The coronavirus relief package passed by Congress over the weekend includes a repeal of a ban on federal financial aid for students with convictions for drug offenses that has been on the books for more than 20 years. If signed into law by President Trump, the provision of the massive relief and stimulus package would reverse a policy enacted in 1998 at the height of the nation’s failed War on Drugs.
As part of the nearly 6,000 page, $900 billion bill to address the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress included reforms to the Higher Education Act that have been under consideration for two years. Under the bill, students applying for financial aid would no longer be required to reveal if they have any drug convictions, a policy that has led to the denial of educational assistance for hundreds of thousands of students over the years.
Adam Smith is the founder of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, a group working to gain federal approval for interstate cannabis commerce. He says that the restoration of aid for students with drug convictions is the culmination of 22 years of work by countless people. Smith has been involved in cannabis policy reform