Saturday, April 30, 2011

Organizing Tip of the Week: Use Gmail to work smarter, not harder

There are tons of reasons why having a Gmail account is a great idea for your SSDP chapter:
  • easy to remember & promote
  • presents a professional image of your group
  • allows more than just one person to access
  • preserves institutional knowledge
  • ability to utilize other Google services (many chapters find Groups, Documents, Calendar to be particularly helpful)
  • and the list goes on...
It's simple and free to create a Gmail account for your SSDP chapter (ex: Then, set it up so that your chapter e-mails get forwarded to your regular e-mail inbox (ex:

It's easy to forget to check multiple e-mail accounts, so once you've set up forwarding, you'll have all of your messages in one central location. I did this for the first time in 2005 when my e-mail address was created. I didn't like the school's mail program so I had it forward to a account I created and I've never used anything else since.

Share responsibility for managing your chapter e-mail with your other officers. Provide them with the password to access your chapter Gmail account, and show them how to set up forwarding for themselves.

Then you'll all be able to see what messages have been sent, received, and which ones still need to be taken care of. Not to mention, future chapter leaders will likely appreciate having so much institutional knowledge categorized and accessible by searching for key terms or names that appear in older e-mails.

Already an avid Gmail user?
Take organizing to the next level by using Gmail filters to tame your inbox. These are especially useful for managing those useful but often high-volume Facebook notifications.

Sneak a peak inside my own inbox.
Watch this short screencast and you'll see how I set up a new filter, then I'll show you my existing filters --I have more than 50!-- that help me manage my e-mail.

(Sidenote: I used this awesome free screencapture program, Jing, to record this. More on screen sharing and other helpful web tools to come!)

I hope you find this information helpful, stay tuned for more organizing tips of the week by subscribing to the Dare Generation Diary and by joining our community on Facebook.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easy Star All Stars help spread the PA medical marijuana message

When Trevor Hosterman from West Chester SSDP volunteered to table the April 17th Easy Star All Stars/Cas Haley show at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, PA, he had no idea he'd end up on stage with the band. ESAS and Cas Haley are both in the AMPLIFY project family of artists, but not until now has an artist given our chapters such a voice. Here's what Trevor had to say about his experience:

The musical collective and SSDP AMPLIFY member, The Easy Star All Stars, had just wrapped up their set and walked off the stage, leaving the crowd inside the World Café Live in Philadelphia standing on edge, eager to hear more dubbed out tunes. Periodically, over the course of the show, I had held up a PA Medical Marijuana poster that we had been using while tabling the concert. I now found it appropriate to hold up the sign once more while the crowd waited for the All Stars to take the stage for their encore. It was then, that vocalist Kristy Rock walked out on to the stage and pointed at me and asked me to come join the band. I was dumbstruck, but managed to find my way up onto the stage where I came face to face with the crowd, proudly holding my PA Medical Marijuana poster. Once on stage, side by side with Kristy, she smiled at me, and began to tell a story. She spoke of her mother who lives in Denver, and how she is currently battling cancer, and is enduring the process of chemotherapy. Her mother is also a medical marijuana patient, and uses marijuana to help treat the pain and nausea associated with her chemotherapy treatments. Kristy gave a full endorsement of medical marijuana, and then handed me the microphone to inform the audience of our pending medical marijuana bill. I will ask you the same thing I asked the crowd, for those of us who live in Pennsylvania or have friends and family in the state, please encourage everyone you know to contact their state representative by phone, email, or writing a letter, and lets make Pennsylvania the next medical marijuana state!

This is just one example of how SSDP's AMPLIFY project can help your chapter's voice reach more people. The First Light Tour may be coming to a close soon, but you can always keep track of AMPLIFY shows here.

Feds Send Warning to Rhode Island: Compassion Centers Violate Federal Law

Rhode Island's Medical Marijuana Program has been a shining example of a successful and sensible drug policy. Most importantly, it's supported by the state's voters and legislature. But with three non-profit compassion centers set to open in the next few months, the federal government is now threatening it could prosecute in a three page hand-delivered letter to Gov. Lincoln Chaffee: 

"The Act, the registration scheme it purports to authorize, and the anticipated operation of the three centers appear to permit large-scale marijuana cultivation and distribution," Neronha wrote. 
"Accordingly, the Department of Justice could consider civil and criminal legal remedies against those individuals and entities who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries, as such actions are in violation of federal law."
The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in 2006 by the state's legislature. When then Gov. Donald Carcieri vetoed the bill, the legislature overrode him. The same happened with compassion center legislation. 

