Thursday, January 27, 2011

Volunteer for an SSDP AMPLIFY show!

Hey everybody,

A new year is upon us and hopefully all your chapters are starting to rock. With the new year comes lots of awesome opportunities to help spread the word about SSDP, and one of those ways is the AMPLIFY Project!

In case you’re unfamiliar, AMPLIFY is a project between SSDP and a select group of nationally touring bands. When those bands come through your town, SSDP chapters have the chance to help promote the show on your campus and in your city. And in exchange for promoting the show, the bands will place two lucky chapter members on the guest list of that show and usually provide a table for you to promote SSDP! What could be better than ending the drug war while groovin’ to some awesome tunes?

I know, all this just has you salivating with excitement, and you want to know how you can help.

Head over to and volunteer for a show. Slightly Stoopid, Lotus, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and a few more bands have shows across the nation over the next few months, and are kind enough to let us help out. They care about our movement and are helping fight bad drug policy with us!

If you have any questions, just shoot me an email at I’m more than happy to help you guys start rocking this, so let’s do it!

SSDP's Training Conference and Lobby Day Schedule is Up!

We're excited to announce SSDP's 2011 Training Conference and Lobby Day tentative schedule! You can view the full agenda below and speakers and panelists will be announced shortly - so sign up for SSDP's email updates to stay tuned.

As you can see, we have some exciting workshops planned for the weekend and our staff is incredibly excited to see all of our chapters convene in the Washington, D.C. area.

If you haven't registered for the conference yet, be sure to do so soon. Registration costs will go up after March 1, 2011.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meet the leaders of our 3 newest chapters

Announcing the latest additions to SSDP's chapter network; we're proud to add the following three new chapters to the map!
  • Daytona State College - Daytona Beach, FL (Southern Region)
    When Patrick Moo called our office for the first time at the beginning of December, he was already ahead of the game. He was already in the process of starting a chapter at Daytona, had recruited several interested students and had gained the support of a faculty member! The chapter has already begun collecting petitions to get medical marijuana on the Florida ballot in 2012.
  • Rowan University - Glassboro, NJ (Northeast Region)
    Phil Simmons discovered us when he was calling California voters to support Proposition 19 using Just Say Now's phonebank tool, and decided to establish a chapter at Rowan. In an effort to begin building coalitions on campus, he has reached out to several other school clubs who are willing to give the chapter a few minutes to speak about SSDP at the beginning of their meetings. Now that they've gained official recognition this week, Rowan SSDP has hit the ground running and have several events and campaigns lined up for the semester.
  • Radford University - Radford, VA (Mid-Atlantic Region)
    Dave Campanella informally stumbled across an SSDP chapter about a year ago at West Virginia University where he was an undergraduate. Last fall he begun his time at Radford pursuing a masters degree in criminal justice, and is writing his thesis on drug policy issues. Andrew Fernandez heard about SSDP from his brother who currently leads our George Mason University chapter! As a former RA on campus, he knows that Radford is one of those "call the cops when you smell the tinest amount of marijuana" type of schools, so the chapter will be bringing attention to the issue.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy is active across the United States with official chapters at over 150 high schools, colleges, universities, graduate & law schools. Visit our website to join or start one at your school today, and to access our activist resources including our comprehensive Student Organizing Manual.

Monday, January 24, 2011

NJ: Watch your step, Governor...

With Gov. Chris Christie’s approval ratings teetering, and talk of a potential presidential run in 2012, one would think the last thing he would want to do is exacerbate any issue that polls well with his constituency.  But when it comes to the overwhelmingly popular topic of medical marijuana, Gov. Christie has yet to see the forest full of trees.

With 81 percent of Americans now in favor of medical marijuana, Christie finds himself fighting an uphill battle against common sense and compassion.  And state legislators find themselves at an impasse with the program, thanks in part to the governor and his desire to make the program overly restrictive.  New Jersey’s medical marijuana law is currently the most restrictive in the nation, and a year behind schedule.

Gov. Christie has created a stalemate that is angering advocates, politicians and patients alike.  And with 2012 right around the corner, maybe now is not such a great time to blatantly ignore your supporters and press on with a personal agenda based on failed, prohibitionist policies.

