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“Just Say No!” To federal drug money targeting your kids

Opinion Editorial
February 16, 2006

By Mike Krause

So the government can have its war on drugs, Coloradoans have had to suspend miles of skepticism towards the expansion of state power on behalf of Washington D.C.

The latest federal desire is to drug test Colorado school kids in return for federal tax dollars. It is hard to imagine a better opportunity to “just say no” to federal bribes to Colorado in return for doing the federal government’s drug war dirty work.

On February 8, 2006, John Walters, Director of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) came to Denver to release the 2006 National Drug Control Strategy, which includes “more support for random student drug testing.” This support comes in the form of federal “grants” to the states ($7.5 million were released in October 2005 for this purpose).

For those who think the government should stay out of family decision-making, this idea is beyond bad.

According to ONDCP’s drug testing Q&A web page, “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.”

A “potentially drug-using student” is apparently any student not yet drug tested by the government. More to the point, 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.

ONDCP continues that screening for drug use in school also helps prepare students for getting a job, “Students must prepare for being part of a workforce that is increasingly insistent on maintaining a drug free environment.”

In other words, this is just training for the future. Yet drug testing in the workplace, while mostly ineffective (and intrusive), is a private agreement between employer and employee, and at least the testee gets something out of the deal, like a paycheck.
Student drug testing does not teach kids how to be good future employees, or good future citizens, but rather how to be good and obedient subjects of the state.

More than a bad idea, federally funded student drug testing is part of a larger, and disturbing trend where federal tax dollars–for which there is apparently no good federal use–are sent to Denver with troubling strings attached, and Colorado lawmakers go along for the ride.

For instance, in 2005, the U.S. Congress appropriated $60 million over five years to “foster the establishment of State-administered controlled substance monitoring systems…”

So the Colorado Legislature obediently enacted HB 05-1130, which created a prescription controlled substance monitoring system in Colorado that allows the sharing of information about Coloradoans’ prescription drug purchases and usage with, among others, “out of state law enforcement officials.”

In other words, on behalf of the federal government, Colorado lawmakers made it easier for federal drug warriors to pry into the medical privacy of Coloradoans.

Also in 2005, approximately $1.56 million in federal tax dollars were appropriated for the Colorado National Guard’s “Joint Support Operation” program, through which National Guard soldiers support civilian law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado, including “two National Guard OH-58 helicopters that flew over 500 hours in support of numerous sheriff departments’ counter-drug operations.”

In 2004, Colorado received nearly $7 million through the federal Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG). Much of this helped fund the numerous multi-jurisdictional narcotics task forces operating in Colorado.

Policy Analyst David Muhlhausen at the conservative Washington D.C.-based Heritage Foundation notes that these federal grants end up paying officers’ salaries for local drug enforcement “that local communities should be paying for…”

In other words, the drug war as actually fought by the federal government is,, at least partly, a war against the right of Coloradoans to control their own state and local governments.

And now the federal government wants to buy the drug testing of Colorado school children.

Hopefully there are at least some Colorado officials willing to “just say no” the federal government’s latest tax dollar backed intrusion into local governmental and family affairs.

Try it once, and they might actually get addicted to the idea.