SSDP Goes Global

Dear Friend,

The student movement to end the War on Drugs has truly gone global.

Two years ago, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy appeared on the scene and immediately began influencing policy discussions in Ottawa. Late last year, SSDP chapters sprung up in Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Earlier this year, United Kingdom Students for Sensible Drug Policy began forming a network of chapters in Europe. And last month, I attended a United Nations forum in Vienna, Austria representing one of only 25 U.S. organizations invited to join hundreds of other international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) charged with recommending changes in global drug policy. Believe it or not, despite the wide range of organizations present, all groups came to a consensus on recommendations that are forward thinking and grounded in reality, not dogma.

In addition to voicing SSDP's opposition to the failed War on Drugs, I made it a priority to ensure that youth concerns were included in the recommendations adopted by the global NGO community. Despite opposition by American prohibitionist groups like the Drug Free America Foundation and the Drug Free Schools Coalition, SSDP and a coalition of youth organizations succeeded in getting the NGO community to adopt the following language:

Acknowledge that young people are disproportionately affected, both directly and indirectly, by illicit/harmful drug use and drug policy, and honouring the right of young people to be actively involved in the formation and evaluation of all facets of global drug policy.

In other words, the world is finally ready for young people to take a lead in the formation of drug policy. In fact, the chairman of the forum wrapped up the meeting with, "It's true what they say. Sometimes you have to look to the youth to lead."

But they weren't just looking for young people to lead the status quo. The recommendations submitted to the U.N. called for a drastic shift in the way that we deal with drugs and drug users:

  • Acknowledging that drug policy should always be crafted and implemented with full respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms.
  • Recognizing that harm reduction plays an important role in mitigating many of the dangerous consequences of substance abuse, such as the spread of blood borne infections like HIV and Hepatitis.
  • Calling on the United Nations to treat demand reduction and harm reduction as equally or more important than supply reduction.
  • Calling on the United Nations to study the collateral consequences of a criminal justice approach to drug control, and to make recommendations to mitigate these harms.

While the final declaration does not go as far as you and I would like, it represents a significant step forward in global drug policy. If adopted by the United Nations, our recommendations may lead to public health based drug policies being adopted by governments around the world, which would be a welcome shift from treating drugs as primarily a criminal justice issue. And more importantly, youth will be welcomed to the forefront of this shift.

Now more than ever, Students for Sensible Drug Policy is ready to take on that challenge. By contributing to this groundbreaking work, you can take part in history in the making.

Thank you for all of your support,

Kris Krane
SSDP Executive Director