Pubdate: Tue, 14 Nov 2006
Source: Appalachian, The (NC Edu)
Copyright: 2006 Appalachian State University
Author: Lillian Hogan, News Editor
Bookmark: (Youth)


The Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty passed into law to
discourage students from getting high, but critics say it discourages

Due to the HEA, one convicted possession of a controlled substance,
which can include a small amount of marijuana, makes a student
ineligible for federal financial aid for one year.

Rep. Mike Souder (R-Ind.), a congress HEA promoter, introduced the aid
elimination penalty because he wants to prevent federal money from
being spent purchasing drugs, Kris Krane, executive director of
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy in Washington, D.C., said.

Souder believes students using drugs cannot learn properly, he said.

Politicians are hard on drug crimes, Assistant University Attorney
David Larry said, because on the flipside they seem pro-drug.

Members of the Appalachian State University campus seem to be
primarily baffled by the law or are ardently against it.

University Attorney Dayton T. Cole said the HEA is a "peculiar federal
statute," because with financial aid withdrawal, there is no mention
of violent crimes such as rape that are far more harmful to society
than marijuana convictions.

Police Chief Gunther E. Doerr said he understands enforcement of the
HEA punishment if there is "some kid dealing drugs on a college campus
and drawing financial aid."

However, he said he is unsure of the HEA's effectiveness and believes
it adds little to campus safety. "I don't think students using drugs
should use federal money to do it. In that vein, the law is fair,"
Financial Aid Director Esther Manogin said.

The biggest problem Manogin sees with the law is the "regulatory
problem it puts on the financial aid office," she said.

Office of Student Conduct Director Judy M. Haas sees the HEA from two
sides. Haas said the law does seem unfair because it targets
low-income populations.

However, it is fair that there is a way to show rehab and get aid
back, she said.

A student can resume aid eligibility sooner if they complete drug
rehabilitation and drug tests, according to the law.

The Appalachian chapters of Help End Marijuana Prohibition/National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws are dedicated supporters
of HEA reform.

Appalachian HEMP/NORML President Josh C. Kleinstreuer said he sends
letters to government representatives to help repeal the "hypocritical

One of the government's missions is to move people from an illegal
market into mainstream society, Kleinstreuer said.

"If the government denies a student aid to get back into a legal
lifestyle then what choice does he or she have then to resort back to
the underground life they have been living?" he said.

The law hits close to home for Kleinstreuer. He was convicted for
marijuana possession in 2001.

"Had I not had the financial stability to pay for college, I would not
be the successful student I am today," he said.

Student Government Association President Forrest S. Gilliam said,
"[The HEA] ends up being discriminatory, but I see the interest the
government has, like a parent has, in money they're spending on students."

However, he said, "one marijuana offense doesn't mean you're a pothead
   politicians can't measure someone's performance or value from one

Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, an international organization
concerned with drug policy, works to repeal the aid

A class action lawsuit to erase the aid penalty, filed by the SSDP,
was dismissed by the Bush administration last month.

SSDP will continue to fight and weigh legal options to get the
Removing Impediments to Student's Education Act, a bill to fully
repeal the aid penalty, sponsored by Congress, Krane said.

"This is a law that solely impacts students from low-to-middle-income
families," Krane said.

If a non-financial aid receiving student is convicted for drugs, they
get a court punishment, but there is no impact on their education, he

Students most at risk for drug problems should get a college degree to
ensure their economic improvement and success, Krane said.

"A person with a college degree will be far less likely to go on to
abuse drugs in the future," he said.

Lisa A. Curtin, psychology professor and researcher of substance
abuse, said it is better to assess problems before recommending

A false assumption is that a person who has used marijuana is a
chronic user, Curtin said.

She said, however, that substance use directly correlates with lower
grade point averages.

"Problematic use can affect education, but one time users can learn,"
Curtin said. "Not everyone using has a problem."

Note: This is the second article of a four-part series on drug policies.
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