Pubdate: Wed, 03 May 2006
Source: Carroll County Comet (IN)
Copyright: 2006 Carrollpapers, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Alan Shultz is to be commended for raising awareness of the Higher
Education Act's denial of student loans to youth convicted of drug
offenses. I wonder if Indiana Representative Mark Souder is proud of
the fact that Indiana leads the nation in disenfranchised kids as a
result of the law he authored. Instead of empowering at-risk students
with a college degree, HEA limits career opportunities and increases
the likelihood that those affected will resort to crime. Speaking of
crime, convicted rapists and murderers are still eligible for federal
student loans.

Most students outgrow their youthful indiscretions involving drugs. An
arrest and criminal record, on the other hand, can be life-shattering.
After admitting to smoking pot (but not inhaling), former President
Bill Clinton opened himself up to "soft on drugs" criticism. And
thousands of Americans have paid the price in the form of shattered
lives. More Americans went to prison or jail during the Clinton
administration than during any past administration.

As an admitted former drinker and alleged illicit drug user, President
George W. Bush is also politically vulnerable when it comes to drugs.
While youthful indiscretions didn't stop Clinton or Bush from assuming
leadership positions, an arrest surely would have. The short-term
effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the longterm
effects of criminal records. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC 20012