I’m so pleased to announce our newest chapter, in my home state of Virginia, George Mason University! Chapter founder and leader David Gibrael is not just a sensible young person fighting to end this senseless war; he’s also a Marine Corps veteran. He was a rifleman in the 1st Battalion 9th Marines and served one tour in Afghanistan in 2011. For the chapter’s first meeting, I visited GMU with University of Colorado Law School SSDP alum (and now Legislative Analyst for Marijuana Policy Project) Rachelle Yeung to talk to the new chapter about the lobbying process and how they can advocate for reform (pictured below). After the meeting, I spoke with David about his passion for ending the drug war and about his vision for the GMU chapter; How did you hear about SSDP? I read about SSDP when I was researching libertarian student organizations and organizations for reforming drug policy. Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter? I started becoming interested in politics when I started reading about libertarianism, which I became interested in after my deployment to Afghanistan when I was in the Marine Corps. One of the subjects I came across when reading about libertarianism was ending the war on drugs. At first it seemed like a radical idea, but after researching the facts and realizing the cost, damage, and infringement on individual liberty that the drug war caused, I not only became sympathetic to the cause, but also passionate about it. When I got out of the Marine Corps and enrolled in George Mason University, I noticed that we didn’t have an SSDP chapter yet, so I decided to start one so I could aid the cause for liberty.
The GMU SSDP chapter receiving lobbying training from SSDP National staff at their first on-campus meeting
What has the reception been like on campus so far? So far the reception hasn’t been exceptionally good or bad. Some people do not fully understand the mission of the organization, others expressed that it was too radical, and a few understand and are in full support. What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester? The main things that I am planning on doing are lobbying to the administration of GMU to equalize the penalties for cannabis with the penalties for alcohol, and to lobby to state officials about legalizing cannabis in Virginia. What has been the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far? The most challenging part of my experience so far is recruiting members since this is my first semester at GMU. What has been the most rewarding part? The most rewarding part is knowing that I have the chance to make a difference for the cause of liberty in Virginia. What are you most excited about for your chapter right now? I’m excited about the possibility that I will be part of history by getting the process started for legalizing cannabis in Virginia. What is your vision for GMU SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years? My vision for GMU SSDP will be focused on making a change in policy in the school and in Virginia. In the future I hope that our chapter will continue to lobby for sensible policies in both the school, the state, and further down the road, on the federal level. — Are you a student at George Mason? Get involved!