Become an SSDPer!

Start a chapter of SSDP and join the youth movement to end drug prohibition.

By starting a Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter in your area, you can join the youth movement to end the War on Drugs. SSDP provides training, guidance, materials, and support to empower current youth activists and future thought leaders and changemakers. Becoming an SSDPer takes a little work, but it isn’t prohibitively difficult or time-intensive, and is a great way to help serve your community. Unlike most chapter-based student organizations, we do not charge our chapters any dues or fees. We also have tons of free, useful resources to help you build your chapter, spread the word, lobby for key issues, and actually change drug laws at the local, state, and federal level (see our active campaigns here)
The steps below outline the typical process of starting an SSDP chapter. Every school, chapter, and chapter leader is different, so take this more as a general guide than hard requirements. Stay in touch with your Outreach Coordinator as you go through the steps and keep us up to date on your progress so we can help with any snags that may come up along the way. We’re here to be a resource for you!
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How to start an SSDP chapter at your school

Our Outreach team is available to help with everything outlined below and with anything else involved in building and maintaining a chapter. If you have any questions about the chapter start-up process, please email us.

Submit a new chapter application

  1. Fill out this form to start the process.
  2. Once we receive your chapter application, a member of our Outreach team will get in touch with you and act as your SSDP point person to help guide you through the steps below, connect you with our resources, and connect you to other chapter leaders.

Learn about SSDP and our available resources

  1. Read SSDP’s mission and values statement.
  2. Check out our extensive collection of resources for student activists, including sample chapter constitutions, printable flyers, press release templates, and more!
  3. Read our Chapter Organizing Manual for tips and best practices on building and managing a successful chapter.
  4. Read our blog to see what we and our chapters have been up to.
  5. Check out our current policy campaigns.
  6. Talk, connect, and share wisdom with SSDP chapter leaders all over the world in the SSDP Family Facebook group.

Get Started on Your Path

  1. Your SSDP point person will work with you to figure out the first steps towards making change and ending the War on Drugs. If you don’t hear from them within a day or so, feel free to email us.
  2. These tasks may look like, but are not exclusive to:
    1. Analyzing your school or region’s drug policies
    2. Hosting your first SSDP meeting
    3. Starting the first module of the Just Say Know program

Get to know our expert staff

  1. After you’ve started working on drug policy reform with your SSDP point person, they will connect you with other members of our expert staff.
  2. Depending on which areas you care most about, you’ll be in touch with a variety of staff members ready to help you build the movement, change policy, educate your peers, or some combination of all those activities.

The student movement to end the war on drugs is expanding rapidly, and we’re happy to welcome you into that growing movement. Talk to you soon!

– SSDP’s Global Staff

Joining SSDP: What are my options?

SSDP is a grassroots network that consists of chapters and ambassadors. Chapters are groups of people that can range in size. Ambassadors are individuals who wish to carry out SSDP’s mission. Typically, Ambassadors tend to focus on specific projects, committees, or topics, whereas chapters are often more variable. Oftentimes, people will begin their journey with SSDP as an Ambassador and grow into a chapter.

What do I need to do to start an SSDP Chapter or become an SSDP Ambassador?

In order to be recognized as an official chapter or ambassador of SSDP, you must do the following:
  1. Attend an orientation or have a one-on-one phone call with a member of the outreach team
  2. Hold regular meetings (chapters only)
  3. Submit a planning document to the outreach team
The chapter must contact SSDP’s outreach team to become an official SSDP chapter. Chapters are also expected to embrace and exemplify the mission and values of the organization.

So chapters can do whatever they want?

Almost, but not quite. Being part of an international organization requires a commitment to the mission and values of that organization. For example, since the organization “neither encourages nor condemns drug use,” encouraging people to smoke cannabis is not OK. However, encouraging people to change cannabis laws or to learn more about Cannabis and safe cannabis use is more than OK. We also encourage members to challenge what they think they know about drugs and the people who use them, especially for highly stigmatized drugs like heroin, crack, fentanyl, and methamphetamine. It’s important to recognize that a lot of the common expressions, myths, and terms were created to justify violence against people who use drugs, and comments like “at least it’s not heroin” or “it’s not like I’m injecting” assume that there’s something inherently wrong with people who engage in the use of either. As a rule, SSDP activity is focused on advancing human rights protections for people who use drugs, both in our work and how we show up.

Where do I start?

Start organizing! Our resources page has plenty of materials to get you started, and our Outreach team members are available to guide you through the process of starting a chapter. If you haven’t contacted your Outreach team member yet, please do so here

Do I have to pay dues to SSDP?

No, you do not have to pay dues to SSDP. Your commitment to drug policy reform is payment enough.

How do I receive recognition from my school?

Each school has its own process for recognizing organizations, and this process is usually explained in a student handbook. The best places to start asking around for information about starting an organization are the office of student government, student affairs, or the office of student involvement. Many universities require student organizations to have faculty advisors, so a good first step is always to reach out to professors who you think may be supportive of drug policy reform. Additionally, most universities require a small number of signatures from people saying they are interested in being involved with your chapter – around 5 to 10, including 3 people pledging to be in leadership positions. If you want advice on recruiting people, please contact our Outreach Team. You should also draft up a chapter constitution, as many universities require one. You can download sample constitutions here.

What’s the difference between SSDP International and SSDP Foundation?

SSDP International is an independent organisation with members in over 30 countries, which occasionally partners with SSDP Foundation (US) on different programs and shares some resources. Students for Sensible Drug Policy International is an international grassroots network of students and young people, led by students and young people who are advocating for policy reform on the local, national, continental and global levels. SSDP International promotes youth civic engagement as a critical tool in reforming drug policy and develops leaders who advocate for change, based on justice, liberty and compassion. SSDP International mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in political processes. Their members operate locally and are connected globally to reduce the harms of counterproductive policies–in particular, those that directly harm students of all ages and youth–and to represent the rights and interests of this population.

We are replacing the disastrous war on drugs with policies rooted in evidence, compassion, and human rights.

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