Chapter Leader of the Week: Rob Pfountz, University of Arkansas

  • Robert Pfountz
  • SSDP State Coordinator for Arkansas
  • Former President, University of Arkansas SSDP
  • Major: Political Science Minor: Economics
SSDP: When did you 1st get involved with SSDP?
Rob: The first SSDP event that I attended was to see Norm Stamper of LEAP speak on-campus at the University of Arkansas in 2008. I had always supported marijuana policy reform, but this event was the first time I realized that we also needed the same reform towards a regulated market with dangerous drugs like methamphetamine that have had a pernicious effect on our families and friends here in Arkansas.

SSDP: What has been your favorite SSDP experience?
Rob: My favorite SSDP experience was attending the Drug Policy Alliance conference in Albuquerque, NM in 2009 as a representative for our SSDP chapter at the U of A. I have never been around so many well respected and intelligent individuals from all around the world who share a common goal of reforming our failed drug policies. If you haven’t attended this unparalleled event I suggest for you to go to the one this November in Los Angeles, CA (

SSDP: What issues are most important for your chapter?
Rob: With a stable economy and only a population of close to 80,000 our city of Fayetteville does not typically encounter some the drug problems frequently seen in the larger neighboring cities of Little Rock, Tulsa, and Kansas City. This has lead us to focus our attention on marijuana since it is the most widely used illicit substance in our area, and because it is the most politically feasible to accomplish significant progress towards reducing the harm caused by its prohibition. We have made inroads towards this goal by making marijuana the lowest law enforcement and prosecutorial priority in Fayetteville by initiative in 2008 with 66% of the vote, and by passing a SAFER initiative in 2009 with 67% of the student vote to equalize the penalties for alcohol and marijuana on our campus.

SSDP: Do you have any events planned for this semester?

Rob: In February we are having US Marine Corps Veteran Glenn Kunkel come speak about the medical applications that cannabis has for soldiers returning home with physical and mental ailments such as PTSD. Events like this one that was set up by our current president Stephen Duke will go a long way towards helping us attain safe access for medical marijuana here in Arkansas. We will also be attending SSDP’s 2011 Training Conference & Lobby Day at the University of Maryland!!!

SSDP: What do you like best about being part of SSDP?
Rob: There are few other student organizations that gather such a diverse background of individuals towards a common goal. Where you were once rejected you will find acceptance here at SSDP.

SSDP: What's your favorite "SSDP quote"?
Rob: I don't necessarily have a favorite SSDP quote, but the most memorable one was stopping the chant "Smoke Weed Everyday" that was started by a former chapter president in front of our student union. You have to remember that people will only take us as serious as we present ourselves.

SSDP: Any fun facts about you?

Rob: I am originally from Memphis, TN, but I have also lived in Dallas, TX and Toronto, ON Canada. In my spare time I enjoy reading, playing guitar, and skateboarding. During my time as a teenager roaming the downtown streets of Toronto I made it into Thrasher skateboarding magazine in 1998. My reading usually gravitates towards US drug, foreign, and monetary policy that promotes individual and economic liberty. I am a non-traditional student, and before I returned to school I worked for the federal government for 4 years as a USPS Rural Carrier Associate. I was recently awarded SAFER’s 2010 Outstanding Student Activism Award, and helped lead our chapter to a number 8 ranking by SSDP for the top 20 schools for drug policy activism in 2010. Last semester I helped Jason Malonson establish our second Arkansas SSDP chapter at NWACC in Bentonville where Wal-Mart’s headquarters are located. Currently, I am working on a medical marijuana initiative to place on the Arkansas 2012 ballot.

SSDP: Do you have any advice for other chapter leaders?
Rob: As a chapter leader you have to remember it is you that has to push the group forward, and when doing this you will be held to a higher standard than other student organizations because of the stigma still attached to drugs. It is important to network and provide incentives for member involvement in chapter activities, but if you work hard others will notice and will naturally be attracted towards your determination. Drug policy reform is a lifestyle, and you will find many opportunities to make a difference. The best way to be prepared for this is to be well read on the issues so you can effectively communicate our tragic social condition. There are few no-brainers in politics, but drug policy reform is one of them. Don’t ever be ashamed or afraid of speaking the truth, because our opponents are on the wrong side of history.