Your SSDP 2020 Wrapped: Our Top Ten of 2020

In spite of the many challenges of 2020, Students for Sensible Drug Policy made some incredible accomplishments this year. Through the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic, upending of campus life, and rapid shifts in change-making strategies, we’ve seen our network members step up and reinvent the ways we organize. SSDP’s vision of a post-prohibition future where safety, justice, and education are prioritized in drug policy is closer every day. There’s no better time than right now to help us make 2021 even bigger by making a year-end gift. Your tax-deductible gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar until we reach our $55,000 goal.

Check out this list of our favorite highlights of 2020, then click over to our donation page to show your support for more student-powered reforms in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Held the first-ever virtual drug policy conference

After canceling our in-person conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we successfully transitioned our conference to a virtual one. We brought together hundreds of SSDP members, alumni, and allies across the globe for three days of cutting-edge education content and a virtual lobby day. Due to its virtual nature, we were able to bring together more people from around the world than ever before. You can view the recorded sessions on our Youtube page here

  1. Lobbied Congress for the MORE Act and a federal response to police brutality

In 2020, SSDPers lobbied 262 congresspeople to vote in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act. The MORE Act would deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, effectively decriminalizing marijuana, and would expunge the records of individuals with prior marijuana convictions. The MORE Act passed in the house, but its success hinges on the outcome of the Georgia run-off elections.  To lobby your officials through our action page, click here. To get involved with Georgia GOTV efforts, click here. On our virtual lobby day, we advocated for a comprehensive Federal response to police brutality. 

  1. Made the youth voice heard at the United Nations

SSDP Team and student Board members attended the 63rd Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna this March. The Paradigma Coalition- made up of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Students for Sensible Drug Policy International, and Youthrise led a side event titled “Young People Use Drugs – Bridging the Gap Between Human Rights and Key Affected Populations.” After a year of delay, the UN finally made the decision to deschedule cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Conventions on Narcotic Drugs and recognize the medicinal benefits of cannabis on December 2nd of 2020. 

  1. Provided grassroots support to winning ballot initiatives for cannabis legalization, drug decriminalization, and psilocybin therapy

SSDPers in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota provided grassroots support for the adult-use and medical cannabis initiatives on the ballot in those states. SSDPers in Oregon worked on and provided grassroots support for the drug decriminalization ballot initiative and the psilocybin therapy ballot initiative. These were stunning successes prove after decades of fighting, we have shifted to a new paradigm where drug use is treated as a public health issue and not a criminal one.

  1. Launched our United States Policy Council

The U.S. Policy Council is composed of SSDP students, youth members, staff, and alumni members who have committed to advance SSDP’s policy agenda through providing analysis, resources, and mentorship to SSDP chapter members. The U.S. Policy Council is SSDP’s member-driven policy arm on U.S. policy issues, which supports members in advocacy from the campus to the federal level. Policy Council members lead the work on our issue groups, which include federal cannabis policy reform, drug decriminalization, opioid crisis response and policy reform, psychedelic policy reform, scientific research, and UN advocacy. 

  1. Provided mentorship through our Psychedelic Career Development Pipeline

The Psychedelic Pipeline prepares SSDPers to become psychedelic therapists, integration coaches, researchers, and support personnel, with a deliberate focus on providing access to people of color. The mentorship component to this program connects SSDPers to professionals in the emerging psychedelic fields who advise on and facilitate their mentees’ career development based on their knowledge and experience. The Pipeline also provides resources for members interested in all aspects of the field, including professional skill sets beyond therapy and research that are necessary for the field to develop and thrive.

  1. Trained student educators through our Just Say Know Drug Education Program

Just Say Know is our groundbreaking peer-to-peer drug education program led by our staff psychologist Vilmarie Narloch, PsyD., with expertise in youth drug education, prevention, and treatment. Just Say Know empowers students by providing evidence-based drug information, teaching students to recognize and address dangerous behaviors and unhealthy attitudes, and promoting prosocial and harm reduction oriented behaviors and attitudes. The full program includes 12 foundational training modules for peer educators and more than 20 modules on the drugs most widely used by young people including alcohol, cannabis, MDMA, and Adderall. Alongside the 151 members certified or seeking certification in this rigorous program, anyone interested in making their community safer is able to access and deliver high-quality drug education.

  1. Welcomed one new full-time staff member and four new interns

SSDP welcomed Carmen Jackman to the team this December. As Development Associate, Carmen provides support to SSDP’s fundraising efforts. Carmen also co-chairs SSDP’s Intersectionality Committee. SSDP also welcomed to the team Abhi Dewan, Ruby Lawlor, Rory O’Brien, and Beatrix Vas. As U.S. Federal Liaison, Abhi coordinated SSDP’s US Federal advocacy work. As Global Strategic Development Intern, Beatrix developed and implemented strategies to grow the capacity of the Global Program and assess new opportunities for growth and expansion. As Global Programs Intern, Ruby Lawlor implemented training and workshops for the Global Network, particularly the African Network. Ruby also supports the Global Team members in the process of opening our Vienna office by taking on some of their programmatic tasks. As Digital Communications Intern, Rory O’Brien coordinates SSDP’s digital communications, social media, and digital strategy.

  1. Opened an office in Vienna

SSDP opened its International Office in Vienna, Austria. This historic move is an important step in the restructuring of SSDP’s Global Programs and will help SSDP’s operations become more reflective of the network’s global nature. Our new office is located at Impact Hub Vienna, an inspirational and diverse community of global changemakers. From there, Director of SSDP International Róisín Downes ‘15 and Global Policy and Development Consultant Orsi Feher ‘16 will continue to support our network’s activities and expand our reach outside of the United States.

  1. Grew the Sensible Society to over 400 members… and counting!

Our monthly donor club provides year-round support for SSDP’s operations and started with a modest but committed 50 members in 2014. Today, the Sensible Society boasts more than 400 alumni, supporters, students, foundations, and business leaders. Join them by starting a monthly donation of $25 or more today!

We’re proud of what SSDP accomplished this year, and you should be proud too, because your gifts make our work possible. SSDP is a grassroots organization supported by individuals, small businesses, family foundations, and fellow non-profits — people just like you.

Thank you for your support.