SSDP made incredible strides in 2017. The world is waking up to the failures of drug prohibition, and students are leading the way towards reform and working harder than ever to replace the War on Drugs with policies rooted in compassion, liberty, and justice. From campus to the state house, from Portland to Bangkok, millennials are killing the drug war.
And because this is one thing millennials really ought to kill, your year-end gift of any amount will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a group of dedicated donors
Check out this list of our favorite highlights of 2017, then click over to our donation page to show your support for even more student-powered reforms in 2018 with your year-end gift.
1. Grew SSDP’s global reach to 27 countries on all 6 habitable continents
SSDP now boasts 5,000 student members in hundreds of chapters across the globe. Our international presence has grown exponentially over the last few years, and we’re proud to have students advocating for sensible drug policies in Austria, Bolivia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Liberia, India, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and the United States.
2. Trained hundreds of student activists at SSDP2017 in Portland
#SSDP2017 was celebrated by students and supporters alike as our best conference yet. 350 SSDPers gathered in Portland, Oregon to attend 37 galvanizing sessions and plenaries designed, planned, selected, and led by students and alumni. See you at #SSDP2018 in Baltimore!
3. Influenced cannabis policy in several states
SSDPers have been instrumental in the fight to reform cannabis laws for nearly 20 years, and this year we continued to have incredible influence on policy change and implementation in several states. In Massachusetts, SSDP alum Shaleen Title ‘02 was appointed to the Cannabis Control Commission this year, and our student members in Boston worked with allies to push back against proposed rollbacks of the equity clauses in Question 4. Activists allied with the Black and Latino Caucuses were able to get the House to adopt a consolidated equity amendment. In Arizona, our chapter VP at Arizona State University was involved in a Superior Court case ruling that banning medical cannabis on campus in Arizona is unconstitutional. In Nevada, our chapters have launched a petition calling on the Governor to pardon people incarcerated for marijuana possession, which has over 2,000 signers. Plus, SSDP alumni continue to be influential leaders in cannabis policy, industry, and research across the United States.
4. Saved lives by expanding medical amnesty policies and providing harm reduction resources on campus
Harm reduction on campus and beyond continues to be a top priority for our student members as overdose rates continue rising for opioids and other drugs. Our chapters at Hamline University, Chapman University and others have successfully advocated for campus safety officers and RAs to carry and be trained to use Naloxone to prevent overdoses. UT Austin implemented a Harm Reduction Hotline for UT students and the surrounding community to access free naloxone, fentanyl testing strips, and harm reduction advice. Reed College SSDP is setting up a syringe disposals program that they hope to expand to all restrooms on campus. Yale University SSDP expanded their campus medical amnesty policy to include drugs other than alcohol, and in India, Jindal Global Law School approved the first campus medical amnesty policy developed by an SSDP chapter outside the US. In Ireland, University College Cork spent more than 200 hours conducting harm reduction services at music festivals and on campus.
5. Hosted the first International Youth Drug Strategies Convening in Bangkok, Thailand
In January, 26 youth leaders from 21 countries gathered in Bangkok, Thailand for a convening organized by SSDP and our global allies, bringing together some of the sharpest young minds in drug policy and human rights advocacy for a week of networking and skills-building workshops. The convening also served as a platform for debate and discussion around what young people can do to amplify our voices at the international level, and how activists can work together as a global youth coalition to achieve our goals.
6. Improved and expanded our Just Say Know peer education program
We launched the second edition of the Just Say Know training curriculum with three new lessons, using feedback from students who participated in the first edition last year. Our Just Say Know interns Sarah and James also retooled the program for a younger audience, and are currently presenting the program to 8th and 11th grade students in a Denver public school.
7. Growing the team with new staff members
We continued growing our permanent staff team with the addition of two outstanding SSDP alumni to the Outreach Team. Luis Montoya ‘16 and Elise Szabo ‘14 joined the team in June. Elise supports students in the Pacific region, while Luis has taken over the Southeast and Southwest regions. We also welcomed four interns this year: James Gould ‘15 and Sarah Diem ‘15 supported the Just Say Know peer drug education program, while Arturo Lua Castillo ‘16 worked on Latin American drug policy issues and Amy Hildebrand ‘16 focused on drug policy in Illinois.
8. Revamped our website with new tools and a fresh look
In early 2017, we unveiled a substantial redesign of ssdp.org with an updated look and feel. The new website better highlights students and their work, our rapidly expanding international network, and the opportunities for activists and supporters to get involved. Most importantly, the site offers students more opportunities to directly shape our work. Our new campaign resources folders invite students to contribute to policy change toolkits and upload and share their own resources created for campus change campaigns.
9. Presented the CAT at Netroots Nation
Currently in its third year of operation, our custom-built Chapter Activity Tracker (CAT) continues to revolutionize student engagement in SSDP’s mission and reveal patterns about student campaigns and activities across the SSDP network. The CAT’s influence is spreading beyond SSDP and even beyond drug policy: the open-source software is being used by our friends at Dancesafe and was presented at the Netroots Nation conference at August 2017 as a groundbreaking tool to gamify activism, to overwhelmingly positive feedback.
10. Grew the Sensible Society and Alumni Association to over 300 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 300 alumni, supporters, students, foundations, and business leaders. Join them by starting a monthly donation of $25 or more today!