Friday, April 23, 2010

What did SSDP do on 4/20?

April 20th has become infamous for it's association with "pot culture" over the years and students who advocate for an end to the war on drugs (including, of course, the end of marijuana prohibition) have to work extra hard to dispel stereotypes about members of the drug policy reform movement. We all know that hosting smoke outs or tie-dye making events on April 20th of all days won't help to change that.

So what exactly did SSDP do on 4/20? We made some noise.

Our chapters at the University of Connecticut and University of New Hampshire, Durham were each featured in front page news articles in their campus newspapers on 4/20 this year. The focus of each article was on the work SSDP is doing to reform drug policies on their campuses and in their states. Not the amount or type of marijuana being smoked.

Ashley Rennebu, our chapter leader at UNH has been working on a campus Good Samaritan or Medical Amnesty policy from her position as a student Senator.
Rennebu has been working to have the Good Samaritan Policy implemented here on the UNH campus since January of last year. Her work with the student senate has garnered much attention on the Facebook group, “Bring a Good Samaritan Law to UNH,” of which 2,034 users have become members. On Sunday, the student senate passed a resolution urging the Office of Conduct and Mediation to implement a Good Samaritan Policy here at UNH.
The news at UNH on 4/20 had nothing to do with marijuana, since their Good Samaritan policy resolution only addressed emergencies involving alcohol, not other drugs. This is an excellent sign that the public opinion of drug law reform is becoming more favorable and less focused on marijuana.

And at the University of Connecticut, the campus paper's coverage of SSDP was focused on the chapter's efforts to impact statewide marijuana policy, as they were fresh off of a strategy summit they hosted last weekend to bring Connecticut drug policy reformers together to discuss state level legislation.
The chapter is currently discussing state Raised Bill 476, An Act Concerning Nonviolent Drug Possession Offenses, which seeks to downgrade the status of drug possession from a Class C Misdemeanor to an infraction. The substitute for Senate Bill 349, An Act Concerning the Penalty for the Possession of a Small Amount on Marijuana, which was defeated last May, was also discussed.
Katlin Tyrol, outgoing SSDP chapter president, also mentioned the relationship between marijuana policies and student financial aid eligibility, campus drug law enforcement, and the power of student political involvement. the drug summit meeting Saturday, [Katlin] said that students have testified in front of state committees and that students are a formidable force in creating change in shaping drug policy in the government. “As students we’re a powerhouse. We can do anything that we set our minds to…All the political process doesn’t happen in Congress,” she said. “It’s us.”