CHAPTER HIGHLIGHT: California State University Long BeachBy Mitchell Colbert ‘10, SSDP Alumnus, San Jose State University In this inaugural issue of the SSDP alumni newsletter, we decided to profile the California State University Long Beach SSDP chapter. CSULB SSDP is a new chapter, just formed this year, yet despite that, the chapter has managed to stay in the top spot for chapter activity points all semester and until recently has maintained double the points of the chapter in second place. Though they are new kids on the block, CSULB SSDP has quickly proven they are a force to be reckoned with and are some real SSDP rockstars. The chapter meets semi-monthly, and their meetings usually have a theme and have drawn a diverse group of guest speakers. In October, they had Nick Morrow, from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), come speak to them about the damage prohibition has done to our society and what LEAP proposes we can do about it. The LEAP event drew a substantial crowd and received press coverage from the Daily 49er, the student newspaper, with a front page story. On November 3rd, they hosted another amazing speaker, Armando Gudiño, the Southern California Policy Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance, who spoke to them about the war on drugs, Mexico’s cartels, and mass incarceration. And on November 10th, the chapter held an educational lobby training session with former Long Beach City Council Member Tonia Reyes Urgana. In addition to these dynamic speaking events, CSULB SSDP is fundraising for their big end-of-semester event, a panel featuring speakers from groups like LEAP, DPA, and potentially some other fields as well. This interdisciplinary panel will be open to the whole campus, and the chapter hopes it will be a great way to end the semester before finals. Down the road, CSULB SSDP hopes to get involved with the 2016 effort to legalize cannabis in California. Additionally, CSULB SSDP has joined UC Davis SSDP’s campaign to pass campus-wide 911 Good Samaritan policies at their schools, and hopefully on other California campuses as well. With any luck, these campus-wide policies will spread to become a state-wide Good Samaritan law like in New Mexico. What advice do these SSDP rockstars have for other chapters? On recruitment – Maryanne Alderson, the president of CSULB SSDP, says they have had great success getting new members during club week and in law classes. On funding – bake sales are an oldie but goodie, always a great way to make a few bucks and nobody minds taking home the leftovers. Maryanne and the rest of CSULB are excited to have joined SSDP’s ranks and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for them.
ALUMNI PROFILE: Steve Rzeppa ‘11By Nick Zettell ‘09, Alumnus, University of Michigan, and President, Midwest Alumni Association
Steven Rzeppa ‘11, an SSDP alumnus, graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Public Policy in 2014. While an undergraduate, his hometown of Trenton, Michigan elected him to City Council. He is passionate about public and community service and has been recognized for his various involvements and activities in the community. Steven currently works for SEIU Healthcare Michigan, the largest healthcare labor union in Michigan and active proponent of the Fight For $15, as a Political and Communications Specialist. He has worked on various political campaigns across southeast Michigan and is currently running for State Representative in Michigan’s 23rd State House district, which includes Trenton and Grosse Ile.
