I sent out e-mails across the nation after the 2012 Cannabis Law Reform Conference hosted by Oregon Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and even to some international Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapters, with interview questions in order to write articles like this one to highlight their efforts. I will continue to post the responses as I receive them. This Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter interview on TWB will be with Manchester College in Indiana. Chapter representative Phil Keim was kind enough to send over the following responses (TWB questions are in bold, above Phil’s responses):
How long has your Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter existed?
Our chapter began at the start of the fall semester last year, 2011. We’ve been officially recognized as the premier Indiana SSDP chapter, and hope to influence other schools to start their own.
How many members does your Students for Sensible Drug Policy currently have?
We’ve had a consistent group of a dozen or so people at our meetings, a good beginning for a small school of approximately 1300 students.
What is your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy doing to recruit new members?
We hope to host a few events to publicize ourselves soon, including a social, kickball tournament, and hopefully a LEAP speaker.
What are the goals of your Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter for this academic year?
We hope to grow in number to affect current policies. We hope that we are able to expand on Indiana’s statewide 911 amnesty policy, as well as work on a campus smoking ban that goes into effect this summer. We have a lot of work to do after spring break, and it is my hope that we will be recognized for the positive change we are able to make after a short time of being an active chapter.
How would you describe the marijuana culture on your campus?
Our student body is fairly receptive of marijuana, with the general outlook being that of tolerance and individual freedom.
How would you describe the campus laws towards marijuana?
Manchester College’s policies regarding marijuana are harsh and intolerant. In some situations, violation of one policy for the first time can result in the dismissal of the student from the college. We hope to change our school’s outlook towards marijuana and correct the ineffective punishments given to students who violate policies.
If you could give advice to college students that are reading this interview, what would it be?
The advice that I would give to others is this: start a chapter at your school if there isn’t one already. It seems that in today’s culture, like-minded students like to complain about the policies they dislike, but fail to act to change things. Take the initiative to promote a positive change in your own community.
What would be the benefits of legalizing marijuana?
The benefits of legalizing marijuana are countless, in my opinion. This step would make medical marijuana readily available for patients who seek the many benefits of the plant. Industrial hemp could grow in fields across the country to go toward products like paper, clothing, and fuels, as well as numerous other products. There would also be less of a burden on state and federal budgets that are stressed from the arrest and prosecution of users of the plant. These are only some of the benefits to be gained, and I hope that our society comes around soon to realize the positive sides of legalization.
What are the drawbacks of continuing marijuana prohibition?
Marijuana prohibition makes criminals out of everyday citizens, and denies access to patients who seek the medical benefits of marijuana. Prohibition creates a drain on governmental budgets, and crowds prisons with individuals who don’t belong in an institution. Marijuana prohibition is an arbitrary practice that creates more harm than good, and hopefully an end is near.
How would marijuana legalization affect your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
Marijuana legalization would force our chapter to take a leadership role in educating students on campus as well as community members about new policies. We would take a stance as the group to look to in identifying new issues that might arise from legalization.
Do you have any Students for Sensible Drug Policy events coming up in your area?
We have several events on campus coming up soon for our fellow students to enjoy. I will be attending the 13th Annual National SSDP Conference in Denver later this month. We hope to have a LEAP speaker come to campus, and possibly host a concert.
How can readers support your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
Readers can support our chapter by checking out our page on Facebook. Any questions can be directed to my e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org