Written by Drew Stromberg, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
I’m so proud to announce SSDP’s newest addition, Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana! I spoke with chapter founder and current leader Anthony Varriano about starting the chapter and his plans for moving it forward;
How did you hear about SSDP?
I heard of SSDP through my work with the Gary Johnson campaign. During a conference call we had a visit from an SSDP member and he motivated me to start the chapter.
Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
The Montana Medical Marijuana Act came under fire in 2012 and we wanted to do something about it.
What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc.
Reception from the MSU administration has been great. We were approved for rolling funding and are looking to hold more events on campus to attract interest and raise awareness.
What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semesters?
We’ve already hosted Libertarian Vice Presidential Candidate Judge Jim Gray at MSU and discussed “Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It” among other things.
What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far?
The most challenging part of starting an SSDP chapter is to get students off their butts and to the meetings. You really have to make it worth their while, so say there will be punch and pie at the meetings. More people will come if there’s punch and pie.
What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding thing about SSDP so far has been the intelligent discussions I’ve had with my members and meeting Judge Jim Gray to discuss similar issues. I even got an autograph from the Judge and he’s recently become one of my heroes.
What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state right now?
I’m most excited about battling the Montana State Legislature on SB 423, a law they enacted without the vote of the people, and then ratified after the fact in 2012, destroying the medical marijuana industry and making it harder for patients to find medicine unless they grow their own. The work of Colorado and Washington voters is certainly motivating, and I expect Montana to be one of the next states to adopt sensible drug policies…if I have anything to say about it.
What is your vision for Montana State SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
I’d like this chapter to grow and attract younger, like-minded students who can enact change in 2014 and 2016, long after I’m gone.