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Do drug warriors really think parents matter?

Opinion Editorial
November 20, 2006

Author: Mike Krause

“Parents Pivotal In Keeping Teens Away From Drugs Reveals New Data.” No, this is not a headline from the fake newspaper The Onion, but from a February press release from the geniuses at the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

And while it might seem that the federal drug war bureaucracy has suddenly discovered that parents matter, the reality is that over-reaching federal drug policy is also a proxy war against parental rights and responsibilities.

In 2005, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., introduced the “Defending America’s Most Vulnerable: Safe Access to Drug Treatment and Child Protection Act of 2005.” This draconian bill — which was ultimately killed in committee — would have created a two-year mandatory sentence for anyone simply failing, within 24 hours, to notify police of drug activity, including illegal drug use, and provide full assistance investigating, apprehending and prosecuting the offender “in or near the presence” of anyone 18 or younger; in other words, anywhere within a home where teenagers live.

There would also have been a mandatory federal prison term for parents who decide to take action against their teenaged children’s drug use themselves, rather than immediately turning the children over to the police.

In September of this year, the House of Representatives did pass the “Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006.” The act mandates sweeping and intrusive federal search policies for local school districts “if the search is conducted to ensure that classrooms, school buildings, and school property remain free of all weapons, dangerous materials, or illegal narcotics.”

The bill would deny certain federal funds (issued under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) to localities that fail to implement the mandate, thus forcing school districts to choose between parental involvement in search policies and federal dictates.

As for ongoing disregard for parents, last year John Walters, the federal “Drug Czar,” came to Denver to release the 2006 National Drug Control Strategy, which includes federal grants for random (read coerced) student drug testing.

According to ONDCP, “To allow a potentially drug-using student to join activities that the student finds desirable (sports, chorus, band, driving to school, etc.) with no penalty is to disserve that student and to enable his or her entry into drug use.”

So to federal drug war bureaucrats, a “potentially drug-using student” is any student not yet drug tested by the government. This sends a very powerful message to young people — mainly that before you can engage in “desirable activities” you must first prove your purity to the state through the collection and examination of your urine.

Didn’t such decisions once rest with the same parents that ONDCP recently determined were “pivotal” to keeping teens away from drugs?

Actions speak louder than words … and the message that federal drug warriors and their enablers in Congress are sending is that parents are really little more than an impediment to their authoritarian agenda.

First Appeared in the Denver Daily News