New organization pushes for smarter drug policy

Kayla Boyd

There’s a new organization on campus that deals with and discusses one of the more controversial issues facing this generation: drug use.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is a nationwide political lobbying organization.

Leitchfield junior Kelly Cannon discovered the organization last year and decided to start a chapter at WKU.

SSDP advocates for increased education about drugs and legal rights and for policy change in the government and on college campuses. 

Cannon said she wants to focus on the education aspect, specifically in Fourth Amendment rights.

“A lot of people get drug violations because their rights have been violated,” Cannon said. “We want to explain stuff like what you do and don’t have to show to a cop.”

Bowling Green junior Parker Hanna has been helping Cannon in the planning process for SSDP.

He said the organization would like to implement an annual speaker series. This would bring professionals to campus to give students the most up-to-date and accurate information about drugs, how they affect the body and drug abuse.

“We have to admit that many people will experiment with drugs in college, whether they’re illegal or not,” Hanna said. “This speaker series will help give those students good information rather than unreliable information they received from peers, internet or commercials, so that they can make safe and informed decisions.”

The organization would also like to help put into place several other policies. 

Hanna said SSDP wants to implement 911 Good Samaritan Policies, or a medical amnesty policy. 

“It seeks to eliminate repercussions when emergency help is called in response to a drug overdose,” he said. “So if someone were to overdose on alcohol or another drug, they could call 911 for help and not fear any retribution from the university or the state legal system.”

A policy to end Zero Tolerance is also something the organization is interested in.

“Right now, if you’re caught with any type of drug, you’re supposed to be kicked out of the dorm,” Cannon said. “Getting caught with $10 of marijuana shouldn’t get you kicked out.”

Cannon said the purpose of SSDP isn’t to condone or condemn drugs.

“It focuses on facts and not anti-drug, made-up scare tactics,” Cannon said. 

She said the goal is to realize the war on drugs is a collective failure and to do something about that.

“There’s a little clause in the Higher Education Act that says if college students get in trouble with drugs, they’re ineligible for loans and financial aid for life,” Cannon said. “But convicted murderers are eligible for both of those things.”

An article on states that at the end of 2011, drug offenders accounted for 48 percent of all federal inmates, which was about 94,600 inmates. Only 7.6 percent of federal inmates are doing time for violent crimes.

“It isn’t a club about drugs,” Cannon said. “I tell people about it and they ask me what my favorite drug is. That isn’t what it’s about at all.”

She said the drug policies we have don’t make sense, and SSDP wants to change that.

The first SSDP meeting will be tonight on the ninth floor of Cravens Library at 6 p.m. SSDP can also be found on Facebook.