I sent out e-mails across the nation after the 2012 Cannabis Law Reform Conferencehosted by Oregon Students for Sensible Drug Policy, 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 University of Rhode Island. Chapter representative Eric Casey was kind enough to send over the following responses (TWB questions are in bold, above Eric’s responses):
How long has your Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapter existed?
I believe our chapter began as a part of NORML before joing SSDP early on in it’s existence. So basically, too long for anyone to remember.
How many members does your Students for Sensible Drug Policy currently have?
Our chapter has around 15 members who show up regularly but attendance depends on what’s on the agenda.
What is your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy doing to recruit new members?
We try to appeal to the popular idea among college students that is marijuana legalization. We set up tables around campus with information about drug law reform. Also, every year we host a large music festival called Hempfest to raise awareness about cannabis prohibition.
What are the goals of your Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter for this academic year?
Our goal is to have an awesome Hempfest and to help finally decriminalize marijuana and to convince our Governor to allow for medical dispensaries to be opened in Rhode Island.
How would you describe the marijuana culture on your campus?
I would say there is a larger then average amount of students on our campus that use Marijuana recreationally. I would also say a vast majority of them do their best to respect the rules on campus regarding smoking in dorms, and I’ve never seen any sort of problems caused by a student’s marijuana use.
How would you describe the campus laws towards marijuana?
I would say our campus has a more rational approach then a lot of colleges in the country. Minor marijuana possession is usually handled within the university, although it is still treated as a more dangerous substance than alcohol. All in all, I would say the law enforcement here does a good job at performing their duties without encroaching on student’s civil liberties.
If you could give advice to college students that are reading this interview, what would it be?
Marijuana isn’t going to legalize itself. As unappealing as politics in it’s current state may be, the only way legalization can be done is through the system. The reality is the day that politicians realize marijuana legalization equals votes is the day when real change will begin. And don’t let anyone tell you marijuana legalization or any drug law reform isn’t as important as other issues. People are still being killed, thrown in jail or kicked out of college due to marijuana prohibition.
What would be the benefits of legalizing marijuana?
There’s too many to name. Legalizing marijuana will create jobs, save tax payer money on court costs, prisons and police funding, and would allow the free market to capitalize on the new wave of cannabis/hemp products.
What are the drawbacks of continuing marijuana prohibition?
We continue to waste time and funds on punishing people for using a recreational drug that is less harmful than alcohol or even tobacco.
How would marijuana legalization affect your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
It will certainly be an exciting time for our chapter, but we still would have plenty of work to do. Laws regarding other drugs still need drastic reform, and we would still have to make sure that the new marijuana industry would be properly regulated and that students continue to be sensible when it comes to their personal use of drugs.
Do you have any Students for Sensible Drug Policy events coming up in your area?
Yes! We’ll be hosting a few movie screenings in the upcoming months, and of course our music festival, Hempfest, which this year will be on April 28th, from 11am to Midnight on the quad at URI’s campus. If you’re near southern New England, come check it out!
How can readers support your chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy?
A number of ways! Those interested in donating to our chapter or just helping out in any way can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our facebook, twitter, or tumblr.