My name is Martin Condon, 26 years old, father of two daughters, a full-time student & activist. Over the last number of years, I have been victimised in a number of ways by the War on Drugs. The latest of these incidents has denied me the opportunity to travel to the US for SSDP 2016 and UNGASS due to a number of convictions for possession of cannabis (none of which exceeded €50 of value). I now have to supply numerous files from local gardai and courts about my convictions and then plead my case with a counsellor at the US embassy in Dublin just to have my case referred to homeland security to be considered for a waiver of my denial of authorization to travel. Once referred to homeland security it’s expected to take up to 6 months for processing with no chance of speeding up the process for any reason. Altogether it would take over 7 months to complete all this plus the added expense of the files from the courts which will cost €120 on top of the €160 for the appointment at the US embassy for the visa. I cannot head on the trip to the SSDP conference on Friday 15th of April and the flights which have been paid for now go to waste (€600+ down the drain). This also affected me in other ways, ways in which I do not feel totally comfortable talking about with people . I battle with myself over the decisions I have made which landed me in this position. I begin to wish I never consumed cannabis or wishing that when I did try it I hated it and never tried it again. Wishing that I could just be like others and live a drug-free life or just consume the drugs deemed acceptable by society (alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs). These are things I cannot change. When I tried cannabis for the first time I enjoyed it and continued to consume it since. I was consuming cannabis for almost 2 years when I was first stopped by the law at the age of 17. I had a little bit of hash which I ended up getting summoned to court over and was tried as an adult because I was close enough to 18. This caused me to worry but I really felt like I had done nothing wrong, which I stated to the Judge myself as I didn’t get a solicitor (Lawyer). Luckily, that case was struck out and all my worry was over until I was caught again with cannabis. I paid over €2000 euro in “donations” to charity to keep my name clean of convictions, the largest of these “donations” being €400. Eventually, I decided I was not participating in this game any longer as I really believed what I was doing was not wrong and did not deserve a criminal punishment. Thus, I began my SSDP chapter at Cork Institute of Technology to fight for myself and others who need these laws changed. Every time I was stopped by gardai, summonsed to court, and went to court, it was followed by this battle against myself. This was a heavy weight on me; with my family also against me, I really felt isolated with few people to talk to about how I feel. Knowing that talking to people was not going to get things changed was also a barrier which put me at risk, as in this battle I would be hating on myself, weakening my emotional state to the point of wanting to just give up on life as it gets hard to go on living in such a helpless situation. Luckily I never followed through on any of those moments of madness but instead channelled that energy into campaigning for these laws to be changed. I got the strength to carry on from my kids as they are growing up and will one day have to take on the world, and when they do, I hope it’s not such a bad world as it is now. The war on drugs has created more victims than the drugs themselves and this needs to be addressed ASAP before more lives are lost.