Students for a Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots organization dedicated to Harm Reduction and ending the War on Drugs. Its goal is to bring students of all political persuasions and ideologies together for an open and honest dialogue dealing with drugs and drug policy. The organization includes thousands of members at hundreds of campuses across the entire globe.
The First SSDP chapter came to College of Charleston in 2010, and was founded by former Honor Board Chair Kat Humphries. This organization existed as a haven on campus for students interested in communicating without borders. For two years Charleston SSDP existed as an exchange open to all ideas, and as a space without walls. In Fall 2012, under the presidency of Ms. Lisa Diamond, the organizations’ ranks began to swell. Ms. Diamond began to offer lectures, in which she speaks with a enough genuine understanding and intelligent observations to not only fill the seats of her weekly meetings, but to bring College of Charleston students consistently coming back for more. Operating at full capacity and holding the safe distribution of knowledge in the highest regard, SSDP chose Spring 2013 to reach out to larger audiences and bigger classrooms.
Last April, SSDP brought Jamie Haase to visit the College of Charleston. His name and affiliations packed the Rita Liddy Hollings auditorium with eager and curious students. Jamie, now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), began his law enforcement career more than ten years ago as a Customs Inspector for the Charleston seaport. He went on to become a special agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where he was stationed on the Mexican border. It was at that point, he explains, when he opened his eyes to the real devastation caused by drug laws. Jamie was lucky enough to witness first-hand the “effectiveness with which our drug policies kill innocent people.” Although he was able to find few examples of taxpayer dollars removing any significant portion of drugs from our streets, he believes the argument is particularly potent when it comes to the prohibition of cannabis.
His forty-five minute sermon awoke the members of SSDP. He declared that the Drug War is bad, our efforts are required to bring about its end and time wasted equals lives lost. Certain conclusions are difficult to avoid when dealing with drug war hypocrisy. Regular members of SSDP receive weekly updates surrounding the growing trend of Drug Policy Reform. Tagging a large and reputable name to the issue allowed SSDP to open the eyes and ears of many Charlestonians in a short period of time.
At their core SSDP is an organization concerned with the impact drug abuse has on our communities and how the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society. It is their goal to use acceptance, intellect and honesty to try and avoid policies that breed debt, destruction and death. This is not a group who believes in sweeping a problem under the rug. If the problem exists, they believe you must grab a hold of it and get your hands dirty.
Jamie continued by saying, “When you look at the smuggled narcotics seized by the government on the border, 97% of it accounts for marijuana. Now considering that more than 70,000 killings have taken place in Mexico in the past six years, coupled with the fact that most Americans now want marijuana regulated like alcohol, this is truly an unjust and inhumane policy. Marijuana use has never killed anyone, and the substance’s medicinal qualities are coming to light more each day, yet its prohibition continues filling Mexican morgues and American prisons. Meanwhile, most legislators here at home remain sidelined and spineless when it comes to taking up this issue.” Jamie Hasse’s chilling presentation explained the toxic situations grown out of Mexican and U.S. policies. His first hand experiences with Mexican struggles saw the death of journalists, women, children, police officers, and mayors. However, anyone daring enough to try and plug the river of money flowing from our black market runs into the sharp end of the hungry Mexican drug cartels. Hasse’s photographic evidence was striking. His images told a story of brutal retribution paid by pawns. It is for the protection of innocent people that organizations dedicated to reforming drug policy like SSDP and LEAP exist.
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy stands as a campus organization dedicated to asking people to weigh the costs. As a society, do we give faith in the ability of our fellow man to make his own decisions about what goes in his own body, use increase regulation to promote health and well-being, while simultaneously ending a bloody border war? Or is it better to continue scantily sweeping our spacious and sandy streets? The controversial topic of Drug Policy is bound to rear its head sooner rather than later.
All South Carolinians have an opinion. SSDP is dedicated to hearing all opinions. Assemblies on the front lines of American drug policy are fighting to preserve the health and well-being of Mexicans and Americans. Students for a Sensible Drug Policy believes that through the exchange of ideas we can move towards exemplifying fairness and justice to the rest of the world. Student interested in collaborating with SSDP should contact Ms. Lisa Diamond at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by meetings on Mondays at 6:30 PM in Stern 409.
*The author of this piece is a former member of SSDP.