By Katy Sword
Inactive for almost four years following its debut in 2008, Students for Sensible Drug Policies is back on campus at the University of Idaho.
Jami Riedner, club president, said the club returned officially in February with 15 active members, but about 70 on its Facebook page.
“We are trying to advocate and educate on the current drug policies and how it’s a failure,” Riedner said.
One of the club’s main goals is to get medical marijuana legalized in Idaho.
“We are working with Compassionate Idaho to get medical marijuana on the ballot,” Riedner said. “Idaho is one of the last states to change policies but change has to start somewhere.”
The club is a chapter of the national organization that has goals UI members share.
“Nationally, we are working to change the policy for those who apply to college with a possession charge on record,” Riedner said. “Because of it they aren’t accepted for financial aid and sometimes admission.”
She also said the club is working to get a Good Samaritan law in Idaho, which protects those who help someone who is overdosing or attacked from prosecution, and advocating for enforcement on the federal level.
“In 2009 Obama promised to ensure the DEA would abide by state law but that isn’t happening,” Riedner said. “The DEA is still invading and raiding people who abide by these laws.”
The club will host a rally to end the war on drugs.
“We want to get together and show strong support to a war we feel has failed,” club member Eric Billings said.
The rally will be held April 20, which Billings said just happened to work out because he knew there would be people on-campus, and participants will meet in front of Theophilus Tower to march across campus.
Billings said Rob Oates, a candidate running against Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador, will also be at the march speaking in support of the end of the war on drugs.
In general, Riedner said the club’s focus is education.
“A lot of people don’t know about policies and have to protect themselves,” Riedner said. “We hope to be an educational tool for students to know what their rights are.”
Becky Barry, club vice president and treasurer, said the club is important because members discuss topics many are not used to.
“It’s not something a lot of people have knowledge about and this is a good way for students to be exposed to things they are not normally exposed to,” Barry said. “It’s a different perspective than what the area is exposed to.”
Barry said information discussed during meetings can help students make better decisions in the activities they participate in.
“They can be smarter about keeping their self safe and out of trouble,” Barry said.
Although the club already has a lot planned, Barry and Riedner said programs and activities will be better formed after leaders attend the Students for Sensible Drug Policies national conference this weekend in Denver.
Riedner said the conference will provide guidance on changing policies, and information about which current policies are working.
“After conference we will know a lot more about what we can do and the scope of the club,” Barry said. “It’s going to be a good time, not a crazy committal-based club.”
The next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at Mikey’s Gyros in Moscow. Those interested in more information can visit the group’s Facebook page.
By Katy Sword for The Argonaut. Katy Sword can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org