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 Truman State University in Missouri. Chapter President Aly Kennedy was kind enough to send over the following responses (TWB questions are in bold, above Aly’s responses):
How long has your Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter existed?
Our chapter has been around since the mid-2000’s.
How many members does your Students for Sensible Drug Policy currently have?
Our SSDP Chapter currently has 8 members.
What is your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy doing to recruit new members?
Talking to people about cannabis and legalization is always the best way to get people to get involved. We find that the best way to recruit members is to have a conversation with them, and explain the various ways there are to get involved through our organization.
What are the goals of your Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter for this academic year?
Our goal on campus is always to spread awareness, as we live in an area where ignorance reigns supreme over informed decision-making and opinions. We feel as though legalization is the only logical option after looking at all facts and true, unbiased information about cannabis and its benefits. Once we get that information to the people, it will eventually follow suit that they come to that conclusion on their own. A goal we have specifically for this year is to get more involved in community and campus events in order to get our name out there. Also, there is currently a petition in circulation to get cannabis legalization on the ballot for Missouri in November, and we have been circulating petitions and getting word out for Show-Me Cannabis Regulation.
How would you describe marijuana culture on your campus
Marijuana culture on our campus in incredibly underground, and is frowned upon by many who attend school here. Although I know there are many people who are supportive of the culture, it is difficult to get people to act on it due to the unnecessary stigma it seems to hold in this area.
How would you describe the campus laws towards marijuana?
Truman’s campus’ laws against marijuana are much more strict than the laws against alcohol use, even though it is a dry campus. For a marijuana related offense, there is the possibility of being kicked out of on-campus dormitories, losing scholarships, and being kicked out of Truman in general. These consequences for simple possession infractions are extreme compared to the rules regarding alcohol, which include basically a slap on the wrist and alcohol safety classes, even though alcohol is far more dangerous and causes significant problems which marijuana does not.
If you could give advice to college students that are reading this interview, what would it be?
Talk. The best way you can get people to understand why the current laws against marijuana is an open and informed conversation. And, if you’re going to talk to people about it, be informed. The last thing the movement needs is for people to think that everyone who supports legalization is a “lazy, dumb stoner.” Another important thing for everyone in general, even if you don’t agree with the movement, is to know your rights as a citizen of the United States and how to protect them from being infringed on, and to stay involved in the policy-making procedure by voting.
What would be the benefits of legalizing marijuana?
The benefits of legalizing marijuana are many. Not only are there medical benefits in marijuana use, there are also so many industrial uses that would save money as well as create jobs, and that doesn’t just include the production of marijuana for smoking and recreational use. It also includes the use of hemp in textiles and other materials. Additionally, it would save millions of dollars in money that’s spent on incarceration of non-violent offenders and law-enforcement of these unnecessary prohibition laws that could be put to better use for education and paying off the growing debt that the United States owes to other countries.
What are the drawbacks of continuing marijuana prohibition?
Obviously, drawbacks include the fact that so many people will continue to be persecuted and incarcerated for responsibly using something that is not harmful to themselves or others, and our tax dollars will continue to pay for this war on something that is so harmless. As long as we continue allowing the government to sanction the kinds of things we’re allowed to do in the privacy of our own homes and in our own bodies, as long as they do no damage to others or even ourselves, we are slowly but surely on a path to losing all of our rights as citizens.
How would marijuana legalization affect your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
If marijuana were to become legalized, one of the main goals of our chapter will have been accomplished. Once this happens, I imagine our focus would shift towards how drug offenders (not marijuana related) are incarcerated rather than EFFECTIVELY rehabilitated, and ways in which this could be helped. If legalization eventually passes, I will be so proud to have been involved in this movement, as I’m sure every other member would be as well.
Do you have any Students for Sensible Drug Policy events coming up in your area?
Currently, we have no events planned. However, we do plan on having a speaker from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) come and speak at our campus, which will be a very exciting and informative event from a completely unexpected perspective.
How can readers support your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
Our chapter always accepts donations to help pay for events (such as the traveling expenses for the LEAP speaker) and publicity. We also occasionally hold fundraisers such as bake sales and tie-dye shirt making in order to raise funds, so this would be one way to support us and still get something out of it. Also, we are always looking for new members to join the fight against prohibition, because the more people who are willing to help out, the better. If a reader is interested in becoming involved or supporting Students for a Sensible Drug Policy at Truman State University, they should feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.