- Years of involvement: 2011-2013
- Current Location/region: Detroit, MI
- Graduation Year: 2014
- Position(s) held in SSDP: Legislative Affairs Director
DRUG POLICY REFORM NEWS ROUNDUPBy Sam Tracy ‘09, SSDP Alumnus, University of Connecticut, President, Northeast Alumni Association, and Former Board Chair The past few months have seen a tidal wave of legislation, court cases, and other developments in drug policy reform all over the globe. There’s been so much that it’s impossible to cover it all in one blurb (a good problem to have!), but here are some of the top highlights: Most recently, the US Senate voted to allow veterans to use medical marijuana in states where it’s legal. This follows years of obstruction in which doctors at the Veterans Administration have been prohibited from recommending marijuana to their patients, even those afflicted with PTSD and other conditions marijuana has been shown to help. While this still requires approval by the House and the President, it marks a major step forward in federal medical marijuana policy. The other major US story is either a tragedy or a victory for reform, depending on whom you ask: earlier this month, Ohioans voted 64-36 to reject Issue 3, which would have legalized both medical and adult use marijuana, but also gave a small group of investors the exclusive right to cultivate cannabis in the state. SSDP, DPA, and MPP all remained neutral on the issue due to the widely maligned oligopoly, while NORML and LEAP reluctantly endorsed it. ResponsibleOhio, which ran the campaign, says it plans to try again in 2016, though there are other local groups with the same goal. America’s neighbors have also made some big strides in the world of marijuana. Up north, Canadians voted in a large majority for the Liberal Party, with Justin Trudeau as the new Prime Minister. Trudeau and his party are strong supporters of taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, and he has already given his justice minister a mandate to legalize cannabis. Down south, Mexico’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that allows a private club to cultivate cannabis for personal use on human rights grounds. Although the ruling only applies to the four people involved, it sets a positive precedent and may help spur legislative action to loosen restrictions on marijuana cultivation (although Mexican President Nieto responded by saying he still opposes legalization, so there’s a lot of work left to be done). Thankfully, recent progress has not been limited to marijuana: Ireland is now moving to create safe injection sites throughout the country, beginning with one in Dublin next year. A first for the country, this is great news for people who use drugs in Ireland, as it will give them a safe place to use drugs under medical supervision, while allowing government officials to connect them with social services and reduce harm. And at the truly international level, there has even been some positive news out of the United Nations. In October, Richard Branson leaked a report signaling UN support for the decriminalization of all drugs. After the leak, the UN pulled back, saying that it was for internal discussion only and not meant as a position of the entire organization. While unclear if this is true or simply backpedaling under pressure, that the UN was taking such a proposal seriously is still cause for celebration. With UNGASS coming up, it will be important for SSDPers and other advocates to keep pushing for policies that reflect the UN’s rhetoric of treating drug abuse as a health issue. That’s all we can fit here, but if you want to stay up to date on the latest drug war news, you can subscribe to This Week in Drugs, a podcast created by me and two fellow SSDPers, Rachelle Yeung ‘11 and Tyler Williams ‘11.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SSDP!SSDP Celebrates 17 Years of Activism with Birthday Parties Across the Country By Melissa Colebank ‘09, SSDP Alumna, College of Charleston Students for Sensible Drug Policy alumni, current students, and supporters joined together to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the first SSDP meeting at Rochester Institute of Technology during the weekend of October 2nd. Fitting to its celebrity status, SSDP had three birthday parties – in Boston, Denver, and Washington, D.C. The Boston area Alumni Association members held an intimate dinner party at a local restaurant on the evening of Friday, October 2, bringing several alumni in touch with current Tufts University chapter members for the first time. The alumni, who ranged in graduation years, were able to share their successes (and failures) with the students while introducing them to the family-like atmosphere that comes with being a part of SSDP. The intimate event helped chapter members build relationships with alumni and gain insight moving forward into the fall term. Also on Friday, October 2, the Mountain Region Alumni Association members held a fundraising event at the prestigious Vincente Sederberg offices sponsored by several major cannabis companies in the area, including: Rachel K. Gillette Attorney, iComply LLC, Green Dot Labs, MassRoots, Good Meds Network, EvoLab, GroundSwell, Terrapin Care Station, Bloomfield Industries Inc, Cannabrand, and Canna Advisors. With more than 85 people in attendance – including current students from the Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and Colorado State University – it was a packed event. Students were provided the opportunity to mingle with current cannabis industry professionals and alumni, both in the cannabis industry and not. No birthday party is complete without a birthday cake, and the cake provided at the Denver birthday party did not disappoint, with fresh berries and mini-cupcakes on the side. The event was a smashing success, raising almost $5,000 for SSDP’s general fund. Finally, as all of the best birthday weekends end, on Sunday, October 4th, Kat Murti hosted a Bottomless Brunch for Liberty in her home in Washington, D.C., a fundraiser for people who hate the drug war but love brunch. The event celebrated how far SSDP and the drug policy reform movement as a whole have come from their humble origins. From winning numerous victories for freedom to rapidly expanding our base of supporters, SSDP has a lot to celebrate. Kat served a full spread of everyone’s brunch favorites and raised around $700 from the 40 attendees. The funds raised at the birthday brunch were donated to SSDP’s Diversity Awareness Reflection and Education committee (SSDP DARE) to continue its work bringing volume to traditionally under-represented voices to the drug policy reform movement.