The law also has support from members of RI's medical community:
  • Rhode Island Medical Society
  • RI Academy for Family Physicians
  • Rhode Island State Nurses Association
  • United Nurses and Allied Professionals
  • AIDS Project Rhode Island
Federal government: Rhode Islanders think our medical marijuana law is wicked awesome and you have better things to do then trample our rights and waste federal resources (don't you?). 

Gov. Chaffee and other elected officials: Tell the Department of Justice to back off. 

*I'm from Rhode Island and was once an intern with the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition

Oklahoma Makes Hash Manufacturing a Felony Punishable by Life in Prison

You read that correctly. The Oklahoma legislature just passed a bill that would make manufacturing hash a felony punishable by life in prison.

the bill met little to no opposition and is now awaiting the signature of Governor Mary Falin:

The measure sailed through the Senate with little debate, passing on a vote of 44-2. The House also approved the measure by a large margin, passing it on a vote of 75-18. 
The bill, House Bill 1798, creates a new felony of converting marijuana into hash. A first conviction could garner a $50,000 fine and prison sentence of two years to life. And that's a mandatory minimum two years. Second or subsequent convictions would net doubled penalties.
Dan Riffe at the Marijuana Policy Project points out just how absurd this new law is:
Here are some other crimes and their maximum punishments under Oklahoma law:
  • Domestic abuse = 1 year
  • Drinking and driving with a child in the car = 4 years
  • Aggravated assault resulting in "great physical injury" = 5 years
  • Assault with intent to kill = 5 years
  • Kidnapping a child = 5 years
  • Second degree rape = 15 years
  • Sexual battery of a child = 20 years
If you're a citizen of Oklahoma, contact Gov. Falin today and tell her to veto this bad bill. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

At 2011 NORML Conference, SSDP & the NORML Women's Alliance announce "Sister-to-Sister"

Last week, Aaron Houston and I represented SSDP at the 40th Anniversary NORML Conference in Denver, CO. Aaron spoke on Thursday's panel, "The Feds, Marijuana and You" (watch the video here).

On Friday, I had the pleasure of joining 4 incredibly inspiring women reformers on the "Closing the Cannabis Gender Gap" panel (full video here, I'm the last speaker beginning ~45:00) See the slides from our presentation on our website. It was there that we announced the launch of an exciting new project that SSDP is proud to be working on with the NORML Women's Alliance.

The purpose and goals for "Sister-to-Sister" Cultivating Female Activists Mentoring Project are as follows:
  • To connect women in the marijuana movement with each other in order to facilitate a close-knit community of female drug law reform advocates.
  • To make women feel welcomed as part of the larger reform movement by connecting those who have been involved for less than 2-3 years with those who have been involved for more than 2-3 years.
  • To build strong professional and personal relationships between women of all demographics who wouldn’t have otherwise been introduced to one another.
  • To share skills, information, resources, contacts, and other useful knowledge that will help female reformers be more engaged and more effective as they work toward common interests.
  • To empower and instill confidence in women who are interested in seeking leadership positions within their respective groups and organizations.
  • To help close the gender gap that currently exists within the marijuana law reform community.
To read more about "Sister-to-Sister" and to find applications for the program visit our website and to learn more about the NORML Women's Alliance, visit

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Last Sacred Cow: FAMM on Cutting Criminal Justice Spending

In the video above, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) director Julie Stewart speaks during a briefing on Capitol Hill titled, "The Last Sacred Cow: How Congress Can Cut Criminal Justice Spending Without Compromising Public Safety." The briefing featured prominent conservative leaders such as Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute and Grover Norquist, highlighting the importance of criminal justice reform.

FAMM has put together an incredibly useful fact sheet citing specific actions Congress can take to reduce criminal justice spending.

More videos from the briefing are here:
Part 2: Asa Hutchinson
Part 3: Tim Lynch, Cato Institute 
Part 4: Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform