#34 PRIME TIME: What is SSDP?

By: Marys Medicinal |
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Written by Sarah M. Cohen

Mary’s Prime Time Blog recently asked contributor Sarah M. Cohen to attend the annual meeting of Students for Sensible Drug Policy in Chicago. The next few blogs will contain Sarah’s reports from that meeting. — Alice O’Leary Randall, editor.

At a time when so many of our politicians are behaving like children, it was a breath of fresh air to spend time with young people who are doing the hard work of leading.  This year’s “Global Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference” was held in Chicago and I was lucky enough to go! The conference was produced by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), a student-led organization founded in 1998 after President Bill Clinton signed into law amendments to the Higher Education Act that allowed denial of financial aid to college and university students convicted of low-level drug charges.

Currently, SSDP boasts 5,000 student members on over 300 campuses in the US and dozens more in 32 other countries. It is “dedicated to ending harms created by punitive drug prohibition including mass incarceration, racial injustice in enforcement and collateral consequences, public health approaches and miseducation which make drug use more dangerous, denial of effective medical treatment, and human rights abuses around the world.” 

While I may still need some more convincing to embrace all of the goals of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, their positions have merit and their ability to put on an informative, well-run conference is impressive.  

SSDP’s 2019 Federal Policy Agenda is equally inspiring.  It articulates five objectives: 

  1. End federal cannabis prohibition with reparative justice measures
  2. Reduce barriers to educational funding
  3. Reduce barriers to scientific research
  4. Mitigate the overdose crisis through harm reduction policies
  5. International Drug Policy Reform

In the spirit of, “Just Say Know!” (a favorite of Mary’s Prime Time blog editor Alice O’Leary Randall and an SSDP slogan) I will highlight some of the sessions I attended in the future blogs that follow. ❖