Friday, March 23, 2007

Student's Against Spencer's?

In Dover NH, members of a "peer-oriented drug prevention program" called Youth 2 Youth are trying to pass a town ordinance ordinance asking that stores in town not be allowed to sell products that promote drug use to children under 18; to require teens to be 18 before they can enter the store; and to put the products in a separate location so it can be monitored.

They are claiming that all items depicting marijuana leaves are promoting drug use to children. To try an make a very poor point, Youth 2 Youth sends a 9 year old to buy items with marijuana leafs on them. I doubt it is very typical for 9 year olds to ever purchase those items and if they did, shouldn't it be the parents responsibility to monitor what their children are buying and using? I know my mom wouldn't have let me have a pot leaf poster at 9 years old but she wouldn't have allowed me to have a Budweiser poster either. Many schools already have dress codes in place that prohibit clothing with drug references anyway.

In NH of all places, Youth 2 Youth is trying to limit free speech and expression and is blurring the importance of a peer to peer drug education. If a Dover teen wants to spend their earned money on a book about marijuana or super trippy black light poster they should be able to. Youth 2 Youth's efforts should be put into reducing the harms associated with drug use, not prohibiting posters, lollipops, and t-shirts. That is why approaches to reducing drug use like this do not work, like DARE they are over exaggerating, ignoring the root of the problem and alienating those students that may have different interests than they do.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Meet Jake Roland...

...SSDP's new Outreach Director!

Jake will be helping new chapters get set up and established on campus, while I will be focusing on assisting our established chapters with campaigns and major events. Say hi to Jake by sending an email to jake // at //

Welcome to the team, Jake!

Another victim of the Drug War

The following heart-wrenching story was sent to the SSDP office this morning...
I went hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, at the end of last summer. I consumed some hallucinogenic mushrooms, and had a small amount still on me. The person that I was with was my new roommate, and I thought he had more experience with hallucinogens. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. We took a wrong turn off of the trail (attempting to avoid other visitors), and my acquaintance slipped and started sliding down the rock walls of the canyon. I did not know if he was OK or not. At the time, I was the president of the rock climbing club at my school, and I had a lot of hiking experience. I thought that I would be able to go down slowly, and help him.

My judgment was corrupted by the mushroom trip, and I ended up sliding down a portion of the canyon as well. I clawed into the sides of the canyon with my hands, only to find them scraped and bleeding. That's when the trip went really, really bad. I realized the danger we were in, and I panicked. There was no way out of this one, and all I wanted was to be on stable ground. I tried to hike out, but I couldn't make it safely. I couldn't trust my judgment any more. I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to be over, but I had at least another hour left in the trip.

I tried to call my parents, but I didn't have cell service. I yelled for help. Some other park visitors heard my yell, and a rescue team was on the way. We were pulled out of the canyon with ropes and harnesses and taken to the hospital. By the time I got to the top, my trip was over. My acquaintance had already admitted to authorities that we both took mushrooms. They found the mushrooms which I had tried to put under a rock. After the hospital, we were both taken to jail.

I have been a straight-A honor student my whole life. I graduated high school valedictorian. I was president of the national honor society. In college, I am a 4.0 Senior III in Mechanical Engineering. I have been accepted into every honor society that I have applied myself toward, including those which have nothing to do with academics. I have served as a class representative on student government. I am a founding member of the Kettering Entrepreneur Society. I am on the board of directors for a community service organization called real SERVICE, Inc. I organized a recent benefit concert at my school which raised over $2,000 for New Orleans musicians.

My list of accomplishments goes on and on and on. I am not a druggie. I am not a burnout. I had a perfectly clean criminal record. But I made a huge mistake that day in Bryce Canyon, and it has cost me dearly. I was charged with possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms and intoxication in a National Park, a 2nd degree felony. In addition, I was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, which they found by searching my car. Since I am not ashamed, I confessed what happened and plead guilty to all charges. The charges for possession of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and intoxication were all dropped, but I am stuck with a 2nd degree felony on my record.

Even though the crime had nothing to do with driving, I lost my driving privileges in Utah for 6 months. I have been doing my internship here all winter, so I have had to rely on people I barely know for rides to and from work all winter long. I ride most of the time in the bed of a Subaru Brat. Fortunately, my school never found out about the charges, and I am still in line to graduate. I did not fill out a FAFSA this year. I have completed a rehab program, and I have 2 unannounced drug screens that came out clean.

My philosophy has always been this: I will not try any drug which is reasonably addictive or lethal. Unfortunately for me, the legal system does not reflect these priorities since psylocybin is classified as a schedule I controlled substance. My largest concern with this felony is my eligibility for hire upon graduation. This has potential to impact the rest of my life.

This incident has opened my eyes in many ways. I am now a huge supporter of drug policy reform. I appreciate everything that SSDP is doing. Without organizations like SSDP, students are truly without a voice. Thank you for bringing the people who care together. United we stand.
Please TAKE ACTION to protect young people from having their aspirations derailed by the War on Drugs.