1. Making history in Colorado and Washington.
Election Day this year marked the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition as Colorado (55%-45% on Amendment 64) and Washington (56%-44% on Initiative 502) voters said yes to legalizing marijuana! Through our online phonebanking tool, SSDPers from across the country made 17,882 calls to Colorado voters under the age of 30 to help turn out the all important youth vote. On the ground, our students, staff, and alumni played critical roles, canvassing on campuses, phone banking, sign waving, recruiting volunteers and more. Read more.
2. Changing state policies in Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.
On February 6th, Illinois Gov. Quinn signed SB 1701 (known better as the Good Samaritan Policy or Overdose Immunity Bill), which establishes extended rights for drug offenders calling on behalf of someone overdosing. Members of several SSDP chapters in the state helped lobby their representatives and worked actively with coalition partners. Read more.
On April 6th, Gov. Scott signed Florida’s 911 Good Samaritan Act (SB 278). Florida became the 6th state to extend immunity to possession of controlled substances (joining NM, WA, CT, NY, and IL) and the 6th state to add help-seeking as a mitigating factor (joining NM, AK, MD, WA, UT, and IL). Once the bill cleared the Legislature, SSDP mobilized chapters across the state to urge the Governor to sign it, including creating action centers to generate positive communication toward Gov. Scott and generating media to help spread awareness of the bill. Read more.
On May 31st, Gov. Malloy signed HB 5389 (An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana) into law. HB 5389 allows patients with qualifying conditions to obtain marijuana from dispensaries. Our students worked along side coalition partners to host rallies, coordinated student lobbying efforts, testified in front of lawmakers, and personally called members of the House and Senate to express their support for the bill. Read more.
On June 13th, Gov. Chafee signed S2253/H7092 into law. This legislation replaces the criminal penalties for adults’ possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a civil violation of $150 for most violations. Rhode Island SSDPers canvassed local neighborhoods to gather grassroots support, wrote several op-eds and LTE’s to local newspapers, lobbied representatives, and even testified before lawmakers in support of passing the legislation. Read more.
On December 7th, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray signed the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Amendment Act of 2012 (#B19-754). The legislation provides limited legal protection for those who witness or experience a drug overdose and summon medical assistance. The legislation now goes before the United States Congress for review, as required by federal law. SSDP students and board members were involved in the process from the beginning, attending coalition meetings, drafting language, and conducting outreach. Read more.
3. Changing campus drug policies at UConn, Northeastern, FSU, Ithaca and SUNY New Paltz.
In January, the University of Connecticut’s Office of Community Standards altered its penalties for students found in possession of small amounts of marijuana, equalizing the punishment with underage drinking. Student Body President and SSDP board member, Sam Tracy authored the endorsement as a Senator and later won the race for President on a platform that included reforming campus marijuana policies. Read more.
In April, 70% of Northeastern University students voted in favor of a referendum to equalize the penalty for being caught with marijuana with the penalty for minors caught with alcohol. Members of NU SSDP worked hard to get the issue on the ballot and to garner support for the referendum. Read more.
This August, Florida State University announced a Medical Amnesty Policy to take effect in the fall semester. Our chapter at FSU had been working with their administration for years in efforts to implement a 911 Good Samaritan Policy on their campus and their hard work has finally paid off. Read more.
Starting this fall semester, Ithaca College will punish both marijuana and alcohol violations the same. Over the past year, Ithaca College’s chapter of SSDP had worked with the Student Government Association and the administration on the details of the new “equalization policy”, which was included with other recommendations from the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention (AOD) Team that would change the judicial protocol for sanctioning students caught in possession of minor amounts of marijuana. Read more.
Announced in October, administrators at the State University of New York at New Paltz have agreed to include in the new 2012-2013 Student Handbook a Good Samaritan Policy, which seeks to protect students from disciplinary action for underage drinking or drug possession when calling for help in a medical emergency. New Paltz SSDP worked to enact this policy during the 2011-2012 school year after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a statewide Good Samaritan Policy in 2011. Read more.
