Drug War Briefs: Drug War vs. College Funding

August 28- The Kentucky Post reports: Kentucky's prison budget ballooned dramatically over the past two decades and grew five times faster than state higher education spending, a new study concludes. Meanwhile, there are almost as many African-American men in prison in Kentucky as there are enrolled in the state's colleges and universities, the report says.

"This report underlines the sad reality that the nation's colleges and universities have lost budget battles to the growing prison system," said Vincent Schiraldi, one of the report's authors and president of The Justice Policy Institute, a Washington think tank pushing for criminal and juvenile justice reform.

Kentucky's growing corrections budget is part of a national trend. State corrections spending began to outpace higher education spending in the 1980s as policymakers responded to public concerns about crime by allocating more resources to house and incarcerate a larger prison population.

Across the country, state spending on corrections grew at six times the rate of higher education spending between 1985 and 2000, the report says.

But as corrections assumed a larger share of state spending, the burden for paying for college shifted to students, with tuition and other higher education fees rising at eight times the rate of state support.

In Kentucky, higher education spending increased by 33 percent, or $227 million, between 1985 and 2000, while corrections spending skyrocketed by 164 percent, or $210 million.

August 29- St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports: A state senator with lung cancer said Tuesday he supports the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes after witnessing firsthand the suffering of other cancer patients.

"I think that marijuana should be legalized for health reasons, and I think it works, and it's a proven fact that it works," Sen. Ronnie DePasco, D-Kansas City, said in an interview on his first day back at the Capitol. He missed the last month of the session to receive treatment for his cancer.

DePasco, who was elected to the Senate in 1992 after 16 years in the House, said he would file legislation to legalize the medical use of marijuana in Missouri.

August 30- Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader reports: The federal drug office director is urging schools to help, not just expel, students who use drugs.

Guidelines in a report released today by the Office of National Drug Control Policy urge treatment and counseling for drug-using high schoolers rather than simple expulsion or suspension.

The advice challenges policies in many districts to automatically suspend or expel students caught with drugs.

Kathleen Lyons, spokeswoman for the National Education Association, said her group would back the new guidelines.

"That's what we would endorse, helping kids, not simply punishing them," she said. "It doesn't do anybody any good just to take a drug test and kick the kid out of school; where's he going to go? It doesn't solve anyone's problem and may in fact worsen it."

September 2- The Tacoma News Tribune reports: Steve Kubby, the medical marijuana advocate who ran for governor of California as a Libertarian in 1998, has been granted the right to smoke and grow huge quantities of pot for medical purposes in Canada.

Kubby, who fled with his family to Sechelt on British Columbia's southern coast to avoid a jail term in California, said he is "cleaning out our garage to start growing."

"The Americans would do well to come up to Canada and see how the Canadians are doing this," Kubby, 56, told the Province newspaper in Vancouver after receiving his exemption Thursday.

His lawyer, John Conroy, said he believes Kubby is the first U.S. citizen to be granted one of the approximately 800 exemptions that have been issued by Health Canada since 1999.

Kubby's permit allows him to grow 59 marijuana plants at a time for medical use, store up to 2,655 grams of the drug and carry up to 360 grams.

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