I am thrilled to introduce the new chapter leaders of SSDP at University of California Santa Barbara, Cole Garcia and Ashcon Minoiefar. Cole is a second year studying Pharmacology with an emphasis on Neuroscience. Ashcon is a third year studying History of Public Policy.
The two of them come to Students for Sensible Drug Policy with very different interests, but share a dedication to educating others about drugs, and reforming drug policy on campus to be safer and more sensible.
Cole has been aware of the issues related to drug policy and drug abuse since high school, and has since become extremely passionate about doing something for society and the world. “SSDP adds a different perspective from my coursework – it’s more about people and policies, and it’s a different way to make an impact other than with science.” For Ashcon, it all began when he started looking into Good Samaritan Policies. A couple of months ago, his fraternity made a decision to call an ambulance because someone overdosed on alcohol. The school ended up sanctioning the fraternity. “Our brothers got mad at the person who called the ambulance, and I could see them deciding that they would never do that again, which was quite sad.”
UC Santa Barbara is already quite progressive when it comes to the harm reduction programs in place aimed at student alcohol and drug use. They have a peer education program called “Life of the Party,” which hosts peer education workshops under the drug and alcohol program at UCSB. However, because they are affiliated with the school, they don’t lobby for policy change, a gap that SSDP will be able to fill.
To Cole, “a sensible drug policy would take into account every factor of a substance. From a scientific standpoint, it would base substances more on the actual effects that they have, and the researched harms and negative consequences. It would not be based on private interests. A sensible drug policy would really take into account all of the effects that would occur after the policy. For instance, kegs were banned in the ‘90s at UCSB, and it resulted in people turning to liquors, because kegs added liability. Sensible drug policy would be based off of the real consequences of policy, rather than what people should or shouldn’t be doing.”
For Ashcon, “ Sensible drug policy puts the students’ safety first, and deals with liability later, because student safety is more important. I completely understand the need for an institution to be thinking about liability, but that’s not always beneficial for either party. The school may be safe from liability, but it harms the student, because it backs them into a corner where they feel like they can’t reach out. Our current drug policy assumes that we can make people not drink, if we punish them enough, or even educate enough, and sensible drug policy doesn’t attempt to try to pretend that people won’t have the desire to do substances or drink. Substance use is one of the oldest things in human history. Alcohol and drug use, is the oldest form of recreation. Modern morality kind of presumes that, ‘If I don’t use drugs or drink, I can make everyone else do that too.’”
Outside of SSDP, Cole loves to cook. His specialty is Asian dishes, especially stir fry and different kinds of rice bowls, like teriyaki. Ashcon loves to read epic fantasy series. His favorite is called The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.