In March, more than 400 students, alumni, and supporters gathered in Denver, Colorado for the 13th Annual International Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference. During the two day event, attendees heard from experts on more than two dozen panels such as “Case Study: Beating Mandatory Student Drug Testing”, “Cannabusiness: From Activist to Entrepreneur”, “Saving Lives By Changing Laws: Good Samaritan/Medical Amnesty Policies” and “Just Say Know: Reality Based Drug Education”, to name a few. We were proud to have a stellar line up of keynote speakers as well, including Steve DeAngelo (Harborside Health Center), Rick Doblin (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), and Ethan Nadelmann (Drug Policy Alliance). Additionally, we recognized outstanding achievements with an awards ceremony, and later attendees danced the night away with special performances from musically inclined students and alumni. Read more.
5. Getting presidential candidates on the record.
In January, dozens of SSDP members took over New Hampshire before the primary, attending the College Convention and several other events across the state. Within the span of a few days, we were able to capture videos of all GOP presidential candidates answering (or hilariously dodging) our questions about their stances on drug policy issues. Read more.
6. Confronting the sole Congressional voice against medical marijuana.
As we saw this year, the DEA continues to raid patients, doctors and state-authorized medical marijuana dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal. To stop these raids, leading Members of Congress offered an amendment to the Justice Department spending bill to block the DEA from raiding patients, doctors and medical marijuana dispensaries in medical marijuana states. The amendment was debated on May 9, 2012 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, despite many strong statements by members of Congress in support, the Amendment was defeated in a roll-call vote. Only one member stood up to defend the raids, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Wolf, nearly hysterical, brought up almost every myth about marijuana. He even suggested that medical marijuana laws should be compared to laws that would allow sexual trafficking in children! SSDP, in the long, honorable tradition of world-wide student activism, went to his home turf of Leesburg, VA to call out Rep. Wolf to his constituents and to confront him at the Fourth of July parade as he was campaigning for re-election to a 17th term. Read more.
7. Refining our brand.
Also in 2012, we announced a new logo! With an emphasis on “sensible”, all of our materials have been redesigned with this new sleeker look. Special thanks to Saul Fougnier for lending his talents to this and many other images for us. Read more.
8. Organizing five successful regional conferences.
During the fall 2012 semester, we organized regional conferences in the following regions: Northeast (hosted by Brown University SSDP), Mid-Atlantic (hosted by Georgia State University SSDP), Mountain Plains (hosted by University of Colorado, Boulder SSDP), Midwest (hosted by University of Michigan, Ann Arbor SSDP), and Florida/Southeast (hosted by University of South Florida SSDP).
9. Participating in the United Nations Thematic Debate on Drugs and Crime.
Our own Mahogany Wright writes about her experience: “On June 26th, 2012, I had the honor of attending the United Nations Thematic Debate on Drugs and Crime as a Threat to Development. As the newly elected Columbia University Chapter Vice President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), I knew the insight gained from a meeting such as this would be invaluable for serving my term.” Read more here and here.
10. Calling out the drug czar.
In July, several SSDP staff members attended an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies with R. Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Devon Tackels, one of our Outreach Directors, asked a remarkably pointed question straight to the top dog, calling him out on his statement that the war on drugs has ended, yet the 60,000 (and rising) death toll in Mexico certainly still looks like war. Kerlikowske responded that this is a complex criminal problem that doesn’t end with the fight against drugs, but like most of his answers did not elaborate into details. Watch Devon’s exchange with the Drug Czar on YouTube. Read more.
11. Bolstering our presence on social media.
This year, our online network has continued to grow. We are proud to have achieved this important objective with over 31,000 likes on our Facebook page. Additionally, our YouTube channel has received over 1.5 million views!
12. Launching our Sensible Membership program.
This year we launched our Sensible Membership program. To date, we have received more than $10,000 in recurring donations, so that puts us a little more than half way toward our goal of $20,000. Join today.
Our work would not be possible without financial support provided by people like you, who care about ending the destructive war on drugs.