Thursday, August 12, 2010

Top 20 Schools for Drug Policy Activism 2010

On newsstands this week, the October issue of High Times magazine features the Top 20 Institutions of Higher Education, their "annual list of schools and universities for students committed to marijuana activism". Compiled by SSDP staff members, this list reflects our chapters who have done outstanding work to reform marijuana and other drug policies at their schools during the 2009-2010 school year. Make sure to pick up a copy to read the full article with details on the amazing work these chapters did over the past year to earn this distinction.

1. Ithaca College Ithaca, NY
2. University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
3. Kent State University Kent, OH
4. Northern Virginia Community College Woodbridge, VA
5. University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
6. Front Range Community College Boulder, CO
7. University of Maryland College Park, MD
8. University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
9. West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
10. University of Connecticut Storrs, CT
11. University of Texas El Paso, TX
12. Northern Illinois University Dekalb, IL
13. Black Hills State University Spearfish, SD
14. Brown University Providence, RI
15. Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
16. University of Miami Miami, FL
17. San Francisco State University San Francisco, CA
18. SUNY New Paltz New Paltz, NY
19. Reed College Portland, OR
20. Mills College Oakland, CA

Congratulations to all SSDP chapter members for your outstanding work advancing the student movement to end the war on drugs!

Stay tuned for updates from all of our 132 active chapters as they begin the 2010-2011 school year this month through our Action Alert list, Facebook Page & Cause, and Twitter.

Chapter members: check out this page to learn about how your chapter's work can be featured in High Times.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SSDP Chapter Gets Marijuana Reform to the Ballot!

Voters in the city of Kalamazoo [MI] are one step closer to deciding whether to liberalize the way law enforcement deals with the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the city.

The Kalamazoo Coalition for Pragmatic Cannabis Laws turned in 4,776 signatures to the City Clerk's Office on Monday - 2,000 more than required - seeking to amend the city charter to state that the possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana by those 21 and older should be the "lowest possible priority" for law enforcement.

The clerk's office has 45 days to certify the signatures, but they are expected to be certified by some time mid to late next week, office officials said. The coalition needs at least 2,752 signatures of registered voters to get the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Click Here to Read the Initiative
The SSDP chapter at Western Michigan University took the lead on collecting signatures for this ballot initiative early in the summer. Chapter President Alexander Lanning worked countless hours with his chapter and the Kalamazoo Coalition for Pragmatic Cannabis Laws in order to make this happen. SSDP board member and University of Michigan alum Chris Chiles also helped significantly in these efforts. While the signatures haven't been certified yet, by collecting 2,000 more than they needed, it's almost guaranteed to make the ballot.

Congratulations go out to all who worked on making this happen. Lowest law enforcement priority campaigns can be launched in many cities and provide a great way to inspire your chapter members and build coalitions in your communities. If your chapter is interested in running one, contact your outreach director.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Production! Sale! Distribution! Legalize!

Vicente Fox, as president, and Ernesto Zedillo, his immedidate predecessor.
Both favor legalization of drugs. Their successor, Felipe Calderon, does not.

Early last week, Felipe Calderon hummed and hahed over legalizing drugs, preferring instead to talk about how he favored a debate about drug legalization. Newspapers from around the world suggested that Calderon had warmly invited a debate.

Yet late last week, his immediate predecessor, Vicente Fox Quesada (2000 - 2006), offered a more concrete proposal. Where Calderon prejudiced his comments about debate by declaring disfavor for legalization, Fox intimated that the debate about legalization -- with evidence in hand and at least in his mind -- has already been won. Motivated in part by a desire to confront the 28,000 corpses from drug violence since 2006, and resurrect Mexico in the world's eyes, Fox offered his own recipe for the debate about legalization.

The legal production, sale, and distribution of all drugs.

It was a practical post from the former Coca Cola Mexico chief executive. Before he dealt with drugs, Fox wrote that Mexico would need to take the Army off its streets and return them to their barracks. A new National Police should be created, and its constitution operate at a state level. Citizens should -- as a way to reduce politicking over security -- elect those responsible for safety, like police chiefs, and other security professionals. There would also be a need to reform the Ministerios Publicos, agents who help prosecutors with the inquisitorial process in the judicial system.

Fox didn't just focus on public safety reforms. He suggested that a broad, advertised health campaign could help prevent addiction, or help those already addicted to rehabilitation.

Fox made sure -- unlike his successor Felipe Calderon -- to not take a position in favor or against drugs. Rather his position is borne of real politik:

"we have to see the outcome of a strategy to hit and break the
economic structure of the mafias to generate enormous profits in
commerce. [Prohibition] serves to corrode and increase their
hold on power."
Before he drew his post to a close -- in a comment that should have been directed at Calvina Fey of the Drug Free America Foundation -- Fox wrote that radical prohibition "has never functioned." Instead, he suggested that his position has three bases: 1. experience, 2. self-criticism, and 3. "successful practices from other countries."

Fox now joins three other former Latin American presidents, Zedillo of Mexico, Gaviria of Colombia, and Cardoso of Brazil in declaring the death of the War on Drugs. Barack Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has suggested it should end, but the U.S. remains wedded to a zero tolerance counter-narcotics strategy. Last week it posted 1,200 National Guard to the U.S. border area.

Mexico Did Not Legalize Drugs

And neither did the UK. But that's not stopping those opposing California's Proposition 19 from lying about it on television (either they're lying or they know so little about drug policy, they actually believe it to be true).

First, Jane Hamsher went on CNN to discuss the campaign alongside No on Prop 19 spokesman, Tim Rosales. Rosales claims, "They've tried it in Mexico, uh, they've seen an explosion in drug violence..."

First of all, Mexico has never legalized marijuana. What they have done is decriminalize the personal possession of small amounts of all drugs. Decriminalization is not legalization. Furthermore, decriminalization was a response to the explosion of drug violence that was already occurring thanks to drug prohibition here in the U.S. and was intended to allow law enforcement to focus more on cartels than users. Rosales goes on to say that legalization would give cartels a platform to sell marijuana. Scott Morgan easily debunks that statement over at the Speakeasy blog.

Then there is the Bishop Ron Allen from Sacramento, California who SSDP's Aaron Houston had the pleasure of debating. The Bishop has more difficulty keeping his composure and controlling the words that come out of his mouth than Rosales did. He claims that both Mexico and the UK have tried legalizing all drugs - something that would probably surprise the UK chapters of SSDP.

This is all pretty basic information. You don't need to be a sociologist or policy wonk to find out whether or not entire countries like Mexico or the UK have legalized drugs. But I guess the requirements for managing an anti-legalization campaign or becoming a spokesperson against sensible drug policy reform are pretty low. You just have to be a good liar or a raving lunatic.

Stop lying about Prop 19 and marijuana legalization.

Just Say Now!

Sign the Petition
SSDP's partnership with Firedoglake and LEAP for the Just Say Now campaign is officially underway.

Just Say Now's advisory board includes former law enforcement officers, physicians, and others from all sides of the political spectrum. Some notable members include Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan.

We have started a petition through the campaign calling on President Obama to end marijuana prohibition. Sign it