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War on Drugs: SSDP Fighting the Good Fight


On Oct. 1st, 1998, Students for Sensible Drug Policy was officially formed by the Rochester Institute of Technology students. 

Their purpose is to bring awareness and change the destructive drug policies brought about by Richard Nixon’s war on drugs and Ronald Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaigns.

Kyle Bento, VP of the SSDP chapter, stated, “These campaigns only further stigmatize people who use substances, thus perpetuating harmful propaganda that negatively impacts people’s lives.”

He wants people to know the SSDP advocates and implements harm reduction methods, meaning they don’t condone nor condemn substance abuse. Instead, they use scientifically-backed data that teaches how to mitigate harm when it comes to substances.

Many people misunderstand the goal of SSDP, so when they go out and talk about their chapter, the first thing they ask is, “Do you think the war on drugs has been a success,” which people usually answer with no. 

Benton believes that people have a resounding perception that the war on drugs is harmful. They create this idea either by observation or because substances previously harmed them. SSDP knows that their way of discussing the topic opens people’s minds towards their goals.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroot organization; the UNG Gainesville chapter was formed by students who saw the failures of the war on drugs. Jeremy Sharp, a founding member, was an integral part in introducing and getting Georgia’s amnesty law passed.

“SSDP as an organization advocates for participation and to further implemented SSDP’s values of shared power and authority, youth-controlled agenda, collaboration and partnership, constituent-specific strategies, learning, diversity, inclusion, and anti-discrimination”- Kyle Benton.

They know that people must know their rights when substances are involved, especially when someone needs medical attention. 

Currently, SSDP at UNG has six members in their chapter, but they anticipate growing numbers as more people hear about their mission. They’re an all-inclusive organization, and anyone is welcome to be part of their chapter. 

They are in the planning stages of a harm reduction event; the more people know about their chapter, the stronger the impact. SSDP also offers opportunities with the Psychedelic Career Development Pipeline, where participants are given a mentor to help them grow and develop.

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War on Drugs: SSDP Fighting the Good Fight