Here’s to 23 years of Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Share This!
This entry has been published on October 1, 2021 and may be out of date.

SSDP is celebrating our 23rd birthday this month, will you celebrate with us today? 

23 years ago, the drug policy movement was in a much different place. In the fall of 1996, members of the Student Drug Reform Movement (SDRM) began to chat over the internet using a Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet) discussion page. In 1997, the Rochester Cannabis Coalition (RCC) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) applied to become the first official student organization dedicated to fighting back against the War on Drugs. Rochester Institute denied RCC’s application and ultimately expelled the lead organizer, Shea Gunther ’98, who would go on to become an SSDP founder. On October 1, 1998, RIT students held an organizing meeting and decided to identify themselves as being for something positive, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy was officially named.  

Since then, we’ve expanded our presence to more than 300 campuses in 32 countries and have mobilized tens of thousands of young people and our team is the largest it has ever been with nine staff members and 6 contractors. Among our greatest accomplishments in the last 23 years include repealing the United States Higher Education Act, which denied federal financial aid to students with drug convictions on their criminal record; providing instrumental grassroots support to every marijuana legalization campaign in the United States to date; successfully campaigning to legalize hemp for industrial and medical purposes in Ghana; becoming the first youth-led drug policy organization to successfully gain Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council through which we can advise the United Nations Commission on Narcotic drugs; passing dozens of campus Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty policies that save the lives of young people; creating and implementing Just Say Know, an evidenced-based Peer Drug Education Program; and launching the Psychedelic Career Development Pipeline

Our alumni have graduated from SSDP to become regulators, leaders of industry, elected officials, and advocates at the forefront of every major drug policy fight ongoing today. SSDP has proven to be the training ground for change makers, and continues to springboard the leaders of tomorrow through skills trainings, direct support for campaigns, and by providing the space to have honest conversations about drugs and drug policy. 

Of course, these incredible achievements would not have been possible if it weren’t for the generous gifts we receive from our supporters like you. We thank you so much for supporting young people and our vision of a world where drug policies are rooted in compassion, public health, science, and liberty. 

We’re looking forward to another big year for SSDP in 2022, but we need your help to make as big an impact as possible. Will you help us celebrate our 23rd birthday by making a gift today?