I was inspired at the 2012 Cannabis Law Reform Conferencehosted by Oregon Students for Sensible Drug Policy last weekend by what college students can do if they put their minds to it. I sent out e-mails across the nation, 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 Colgate University. Chapter President Andrew Livingston was kind enough to send over the following responses ( TWB questions are in bold, above Andrew’s responses):
How long has your Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter existed?
I helped to start Colgate University’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy my sophmore year in the fall of 2009. I am currently a senior and have helped to lead the chapter as president for the last two years.
How many members does your Students for Sensible Drug Policy currently have?
Colgate is a pretty small school (roughly 2700 students) and we have about 20 SSDP members of which 8-12 are likely to show up to the weekly meetings.
What is your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy doing to recruit new members?
We hold events on campus and recruit students at the activities fair each semester. We also hold social events in order to foster a sense of community and get to know each other in a casual manner.
What are the goals of your Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter for this academic year?
We hope to increase our membership and hold a few more events before the end of the year. Our chapter successfully passed a Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty policy at our university last year and helped with the passage of New York state’s comprehensive policy that came into effect this last summer. We hope to build on those accomplishments and are currently helping out with a similar policy in New Jersey.
How would you describe the marijuana culture on your campus?
It is definitely prevalent and normalized but it is not out-front or obvious. You can easily find others on campus with a similar mindset. In general students are pretty reasonable and sensible when it comes to marijuana use.
How would you describe the campus laws towards marijuana?
I am very happy to say the school administration is just as reasonable and sensible when it comes to marijuana use. Our university changed over to a point system this year and it is relatively lenient compared to other schools. A student caught with marijuana for the first time will not be kicked out of housing or suspended. Our school handles everything internally so campus safety officers can not arrest students or charge them with the $100 marijuana violation ticket that is the norm throughout NY.
If you could give advice to college students that are reading this interview, what would it be?
Pay attention to how your school handles student conduct. NOT ALL SCHOOLS ARE THE SAME. You want to go to a school like Colgate that recognizes students will be students and handles all disciplinary offenses internally. This way you do not have to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer if you get caught by campus officials. Talk to the students when you go to visit schools. If the school has a chapter of SSDP send the president an email! All schools will have marijuana on campus, we live in America and young people tend to indulge. Don’t worry about not finding your crowd. Worry instead about how the school deals with cannabis use on campus.
What would be the benefits of legalizing marijuana?
They are too numerous to name. Less people would go to jail, increase medical research, decrease violence associated with criminal markets, less money and power going to drug testing companies, tax revenue, a safe environment to purchase, sane policy….. so many more
What are the drawbacks of continuing marijuana prohibition?
All the opposite of what was mentioned earlier. I like to look at it this way. The more time we continue having prohibition means the less time in your life you get to experience the amazing wonders of a legal above-ground cannabis market.
How would marijuana legalization affect your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
We would gain legitamacy in the eyes of some of our opponents. But in general not too much. SSDP is not just about marijuana legalization but about drug policy in general. Until we end the drug war and start treating drug abuse as a medical rather than a criminal issue we will never be done. We keep on fighting until the end. Marijuana legalization would just make the fight a little more fun.
Do you have any Students for Sensible Drug Policy events coming up in your area?
We will hold a booth on harm reduction and responsible partying during our schools Gatestock event on April 28th. Between then and now we hope to be holding larger events on direct democracy and marijuana internet polls. We have weekly meetings on Wednesdays that focus on all sorts of different drug policy issues.
How can readers support your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
Donate to SSDP as a national organization so we can send more students to conferences and events. Join SSDP at what ever school you decide to go to. And it your school does not have a chapter, start one! SSDP changed my life and the support that comes from our national network is just unbelievable. If you are interested in Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Colgate University email me at ssdpColgate@gmail.com