Reed College Can Be Prosecuted for Being a 'Crack House'

In spite of a high-profile federal crackdown, Reed College's annual hippie drug fest, Renn Fayre, came and went without a single arrest. Surprise side effect: the Feds now say they can prosecute tacitly drug-friendly colleges for being crack houses.

Noting that "higher education's Burning Man" is "no fun sober," Newsweek's Winston Ross writes that U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton told Reed president Colin Diver that, if school officials knowingly allow drug use, the Seedy Reedies could go down for operating a crack house.

Yes, crack houses. Holton did not actually threaten to lock Diver up. But he did end a meeting that he insists was more about "What can we do to help?" by referencing the statute, which carries a 20-year prison sentence and a $500,000 fine. And when pressed, Holton says he could actually imagine using it, if the college knowingly allowed the kind of open-air drug peddling and usage around which Renn Fayre is long rumored to revolve. "I don't lose any sleep whatsoever at the prospect that I'm going to end up in jail or with a $500,000 fine," Diver told NEWSWEEK. "But it would really, really be unpleasant if either I or the board of trustees were hauled into court on an investigation into whether we were running a crack house. This would not be fun."

The news that smoking a spliff on a bucolic campus green constitutes living in a crack den is surely thrilling to Reed's trustifarians, whose street cred suddenly multiplied manifold. So then I moved out of my parents' house, and then I lived in a crack house for four years. Luckily, Reed dodged the bullet and remained a wholesome college campus during this year's Renn Fayre, in spite of the fact that...

A NEWSWEEK reporter smelled pot, but didn't see any drug use during several hours spent at the festival last weekend.

And how did the reporter know what pot smelled like, hmm? Unless Newsweek has become a marijuana-and-opium den. [Newsweek, Renn Fayre image via Flickr]

Previously: Mean Feds Crack Down on Hippie School's Annual Drug-Taking Festival