Your 2021 SSDP Wrapped

Students for Sensible Drug Policy did some amazing things in 2021. Our thoughtful, bright, and impressive young activists made huge strides towards SSDP’s vision of a post-prohibition future where safety, justice, and education are prioritized in drug policy. There’s no better time than right now to help us make 2021 even bigger by making a year-end gift. Your tax-deductible gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar until we reach our $50,000 goal.

  1. Launched our model resolution for drug decriminalization

Students for Sensible Drug Policy has partnered with key stakeholders to develop a model municipal resolutionA resolution to advance sensible drug policy, accompanying ordinances, and a toolkit regarding strategies for implementing both to mobilize local support for full drug decriminalization across the country. In partnership with the Parabola Center, SSDP law student alumni and SSDP’s U.S. Policy Council have drafted a set of documents that would remove multiple municipal criminal codes related to drug possession, use, distribution, cultivation, and other penalties related to drug paraphernalia and testing supplies.

  1. Recruited and matched the second cohort of our Psychedelic Pipeline Career Development program mentees

The Psychedelic Pipeline Career Development program prepares SSDPers to become psychedelic therapists, integration coaches, researchers, and support personnel, with a deliberate focus on providing access to people of color. The mentorship component to this program connects SSDPers to professionals in the emerging psychedelic fields who advise on and facilitate their mentees’ career development based on their knowledge and experience. The Pipeline also provides resources for members interested in all aspects of the field, including professional skill sets beyond therapy and research that are necessary for the field to develop and thrive.

  1. Welcomed our new Executive Director and six new team members– making our most diverse team ever!

SSDP grew our staff this year, by a lot! We welcomed Jason Ortiz ‘08 as Executive Director, brought on Iulia Vatau ‘20 as our Global Fellow for Europe and the UN, and hired Rory O’Brien ‘19, Jacob Plowden ‘15, and Jeremy Sharp ‘12 as Communications Manager, New York State Coordinator, and Pacific Region Coordinator respectively. We also brought on Oriana Mayorga as our Equity Strategist and Mohawk Greene as our web developer. For the first time in our 23-year history, the majority of our team members identify as BIPOC. 

  1. Released a Youth Response to the World Drug Report

SSDP International released a Youth Response to the World Drug Report 2021. Building on the “Share Facts on Drugs, Save Lives” spirit promoted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Response encompasses youth insights into the recent drug market trends and COVID-19 developments.  Particularly, the Response looks in-depth at young people and cannabis risk perceptions, the distinction between legal and illegal markets, as well as harm reduction services during the pandemic.

  1. Held the inaugural General Assembly for SSDP International

At the General Assembly, SSDP international elected their inaugural board of directors, voted to approve their mission, appointed their advisory board, and adopted the new outreach and membership structure.  We are pleased to announce that Eolann Davis ‘19, Iulia Vatau ‘19, Amie Hogan ‘19, and Ewelle Williams ‘17 were elected to the Board. You can read the General Assembly recap here.

  1. Trained peer educators through our first-ever Just Say Know Peer Education Summer Camp

Just Say Know is our groundbreaking peer-to-peer drug education program led by our director of drug education, Vilmarie Fraguada Narloch, PsyD., ‘09 with expertise in youth drug education, prevention, and treatment. Just Say Know empowers students by providing evidence-based drug information, teaching students to recognize and address dangerous behaviors and unhealthy attitudes, and promoting prosocial and harm reduction-oriented behaviors and attitudes. This past summer, we hosted the first-ever Just Say Know Summer Camp pilot program, which involved SSDP certified peer educators presenting Just Say Know training curriculum lessons to a small cohort of members interested in becoming peer educators. Eight SSDPers participated in the pilot, and their experience will inform future iterations of this program.  

  1. Submitted an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in support of the free speech rights of a student (Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.) in partnership with the ACLU

In March, an amicus brief was filed on behalf of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and other student and youth organizations to support a student and her family’s Supreme Court case. In 2017, a Pennsylvania public school student identified as ‘B.L.’ expressed her frustration about not making the varsity cheerleading squad on Snapchat. Despite the app’s reputation and purpose, the image she sent on a Saturday and out of class (including many profanities) was saved and ended up in the hands of school officials. B.L. was swiftly suspended from the junior varsity cheerleading squad for the rest of the year. In 2021, this case made its way to the Supreme Court, and is looking to be one of the most important student speech cases in decades.

The connection to drug policy reform may not be obvious, but if this case goes in the school’s favor, the precedent would result in a major blow and probable chilling effect for student speech rights moving forward. If a public school is able to suspend a student for speech that is off-campus, out of school hours, and outside a school event, then there would be next to no protection for a student who criticizes school or local drug policies, even outside of school hours.  

  1. Launched our campaign to end aerial crop eradication of coca in Colombia

In June, SSDP launched our campaign aimed at Congress, requesting that a provision be added to the federal budget to remove all funding for aerial crop eradication. The practice of spraying poisonous chemicals onto these plants does not take into consideration the environmental damage and the economic harm to indigenous farmers, as well as the ineffectiveness of the policy to reduce the growing of coca. As part of the launch, we are circulating a sign-on letter for organizations and SSDP chapters to urge Congress to eliminate funding for aerial crop eradication in Colombia on the basis of environmental justice, human rights, public health, and sensible drug policy.

  1. Brought together over 300 people for Sensible2021: The Virtual Drug Policy Conference

In April, over 300 SSDP members, alumni, and allies gathered virtually for 11 sessions, two keynotes, three networking sessions, an awards ceremony, and a virtual dance party. Sensible2021: The Virtual Drug Policy Conference covered topics from the US Treatment Industrial Complex, to drug use and religion, to envisioning a post-prohibition future, and more. It was the largest virtual drug policy gathering to date. 

  1. Grew the Sensible Society to over 500 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 500 alumni, supporters, students, foundations, and business leaders. Join them by starting a monthly donation of $25 or more today!

We’re proud of what SSDP accomplished this year, and you should be proud too, because your gifts make our work possible. SSDP is a grassroots organization supported by individuals, small businesses, family foundations, and fellow non-profits — people just like you.

Thank you for your support.