The Hotbox

On election night, November 6, 2012, Tufts Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) was one of the many groups present at the Experimental College board’s Election Night Extravaganza. Tufts SSDP tabled to provide information about ballot initiative #3, which legalized medical marijuana in Massachusetts, and to discuss the effects of marijuana legalization bills throughout the country. After perusing the tables, Dean Gould approached SSDP and asked us: “What do you think a sensible drug policy looks like?” We had conversations like this throughout the evening, both with people that sought us out and with those who had never even heard of us.

This gave SSDP an opportunity to illustrate that our movement is more than just an advocacy group for the right to smoke weed; it is a community of accepting individuals who are eager to discuss and work on this issue with anyone who expresses interest. The focus of Tufts SSDP is drug policy reform and education, although specific interests, opinions, and goals vary from member to member. SSDP members agree that we are in need of drug policy reform grounded in scientific fact and personal autonomy, rather than political gain. But we don’t all agree on the most sensible solution to this problem.

The openness of the Tufts SSDP community is evident here, as any and every perspective is welcome. Sophomore George Aquila, a member, describes SSDP as “an open forum for free thinkers, curious skeptics, and activists alike.” No matter where you stand on this issue, SSDP can supply a stage for the discussion. Furthermore, we aim to make this knowledge accessible to the Tufts community as a whole. If you thirst for a greater understanding about drug use and abuse or the implications of a war waged on substances, we’d love to talk to you.

While Tufts SSDP is interested in discussing drug policy issues at the national and state level, we also advocate for policy reform at Tufts. Our most developed project has been the effort to decriminalize marijuana on campus, aligning Tufts’ policy with Massachusetts state policy. In 2011, after a resolution sponsored by Tufts SSDP was passed through the TCU senate, Tufts altered its disciplinary code so that students now receive only a warning for their first alcohol or marijuana offense. While this was a victory, we have not stopped there. Our next goal is the removal of all disciplinary action for students possessing less than an ounce of cannabis, making it impossible to receive a mark on your permanent record for this non-criminal offense.

Marijuana reform is a key feature of SSDP’s policy focus but it is important to clarify that our club is concerned with sensible policy for all drugs. We don’t focus on any one drug or reform strategy specifically. Tufts SSDP encourages open discussion related to an array of relevant issues, including marijuana legalization, the drinking age, Good Samaritan laws, study drugs, psychedelic drugs or prescription pills, as well as the implications of the current policies in place. If you’re interested in a specific aspect of drug policy reform, whatever it may be, you can find in SSDP a group of individuals ready to talk about what should be done and willing to do something about it.

Policy reform is not the only way that a Tufts student can support SSDP and be a part of this movement. For example, we hosted an open mic night last semester and donations went to a non-profit organization called All of Us or None, which advocates for the rights of ex-criminals. Being in SSDP means being the kind of activist you want to be. That may mean having a conversation about the War on Drugs with your friends and family. It could also mean performing in a show that raises awareness of the implications of the War on Drugs’, or working on spreading drug education by providing information that helps people party safe and stay sensible about what they put into their bodies.

Whether you want to come to a few meetings, participate in social events, or dream of being a drug policy crusader some day, the Tufts chapter of SSDP would love to meet you. Even if you disagree with us and are interested in spirited debate that could leave both of us more informed, hit us up. We’ll be in Eaton 201 Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there!

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