On stands now is the October 2011 issue of High Times magazine with our annual feature listing the top 20 schools for marijuana activism, here are some highlights, get yourself a copy to read the full article.
1. Northern Illinois University– Last year NIU’s SSDP chapter was labeled by school officials to be “political” and therefore ineligible to receive funding or official recognition as a student organization. With help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the ACLU and SSDP’s board of directors, the chapter gained official recognition as well as changed an unconstitutional school policy.2. Northeastern University – Northeastern’s SSDP chapter is responsible for networking with other Massachusetts chapters to affect state and local politics. This included working for the passage of a medical marijuana bill as well as for a full legalization bill. 3. Northern Virginia Community College – Notable achievements of this SSDP chapter include organizing the DC Marijuana March, as well as arranging phone-banking parties resulting in thousands of calls made to Californians asking for their support of Prop 19. 4. University of Oregon – This SSDP chapter worked relentlessly to try to pass Measure 74 in Oregon last year, which would have established state-compliant dispensaries, thus increasing safe access for patients. 5. Columbia University – Members from Columbia’s SSDP chapter have remained busy this year whether it’s from making phone calls in support of Prop 19 in California, supporting the advancement of local harm-reduction programs such as needle exchanges, or by organizing a media response highlighting the waste of resources law enforcement officials spent pursuing Operation Ivy League, a drug bust which resulted in the arrests of 5 undergraduates. 6. Utah State University – With only a year under their belt, this SSDP chapter was recognized by USU as the “best new student organization”. They have hosted a number of campus events including a “Know Your Rights” educational event, and have also been spearheading the movement to make possession of marijuana the lowest priority for law enforcement in Salt Lake City. 7. Virginia Commonwealth University – Named an “Outstanding Chapter” at this years SSDP’s National Conference. Over their winter break, this chapter trained students and organized a lobby day in Richmond to support HB 1443, a bill proposing the decriminalization of marijuana. They have also made monumental leaps in college drug education by hosting a monthly educational series called “Just Say Know”, which offers unbiased information about different illicit and licit drugs, grounded in science and put on in conjunction with university public-health administrators. 8. University of Michigan – The current focus of this chapter is to make school officials acknowledge the rights of medical marijuana patients. Also this past year, New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was featured for a discussion with students on issues concerning drug policy reform. 9. University of Connecticut – Having the former chapter president elected as president of the university’s student government is one way to secure the power of change and to build allies. Along with their allies, the chapter helped pass a resolution calling for the support of a decriminalization of marijuana bill that is making it’s way through the Connecticut Statehouse. The chapter has also been involved in coordinating and training students to lobby on the issue of medical marijuana and on a bill that increased penalties for drug possession if in close proximity to a school. 10. Roosevelt University – Accomplishments this past year include the creation of a forum called “The Controversies of Drugs” which related how the Drug War affects the city of Chicago. The forum highlighted the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty and the disproportionate incarceration rates of minorities. 11. University of Maine – For being the only SSDP chapter in Maine, the members of UMF have certainly made a name for themselves as political activists. This past year, the chapter sent members to testify before the Committee on Public Safety and Criminal Justice in support of the bill calling for the legalization of marijuana. Members also participated in the infiltration of the Conservative Political Action Conference, as well in the Lobby Day at SSDP’s National Conference this past March. 12. San Jose State University – The members of this chapter were on the forefront of changing drug policy in California by working to build support for Prop 19. They consistently collected signatures and registered voters, and kept citizens educated on the issue. They also opened up the debate over drug policy reform on campus by hosting a debate featuring a former San Jose police chief who now is in favor of legalization. 13. West Chester University– This infant SSDP chapter received the “Rising Star Chapter” Award at this year’s National Conference due to their public advocacy efforts. Issues they fought for included a statewide medical marijuana law, as well as a “medical amnesty law” which seeks to save lives by protecting those who call authorities for medical help during an overdose situation. The WCU chapter has also utilized SSDP’s AMPLIFY project by tabling at multiple shows, as well as hosting their own benefit show featuring Roots of Creation. 14. Los Angeles City College – The members of this chapter have made a name for themselves by their ability to build coalitions on their campus and within their community. They worked tirelessly in support of Prop 19, specifically by collecting signatures and reaching out to local communities by voicing the harms caused by marijuana prohibition. 15. Florida State University – Being located in the capital of Florida has given this chapter the optimal ability to get involved in state politics. Members have been intimately involved in the statewide campaign for the passage of medical marijuana as well of other drug policy reform movements. One of their most notable accomplishments though has been the transition of leadership. A whole new set of activists have been recruited and are ready to fight for reform. 16. Lewis and Clark College – This chapter has set the example of being speedy and on top of what needs to get done. The chapter was up and running within a week, and has made impressive strides since, including collecting signatures for the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act of 2011. 17. Emerson College – Although this chapter has not received official school recognition, the members have been very actively involved on and off campus by holding regular events and meetings on campus, as well as participating in the Boston Freedom Rally and the Boston Pride Parade. Future plans including working with school officials to change school policy aimed at reducing penalties for violations of on-campus marijuana possession. 18. University of Northern Colorado – Already having made a name for itself, this chapter has big plans for this coming year. The chapter’s focus will be on protecting the rights of medical marijuana patients, reducing the prison population, and supporting increased research on psychedelics. 19. Rutgers University – Chapter members led the “Sensible New Brunswick” campaign, which sought to pass a referendum making adult possession of marijuana the lowest-priority issue for police in New Brusnswick, NJ. The referendum did not end up making it on the ballot, but it has now become a political issue in the state. RU has also hosted a number of events featuring guest speakers such as Tim Datig from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Rick Cusick, High Time’s associate publisher. 20. Kent State University – KSU took an organizing role when they hosted the Mid-west Regional Conference last fall. Also impressive is the former members unrelenting commitment to SSDP. Angel Gagliardi, former chapter leader, now holds the volunteer position of state coordinator for Ohio, which keeps all of the Ohio chapters communicating and working together. Furthermore, Chris Wallis now serves as Project Coordinator for the AMPLIFY project, which connects people and artists all over the country to drug policy reform through live music.