HIGH TIMES recently released their 2012 rankings of America’s top institutions of higher education in the area of marijuana activism. I want to tip my hat to all the SSDP chapters that were listed, I want to commend those that didn’t make the list, as well as HIGH TIMES for highlighting the pursuits of such hardworking activists. SSDP doesn’t get nearly the love it deserves in my opinion!
I couldn’t help but put out an article lobbying for a higher ranking for Oregon SSDP. This in no way is meant to take away from UConn or Northeastern, two chapters that I have worked with and I can attest that both of them are worthy of the number one slot. In fact, I have yet to meet an SSDP chapter or member that didn’t impress me. But I’ll tell you what, there is something in the water out here on Oregon’s campuses that creates some hardcore marijuana activists!
As loyal readers know, I stepped away from my regular job in February to pursue TWB full time. Financially, it was one of the worst decisions I’ve made in awhile (going back to my old job, sad face), but I still consider it all worth it because of the Oregon SSDP members that I have met and been able to fight alongside. If that’s all I ever get out of TWB, I will have been rewarded far more than I ever deserved.
My first experience with Oregon SSDP was at the 2012 Cannabis Law Reform Conference. This event was entirely created and ran by Oregon SSDP members. Prior to the event, it had been my experience that older activists were at each other’s throats constantly. No one could seem to get on the same page or even want to be in the same room with each other at times. This was the first time in over a decade that I saw the ‘who’s who’ of Oregon marijuana activism all in one room having constructive conversations.
From there I saw Oregon SSDP members help stop former federal prosecutor, and anti-medical marijuana crusader, Dwight Holton from becoming Oregon Attorney General. I covered that race more than any other person. I was called out by the main media outlet in Oregon for doing so and being so vocal. I called the Drug Policy Alliance before they even knew about the race and begged them to get involved, as well as every other national organization. In every measurable way I was at the eye of the ‘Dwight Holton Storm’ and I will tell you from first hand experience, had it not been for Oregon SSDP, Dwight Holton would be Oregon’s Attorney General right now, Oregon’s medical marijuana program would be halted, and every other medical marijuana program in the country would be in jeopardy. Oregon SSDP members were at every debate, every rally, posted comments on every media article about the race, and on and on. If you like your medical marijuana program, you are in debt to Oregon SSDP whether you realize it or not.
Anyone who has followed Oregon’s marijuana legalization initiative (now Measure 80) knows that the signature drive came down to the wire. With just weeks to go before the signature deadline, Oregon SSDP organized a big signature push to put the initiative over the top. And if that wasn’t enough, some SSDP members even went to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office to oversee the signature verification process. Now Oregon SSDP is campaigning for the Measure. How they can do all of this while going to school, working, and trying to experience life is truly impressive to me.
Like I said before, I don’t want to diminish from other chapters. In fact, I don’t think there will ever be a ranking list put out by TWB because I wouldn’t be able to choose between such amazing chapters. However, I will always lobby for Oregon SSDP on other lists, in a constructive, friendly way. I will always highlight what they do, and who knows, maybe next year they move up to number one :) Below is the full ranking list from HighTimes.com:
The 2012 HIGH TIMES Guide to Higher Education
#1 University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
The Huskies of UConn SSDP have led the pack this year in reforming marijuana policy both on and off campus. Most notably, they played a huge role in helping pass medical marijuana legislation in Connecticut by hosting rallies, coordinating student-lobbying efforts and testifying before lawmakers. No wonder UConn won the “Campus Change” award at the 2012 International SSDP Conference in Denver this March.
#2 Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
Northeastern’s SSDP chapter organized and helped pass a campus-wide ballot initiative that effectively changed their drug and alcohol policy to equalize administrative penalties for both underage drinking and marijuana possession. They also won an “Outstanding Chapter” award at the 2012 International SSDP Conference.
#3 Oregon SSDP (Oregon)
A coalition of SSDP chapters from the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Lewis and Clark University, Lewis and Clark Law School, Portland State University, Reed College, Western Oregon University, and Chemeketa Community College worked together to host the 2012 Cannabis Law Reform Conference in Portland, which ended with a joint resolution in support of IP-24 — which would legalize adult use of marijuana statewide. They’ve been collecting signatures to put it on the ballot ever since.
#4 Brown University (Providence, RI)
Brown SSDP students spent their weekends traveling around Rhode Island to canvass neighborhoods in support of H 7092 and S 2253, two bills in the state legislature that would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. They also provided testimony before Rhode Island lawmakers during House and Senate committee hearings this March.
#5. Piedmont Virginia Community College (Charlottesville, VA)
Though less than a year old, the Piedmont Virginia Community College SSDP chapter, led by Jordan McNeish, in conjunction with the UVA Law chapter, proposed a marijuana decriminalization resolution to the Charlottesville City Council. Unfortunately the Council didn’t pass the resolution, but they did make their own recommendation to the Commonwealth of Virginia to consider decriminalizing marijuana statewide.
