Written by Evan Hudson ‘21, Dubuque, Iowa SSDP Ambassador
How did you hear about SSDP?
I’ve been aware of SSDP’s work since high school, but only recently looked into getting involved as an extension of my work in harm reduction.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start an SSDP Ambassadorship?
I was inspired to become an SSDP Ambassador by my desire to help end the unjust War on Drugs and work towards a more equitable and just world where resources are devoted to compassionate care instead of punitive measures like incarceration.
What has the reception been like in your community? From friends, community members, advocates, etc.
I live in Dubuque, IA, which is a city where progressive issues like decriminalization don’t traditionally get a lot of traction. It is a place characterized by economic and racial inequality. However, the local government is aware of these issues and seems to be willing to pursue new solutions to these old problems.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for this year?
In an effort to address racial inequality, the local Human Rights Commission outlined a plan containing different possible areas of focus for the Dubuque civic government. One of these was decriminalization of possession of personal amounts of marijuana. This was driven by the recognition that people of color are arrested for marijuana possession at a disproportionate rate. I’d really like to help this proposition get turned into a law or civic ordinance. On a personal level, I look forward to the coalition-building work this will entail because I enjoy meeting like-minded people.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting your Ambassadorship so far?
The most challenging part of becoming an ambassador thus far is balancing this work with my other obligations. I’m currently getting my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and the workload can be a bit heavy at times. I’m also starting to see that sometimes elected officials aren’t necessarily in a rush to return emails from the weed legalization guy.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part of becoming an ambassador is the idea that I might be able to contribute to making my community a better place!
What are you most excited about for your community/state/region right now?
In terms of what I’m excited about in Iowa right now- I think there is a lot of great community-building going on and some really cool organizations developed out of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, largely led by young people. I think the Iowa Freedom Riders organization in Iowa City is an inspiration, especially the way they are engaging with local government.
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’m an optimist, so I’m hoping that in 4 years marijuana and all plant medicines are legalized at the federal level. Following the idea of “think globally, act locally” I’d like to work towards that goal by helping Dubuque to become the first city in Iowa to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana.