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.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If You Want to Get At Somebody, You Get At Their Children

The war on drugs is a war on us.

In case you didn't read the New York Times this weekend, there was a grueling and heart-wrenching story about the families along the border in Mexico caught in the middle of their current political nightmare. When five houses in your neighborhood are set on fire by well-funded and well-armed men, you run - and many people are looking to the US for asylum. "Some of the families who are fleeing from Mexico are doing it because...if you want to get at somebody, you get at their children" said one terrified citizen.

There's a raging battle next door that the US government is responsible for waging and the first wave of refugees have arrived. Towns and cities all along the US border in Mexico are being abandoned as our neighbors flee for their lives.


To protect the children. To save the lives of the children.

We have created a war that kills children in order to save the children.

On January 31st, there was a massacre of students in Juárez straight out of Al Capone's days. Cartel mercenaries burst into a party filled with mostly high school students celebrating a soccer win and a birthday, and murdered 13 teenagers and two adults. Blood and bodies poured onto the street and the outrage poured out of Juárez and El Paso. In response, the US and Mexican governments have vowed to continue the same failed approach with a little extra aggression on top.

Earlier this month, two graduate students at the Monterrey Institute of Technology - the Harvard of Mexico - were murdered when they walked into a showdown between the military and a local cartel. They made the mistake of staying too late at the library to study. The Mexican government denies any real responsibility - but at least they did finally apologize under pressure.

A few days later in Durango, several students on their way to pick up their government scholarship checks were stopped at a cartel check point - stopped from ever breathing again. 10 young people were bombed and killed by the ruthless criminals in control of their part of the country. The victims ranged in age from 8 to 21, half of them under 16. (Apparently the military sometimes stays away from these roadblocks because it's not safe for them - the ones with guns who are hired to protect their citizens.)

So what is the message we are sending to the children?

According to one mother who has managed to escape to Texas with her life, '“All the children, the only thing they know how to play is sicarios,” she said, using the Spanish word for hired killers.'

Last week the LA Times reported the death toll in Mexico is more than previously estimated, and has topped 22,000 since the start of President Calderon's war on drug cartels in December 2007.

You know, it makes me absolutely ill every time a prohibitionist says, "Well if our drug policies save even one child's life, it's worth it."

Great attitude - but can you look at reality yet?