Students Who Get High Suffer Financial Aid Loss

Students Who Get High Suffer Financial Aid Loss
Posted by CN Staff on April 18, 2008 at 07:07:40 PT
By Tom Knox
Source: The Lantern
Ohio -- Joints will be smoked, bongs will be cleared and brownies will be eaten, but for students who plan on celebrating the marijuana holiday that is 4/20 this Sunday, caution must be taken: A drug conviction can end a student's education.Because of a provision to the Higher Education Act signed into law in 1998 by former President Bill Clinton, a drug conviction can result in the withholding of federal financial aid. The first conviction for marijuana possession causes a student to lose aid for one year, a second offense carries a penalty of two years and the third results in an indefinite suspension of aid.
The provision, called the Aid Elimination Penalty, now withholds federal aid if a student is convicted while in college. Until 2006 the penalty was retroactive, and people with convictions before college were barred from receiving aid.This penalty, which largely punishes users of marijuana, is not well-known among students, said Richard Morman, Deputy Chief of University Police."The big concern I would have if I was a student would be getting caught with it and then the fact if I had a lot of student financial aid that I was getting," Morman said. "I don't think a lot of people know that."According to the Washington-based advocacy organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy, approximately 7,600 of more than 3 million Ohio college applicants have been denied funding since the drug conviction question was added to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form during the 2000-2001 school year.Zach Germaniuk, president of SSDP at Ohio State, thinks the penalty is unfair."These loan restrictions are primarily the result of politicians wanting to look tough on drugs without actually addressing the problem: drug prohibition," he said in an e-mail. A drug conviction causes more problems than a loss of federal aid."Possession of marijuana, while it is a minor misdemeanor, if you're convicted of it in court you lose your driver license for 6 months," said Capt. Eric Whiteside of University Police.Student Judicial Affairs also handles students who get in trouble with marijuana. If a student is allegedly involved with marijuana, he or she receives a letter from the SJA office requiring him or her to speak with a hearing officer, said SJA director Andrea Goldblum. "The average outcome is a period of disciplinary probation and probably referral to some kind of educational program, and if it seems like a more serious issue then they would likely be forwarded to get a drug assessment," Goldblum said.Police are aware of 4/20 but do not plan on altering their actions for the day."We don't change our tactics, we tell our officers that it's 4/20 day and we try to inform them on the specifics of it but many of them already know that and we don't do anything special as a result," Whiteside said. Germaniuk compares 4/20 for marijuana users to Earth Day for environmentalists."It's not like environmentalists are only concerned about the earth on Earth Day, but it is a special day to highlight their activities," he said. "In much the same way, I think 4/20 is a symbolic holiday that is meant to show that using marijuana is a harmless personal choice."As for the history of 4/20, "the national weed smoking day," as rapper Method Man calls it, it is a date when many marijuana users gather to join in marijuana-related festivities. There are various theories behind the meaning of where the term 420 originated, including that '420' is the police radio code for marijuana use and there are 420 chemical compounds in marijuana. These are untrue, according to the urban legend Web site, which says the term originated from a small group of students in a California high school in 1971 as a code and reminder to meet to smoke at 4:20 p.m. As time passed, the term spread through the marijuana subculture to mean anything marijuana related, with April 20 being a celebratory date for users.Source: The Lantern (OH)Author: Tom KnoxPublished: April 18, 2008Copyright: 2008 The Lantern Contact: lantern osu.eduWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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