EVENTSNational SSDP and individual chapters stay busy. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that’s going on, or have a comprehensive list of chapter events, but below is our attempt. This is far from a comprehensive list (since SSDP relies on chapters informing them of activities, which they don’t always do), but it should give you an idea of what SSDP is up to across the nation – and around the world. Help us make this list as comprehensive as possible in the future and let us know of past and upcoming events in your area.
|September 2||NUI Galway SSDP Tabling at Freshers Week||Ireland||International|
|September 12||Arizona State University SSDP tabled at Youth Drug Education event||Prescott, AZ||Southwest|
|September 13||Arizona State University SSDP hosted Back-to-School event for students along with ASU Campus Police and Campus Health Services to have a dialogue about student safety and drug education for students||Tempe, AZ||Southwest|
|September 17-20||Western Kentucky SSDP tabled at The Big To-Do Music Festival||Oakland, KY||Midwest|
|September 19||SSDP tabled at the United We Stand Festival||Los Angeles, CA||Pacific|
|September 20||9/20 Psilocybin Day of Action||Multiple Locations|
|October 3||2015 HIV/AIDS Advocacy Conference||Winston-Salem, NC||Southeast|
|October 14||SSDP Drug Presentation to the Irish Government||Ireland||International|
|October 15||Pot in Politics hosted by University College Cork SSDP||Ireland||International|
|October 17-18||Virginia 2015 Cannabis Conference||Richmond, VA||Mid-Atlantic|
|October 20||Discussion with LEAP hosted by Psychedelic Seminars||College Park, MD||Mid-Atlantic|
|October 27||Veterans March for Cannabis Reform at the Arizona State Capitol||Phoenix, AZ||Southwest|
|October 30||UConn SSDP’s Halloween Hemp Bakesale||Storrs, CT||Northeast|
|November 3||Opioid Overdose Prevention Training: A Harm Reduction Event with AIDS Action Committee||Boston, MA||Northeast|
|November 4||What’s the Deal with Weed in DC? A discussion on the District’s marijuana laws with SSDP alumnus Mike Liszewski||Washington, DC||Mid-Atlantic|
|November 4||Let’s Talk About Medical Marijuana event hosted by Arkansas State University SSDP||Jonesboro, AR||Southeast|
|November 4||Representative Daniel: Medical Amnesty and Ending the War on Drugs hosted by University of Tennessee SSDP||Knoxville, TN||Southeast|
|November 4||Medical Marijuana for Kansas: Discussion and Call to Action||Lawrence, KS||Heartland|
|November 4||University of Denver Law school hosting a lunch talk about marijuana in schools||Denver, CO||Mountain|
|November 7||Day of the Kansas Dead protest in support of medical marijuana||Topeka, KS||Heartland|
|November 7||Harm Reduction Action Center Neighborhood Clean-up||Denver, CO||Mountain|
|November 10||CSU Long Beach hosted a lobbying training event||Long Beach, CA||Pacific|
|November 12||University of Denver Law School networking event||Denver, CO||Mountain|
|November 13||Northwestern University SSDP Benefit Concert and Speak-Out Rally||Evanston, IL||Midwest|
|November 18 – 21||International Drug Policy Reform Conference||Washington, DC|
|November 20 – 21||SSDP’s Model UNGASS at International Drug Policy Reform Conference||Washington, DC|
|April 15-17, 2016||SSDP Conference||Washington, DC|