Written by Jack Quon ’19, Chapter Leader of SSDP Buffalo
How did you hear about SSDP?
I was referred to SSDP by Charleen from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) , in response to my questions about young people in the psychedelic community.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
I thought that since my current education is broad, I should be well-educated in widely relevant areas of drug policy, treatment, and harm reduction. Starting an SSDP chapter would motivate me, and would foster a space for education in my community.
What has the reception been from people you have told about SSDP?
After hearing about the mission of SSDP, most people have been enthusiastic about the organization of a new chapter and want to know more about me, my background, and why I want to be involved in drug policy.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for the fall?
I want to hold my first chapter meetings in the Fall, and hopefully we can get the ball rolling from there. I have ambitious goals for the chapter, and hope to find like-minded people to create a well-rounded conversation in group meetings.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
Recruiting people to be part of the chapter is a difficult part of the work. This is mostly because I’ve never organized this way before. However, it occurs to me that my belief in SSDP’s mission creates a stronger base for action than any inaction caused by my lack of experience.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part is knowing that I have an organization standing behind me— one that’s aligned with my goals, mindset, and ideas for the future of drug policy.
What are you most excited about for your neighborhood, city, or state right now?
The area I live in seems to be warming up to the idea of sensible drug policy. There are many who suffer from drug addiction, and more conversations yield the same outcome: this isn’t an issue with a faulty individual, but rather, the inadequacies of the system we live in. If we can find ways to treat people accordingly, we can drop incarceration rates and empower people to heal with tools and resources.
What is your vision for your SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
The mission underpinning our work is born out of common sense— criminalization does not work. I want to see SSDP as a leader in drug policy reform at the campus, city, state, and federal levels. My goal is to get the Buffalo Area, and nearby chapters, recognized as a vehicle for change in the locale. I want to hear stories of people changing their attitudes about drug use by implementing a strong peer education program which will outlast myself.