More than 500 students and supporters from at least 35 states and 16 countries will gather near the nation's capital this weekend to talk about ending the failed war on drugs. Among other tactics and strategies, the students will plot efforts to help pass marijuana legalization measures appearing on state ballots this November.
Attendees at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) Conference will hear from elected officials, medical professionals, law enforcement, academics and authors. Also speaking is Lyn Ulbricht, whose son Ross is currently serving a federal prison sentence for running The Silk Road, a site on the dark web that allowed people to purchase and sell illegal drugs using bitcoin.
Immediately following the conference, students and allies will be bussed to New York City to participate in demonstrations outside a high-level United Nations meeting on the global drug war. The UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs is the first such event in nearly two decades. World leaders will have the chance to revise international drug treaties, but young people and anti-prohibition voices have been shut out of the process.
WHO: Students and other advocates of ending the war on drugs
WHAT: Students for Sensible Drug Policy international conference
WHEN: Friday, April 15 - Sunday, April 17
WHERE: Holiday Inn Rosslyn at Key Bridge; 1900 N. Fort Myer Drive; Arlington, Virginia 22209
"Government officials always justify harsh drug war tactics by claiming they are necessary to protect vulnerable youth from the dangers of drugs. But young people know firsthand that criminalization and prohibition have put our generations at greater risk," said Betty Aldworth, SSDP's executive director. "From the resources being wasted building prisons instead of schools, to racial disparities in enforcement, to people overdosing on unregulated and untested drugs while proven harm reduction strategies are unfunded, this war on drugs has gone too far and caused too much damage. Young people are tired of having our voices ignored."
Voters in five or more U.S. states could see measures to legalize and regulate marijuana on their ballots this November, potentially more than doubling the number of states to end prohibition. And two important presidential swing states -- Florida and Ohio -- are expected to vote on medical cannabis ballot measures.
In past election cycles, SSDP students have led on-the-ground efforts to increase youth turnout in target states, and the organization's international network has used custom online phonebanking tools to persuade supportive voters to get to the polls.
Other topics addressed at the conference will include environmental consequences of prohibition, overdose prevention, addiction, psychedelics, medical cannabis and drug law reform efforts in Latin America.
More information on the conference is at http://ssdp.org/events/ssdp2016/ and details about the UN events in New York are at http://ssdp.org/events/ungass-youth-demonstration/
Students for Sensible Drug Policy's 5,000 members advocate for replacing the disastrous war on drugs with policies rooted in evidence, compassion and human rights. We mobilize from 300 schools around the globe to make change from the campus to the UN because the war on drugs is a war on us.