Meet Chris Strahan, the founder of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Oregon State University. He is a sophomore studying Fermentation Science.
“I decided to get involved with Students for Sensible Drug Policy because there’s a chance to do something for the actual local community, people in Corvallis who are affected by things like drug abuse. So I thought starting a chapter would be a great way to get involved and help the local area, along with promoting discussion about local policies.” One example is the Good Samaritan Policy, which passed last year in Oregon, Washington and 16 other states. Students from Oregon State University, Lane Community College, and Portland State University gave student testimonies. “That’s honestly one of the most important laws you can have regarding drug use, giving people a safe way out, so that if they feel like they’re in danger, they can report themselves or a friend for help without legal consequences. That can help save a lot of people’s lives.”
Chris is also interested in the subtle ways in which people are affected by the War on Drugs. “Drug users live with a stigma. They’re under constant stress and hiding themselves, and it doesn’t have to be that way. If we promote open discussion and responsible education, everyone would benefit. Drug users would feel like they’re less alienated, and people in general would feel safer.”
Campus reception has been positive. Within a week, Chris recruited the 5 members needed to become an established chapter. He plans to organize regular volunteer opportunities with the local homeless youth shelter. “I hope to make a big enough splash with the group and find other people who want to help out. I can’t promote discussion and policy change by myself. I want as many people to join as possible, because I think drug users and non drug users can all benefit from a healthy discussion about responsible drug use and how drug use affects us. Especially on campus, where everyone probably knows someone who did something awful on alcohol or passed out somewhere. I think drug use affects people more than they realize.”
To aspiring drug policy activists he says, “Don’t worry about meeting any pre-requisite experience, if it’s something you want to do then jump into it.”
Outside of SSDP, Chris hosts a weekly radio program at 3 in the morning.