Pubdate: Mon, 15 Mar 1999
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 1999, The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Steve Stephens, Dispatch Columnist

Murderers and rapists are eligible for federal student aid. Pot smokers are

This idiocy, though, is not what turned Heath Wintz into a warrior against
the drug war.

DARE performed that trick, back when the Columbus State Community College
honors student was in middle school.

Wintz, 21, a clean-cut, well-spoken sophomore studying environmental
engineering, was gathering signatures in the student lounge at Nestor Hall
when I met him last week.

Wintz would like students to take a stand against the Higher Education Act
of 1998.

One provision denies aid to students convicted of sale or possession of
drugs while another provides money to educate those locked up for non-drug

Wintz noted, correctly, that this makes no sense.

"I'm just sorry that I'm one of the few people who find this offensive
enough to speak out,'' he said.

His efforts at Columbus State yielded 84 signatures last week -- more than
in a earlier attempt, when campus officials and security guards forced him
to scram.

"The student-activities people gave me no flak this time, other than asking
me to leave at the time I had printed on my fliers,'' he said.

Wintz began to question the drug war 10 years ago when he noticed that only
police, not doctors or psychologists, taught his Drug Abuse Resistance
Education classes.

He'd seen older kids smoking marijuana "and they weren't dying, like they
said in DARE.''

"As I got older, I could see that people can smoke pot and still can do well
in college, can succeed in life.

"So I asked questions. In DARE, though, they wouldn't stray from the
rehearsed rhetoric. As you can guess, I wasn't a very popular kid.''

Wintz insisted he's not advocating marijuana use. He's merely sharing his
discovery that far more lives are destroyed bydrug warriors and their laws
than by the pharmacological effects of drugs.

Many Columbus State students -- especially those in law-enforcement
classes -- took issue with Wintz's efforts. Others refused to sign Wintz's
petition because they feared government reprisal.

I can't fault them. In times of war, there's no such thing as paranoia.

The feds have begun a crackdown in California against supporters of the
medical use of marijuana, arresting author Peter McWilliams, 1998
Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Steven Kubby, Kubby's wife and others.

Forfeiture laws allow police across the country to seize cars, homes and
money on the flimsiest of drug-related pretexts.

Fortunately, opposition to drug-war madness has arisen across the political
spectrum, from Barney Frank to William F. Buckley. On the other hand, Bill
Clinton, who prefers not to inhale (I imagine him chewing the ends of his
reefers like cigar butts), was a big supporter of the legislation Wintz

My stand on casual drug use resembles Hillary Rodham Clinton's on casual
adultery: I don't endorse it, but I tolerate it for the sake of the

The real battles, though, will fall to the next generation.

I've always considered DARE a complete waste of time and money. But if it
can help turn the best and brightest into young drug-war cynics, I may just
change my mind.

Steve Stephens is a Dispatch Metro columnist. He can be reached at 461-5201

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