Barack Obama, along with numerous United States presidents, has admitted using marijuana for recreational purposes. He has also stated that he took advantage of student loans to fund his education which was crucial to his ascension to the presidency. As a younger individual, the president was fortunate enough not to be caught with the substance. However, like millions of Americans, if the president was caught and convicted for possession of a drug classified as a controlled substance, under current law he would have likely lost his eligibility to receive student loans. Such a loss may have stifled his opportunity to receive a Harvard education and would have been detrimental to becoming a United States President. One cannot help but wonder how many Americans, who did not have the good fortune to elude prosecution and conviction, have been deprived of their opportunity to receive a highly beneficial education.
An exceptional opportunity has presented itself to correct this flawed policy of punishing individuals for the use of a substance that is less destructive than alcohol or tobacco. With 18 states and the District of Colombia having legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, 14 states having decriminalized non-medical marijuana in small amounts, and two states having legalized recreational marijuana, the momentum to stimulate substantial drug law reform is nearly unstoppable. Support for change in marijuana policy has also arisen from the medical community as highlighted by the American Medical Association which has called for rescheduling marijuana as a non-Schedule I drug. Further strengthening the push to rethink marijuana use illegality is public opinion in favor of legalization, which according to a Rasmussen Poll has reached 56% in favor of regulation of the substance. Prominent members of the legal community, such as the prolific Judge Richard Posner, have also voiced their support for legalization of the substance. Acclaimed civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU have advocated for marijuana decriminalization to help combat racially disproportionate punishment for illegal drug possession. Social and political conservatism has had a modest but noticeable history of supporting marijuana reform as shown by thinkers like William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater. On almost a regular basis, more contemporary social and political conservatives are coming out in favor of marijuana legalization, such as Pat Robertson and Tom Tancredo.
Recently, Barbara Walters asked the president whether he thinks marijuana should be legalized. His response was that, though he would not go as far as to favor legalization, he does recognize that the voters in Washington and Colorado have spoken on this issue. Moreover, the president noted how nonsensical it would be for the federal government to prosecute individuals in states where the substance is legal. By implying a federal allowance, or at least tolerance, for states that have legalized marijuana, the president has sparked hope in the minds of many proponents of drug law reform that desire a true change in federal policy. Perhaps as a result of reformed federal drug policy, students who have been caught with the substance, which the president once used, will be not be deprived of their opportunity to attain the academic and professional highs that come with an education.
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