#6. University of Colorado Law School (Boulder, CO)
The CU Law chapter, recently named a Rising Star chapter at the SSDP 2012 conference, has been active with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, helping to collect signatures for the legalization initiative, which will be on the ballot this November. The chapter also helped lead local protests when University of Colorado at Boulder administrators threatened to shut down the campus to all non-students on April 20 in an effort to squash the annual “Smoke-In” on the quad.
#7. University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH)
The University of New Hampshire SSDP/NORML chapter has been working hard this year to support SB 409, which would allow qualified patients and their caregivers to cultivate and possess a limited amount of marijuana. UNH SSDP/NORML also played a big role at the 2012 College Convention in Concord, where students got every GOP candidate’s stances on drug policy on the record, garnering national media attention in the Washington Post and onMSNBC.
#8. University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO)
The University of Colorado Boulder chapter of SSDP has been actively volunteering with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. In addition to initially helping collect signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, the chapter has also hosted numerous events and forums dedicated to educating students about the initiative, as well as connecting students and volunteers with campaign organizers.
#9. University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI)
The University of Rhode Island’s joint NORML/SSDP chapter has spent this year focusing on Rhode Island’s marijuana decriminalization and legalization bills. They canvassed neighboring communities to talk about policy change and testified before lawmakers in support of decriminalization. In addition, they hosted rallies for marijuana reform on their campus that brought out supporters from all over the state.
#10. Roosevelt University (Chicago, IL)
Last December, RU SSDP organized and hosted the annual Midwest Regional SSDP Conference in Chicago. In addition, their lobbying efforts were instrumental in helping pass a life-saving statewide 911 Good Samaritan policy in Illinois. As a result, they won an “Outstanding Chapter” award at SSDP’s International Conference.
#11. Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY)
Led by activist Evan Nison, Ithaca College SSDP has been working with the mayor of Ithaca to enact an ordinance making adult personal marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority for police officers, while simultaneously lobbying state lawmakers in favor of a medical marijuana law in New York. They also played a large role in passing a statewide 911 Good Samaritan Policy in 2011.
#12. University of Michigan — Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
UM SSDPers spent this year gathering signatures for marijuana legalization in Michigan, including several of their officers who worked as statewide coordinators for the Repeal Today for a Safer Michigan Campaign. The chapter also hosted the 41st annual “Hash Bash,” which drew thousands to campus in support of marijuana legalization.
#13 University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
USC SSDP has been one of our most active chapters since forming in January. They hosted the first ever California Cannabis Initiatives Forum in February, aiming to unify the movement behind a single ballot initiative for 2012. They also worked this semester to collect signatures for the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act and the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiatives.
#14 Linn State Technical College (Linn, MO)
The Linn State SSDP chapter started because college administrators wanted to unconstitutionally drug test every student at a public community college. Sam Walker, chapter founder, contacted the SSDP national office for help. SSDP along with the ACLU then filed a lawsuit to stop the unwarranted testing. Ever since, Linn State SSDPers have focused on educating students on their constitutional rights and gathering signatures for the Show Me Cannabis Campaign to legalize marijuana in Missouri.
#15 SUNY New Paltz (New Paltz, NY)
New Paltz SSDP worked hard this year on lobbying state representatives against the recent US Department of Justice crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries. They also hosted a Rock Against Racism concert on campus calling for an end to racist US drug policies that disproportionately target communities of color.
#16. Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
VCU’s SSDP chapter actively lobbied their state representatives in favor of HJ 140, which would have commissioned a study to evaluate the revenue impact of legalizing and regulating marijuana through state-licensed liquor stores, and HJ 139, which would have had Gov. McDonnell add his name to the existing petition from state governors asking the DEA to reschedule marijuana. The chapter also earned national press coverage for their rally on April 20.
17. Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL)
Florida State SSDP has been in consistent contact with Florida legislators, and has even made a few trips to the Florida Senate to lobby in person for medical marijuana. The chapter, which was also involved in the recent passage of Florida’s statewide 911 Good Samaritan Act, is currently working on reaching out to legislators to find support and sponsors for a marijuana decriminalization bill.
#18. University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH)
UC SSDP has been an integral part of the campaign to get medical cannabis on the ballot for Ohio in 2012. Working closely with the Ohio Medical Cannabis Association, they’ve been collecting signatures on campus, at concerts and during community events in hopes that Ohio will be the next state to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes.
#19. West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV)
The WVU SSDP chapter has been working diligently with WV NORML to support state legislators lobbying for West Virginia’s recently introduced medical marijuana bill, as well as educating West Virginians about the need for reform.
#20. Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA)
The GSU SSDP chapter played an integral role in the founding of Peachtree NORML, Georgia’s newest NORML chapter. They also recently attended the April 20 rally in Atlanta, where they distributed literature about marijuana policy. Though Georgia’s progress may be slow-going at times, the GSU chapter is playing a tremendous role in moving the medical marijuana discussion forward, on campus and in the wider community.