By Austin Byron
Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a student-lead organization, held the California Cannabis Initiatives Forum on Sunday at Taper Hall with an aim to better educate the public about current marijuana initiatives and to discuss which marijuana initiative the group might support on the November ballot.
The forum featured five activists representing different marijuana initiatives, which all would legalize marijuana for general consumption. Each described the initiative they support and the benefits it could have on the greater community, along with answering questions concerning the prospect of their initiative being voted on in November.
SSDP President and founder Steven Hwang said the biggest goal for the forum was to unify the five different initiatives vying for a spot on the 2012 ballot to increase the chances that one combined initiative will garner the 500,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
“None of them are currently on track to make the ballot,” Hwang said. “By uniting the initiatives, we could make sure that none of them are competing for resources, [which would]then allow one to be on the ballot, which would be one step closer to the legalization of marijuana.”
Hwang, a senior majoring in human performance, said SSDP’s main goal is to promote drug awareness at a local and national level, while also addressing changing drug policies.
“SSDP is an international grassroots network of students [who]are concerned about the effect that drug use has on our community,” Hwang said. “We’re also aware that the war on drugs is harming our generation.”
The activists varied in specifics of marijuana legalization, such as quantity allowed and means of production.
Matthew Lundgren, a freshman majoring in business administration and cinematic arts and an SSDP member, said engaging in discussion about drug policy helped him understand current initiatives.
“I [came]to familiarize myself with the different initiatives and learn more about each one from the forum,” Lundgren said. “It’s important to discuss drug policy, because if people don’t discuss it, then people won’t question the current ways of doing things.”
Robert Ha, a sophomore majoring in health promotion and disease prevention studies and an SSDP member, said a drug policy initiative should be on the November ballot because current drug policy is flawed.
“I support the repeal prohibition act because, in general, prohibition has been proven not to work, especially with a substance that is not dangerous,” Ha said. “It’s especially important in the United States, because a significant amount of money is used to help fund the [Drug Enforcement Administration].”
Hwang said SSDP hopes to be the leader in campus activism toward facilitating the creation and encouragement of new drug policy legislation.
“We want to kind of lead the campus in being better and more informed about drugs, and foster a discussion, and then eventually lead statewide policy at that point,” Hwang said.
republished with special permission from The Daily Trojan