Written by Tristan Harris ‘21, SSDP Kentucky Chapter Leader
*Editor’s Note: Tristan is based out of the University of Pikeville, but all Kentuckians are welcome! To get connected, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard about SSDP through the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies site, I clicked on the link and explored the page.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start an SSDP chapter?
Being from Kentucky, we lag in policy reform. Our region is one of the poorest in the United States, and has been affected by the war on drugs in a unique way. I consider the opportunity through SSDP to be a step in the path to making change happen in a state that very much is in need.
What has the reception been like in your community? From friends, community members, advocates, etc.
It is very much split; the youth sees need for change and many of the older folks don’t want to educate themselves on how we can manifest a better future through different policies. As time progresses, I feel that SSDP Kentucky can spread the message of SSDP and promote growth and change!
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for this year?
I am currently working on a Narcan awareness campaign so that our peers can have the ability to impact the life of someone in need. I see SSDP Kentucky holding protest for the release of those in the region with nonviolent drug offenses.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting your chapter so far?
I don’t think the process has been overall challenging, as not many students are on campus during the summer months. It will be tasking to gain large numbers in the beginning.
What is the most rewarding part?
Knowing that SSDP Kentucky can make an impact, and feeling that this work is for those of the Appalachian region.
What are you most excited about for your community/state/region right now?
Kentucky has two House members, Attica Scott and Nima Kulkarni, who are strong advocates for legalization of cannabis and are bringing new bills to the table. On a community level, more programs within eastern Kentucky have been able to return to normal function, such as the Dream Center and the prison religious programs.
What is your vision for your involvement in SSDP and the drug policy reform movement? What are you hoping to see 4 or 5 years out?
I hope to have an impact on the legalization of cannabis at least on a medicinal level, if not a recreational level in the state of KY. As well as bringing pharmacological-assisted psychotherapy to the region. In four to five years, I would like to see a more social recovery model in place for those affected by current policy and expungement for those already affected.