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When I began this week's cover story, I never figured I'd be mistaken for a drug dealer. But when a cop approached me with his hand on his holster three weeks ago, it gave me plenty to contemplate; in particular, a feeling of being marked "guilty until proven innocent."

It was because I own a certain color car, and was parked in a certain restaurant's lot, that a Colorado Springs police officer acted on an anonymous tip and asked me for my license, then scoped out my vehicle's interior. There were two other red cars nearby, but mine was the only one to attract the officer.

I had to laugh; after all, I was working on a story about drugs. But the policeman's accusatory tone still hit hard.

Being randomly selected for school drug testing in many ways seems as off-putting. I can only imagine being 17 again, pulled from my routine, and told to pee in a cup with an escort listening.

I doubt the threat of drug testing would have led me to make different choices when I was in high school. But then, I was a child who didn't want to disappoint her parents, and I was also privileged to have passions that her family supported.

Those are two of the issues I've learned may be more important — and much less divisive — in the drug war than any test that's out there.

— Kirsten Akens

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