I discovered a non-profit called Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) dedicated to ending the War on Drugs. Their mission: To empower young folk to get involved in the political process of shaping public drug policy. To create policies based on education, harm reduction, and research. Our goal is the same as everyone's: To increase public health, reduce crimes associated with drugs, and get people the medicine they need.
End Drug Prohibition
We, the D.A.R.E. Generation, are the ones most affected by America's drug policies, should be the ones shaping them.
Cultivate cannabis industry.
Stop prosecuting marijuana - It's a plant.
Invest in education and rehabilitation over incarceration.
Stop prosecuting people for non-violent drug offenses. Especially end mandatory minimum sentences.
Being students, (1 of 200 million) in the D.A.R.E. Program, testify that D.A.R.E. got us interested in drugs we knew nothing about in the first place. D.A.R.E.: Drug Abuse Resistance Education is a government funded program that taught 300 million students to "just say no"... Why are we daring kids to do anything? The moral of D.A.R.E. is "don't do drugs" and like a million other kids, all I heard was "do drugs". When I first learned about hallucinogens in D.A.R.E., I especially found those interesting. We often list our motives as, "for the children", and if you truly care, it's time to start listening to the children.
America's War on Drugs is failing us. In our nation's 50 Year history of fighting this war, we've made drug cartels more powerful, street drugs more profitable, over-crowded prisons with non-violent drug offenders (while letting murderers and rapists out for sentences serving less time), and miseducated our children about drugs.
"Tough on crime" only creates tough criminals. We want a system in place that's safe, healing, and encouraging of the best behavior. We believe that drugs serve a purpose in their respective rhealms, and that it's not so cut and dry. We have a serious opioid problem because of doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, and we have to be open to trying new solutions if we want to thrive.
There's a serious gap between America's drug laws and America's drug reality. We want to seem tough on crime, but our toughness has never stopped the flow of students in our country. Despite the ban of illicit drugs and this "lock em up and throw away the key" mentality, they've never been easier to get than at my high school in Sandy, Utah. No ban on illicit drugs, and increase of law enforcement has ever stopped the flow of drugs in America.
Our goal was to end the war on drugs. As vast as that sounds, every chapter across the world tackled different limbs of the beast. In America, we enacted Good Samaritan Policies which granted students freedom to call for help in medical emergencies pertaining to drugs and alcohol without the fear of prosecution. across campuses worldwide. We advocated for medicinal cannabis is Denver making it the first state to legalize. and recreational cannabis laws across America. We advocated for education and rehabilitation, instead of incarceration, and an end to mandatory minimum sentencing. Most importantly, we advocated to treat drug use like a mental health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. Every chapter was unique, and our efforts largely depended on the political climate of our region.
Living in Utah, I recognized the importance of this message. Since the 2 Years, I'd noticed heroin in High School, it swept like a plague across the Salt Lake Valley. We led the nation in pharmaceutical drug abuse, and had a "tough on crime" approach (as this photo I took of public transportation demonstrates). It was and still is an awful climate in Utah with conservatives sharply condemning "illegal" drug use and quietly battling their own pharmaceutical addictions.
I started the first Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at the University of Utah. At the time, I was President, Dani Diaz was Vice President and we tabled weekly spreading the word. We had data, research, stickers, and publications that attracted a lot of intelligent, and a lot of crazy people. We started a radio show on KUTE called "Drug War Radio" sharing research, news, current events, and effective drug policies around the world. Most of my involvement in the organization was sharing the message, harnessing the energy and talents of individuals, and figuring out how our voice could make an impact in the conservative state of Utah.
In 2008, I received The Rising Star Award in Washington D.C. In 2010, The University of Utah received the Outstanding Chapter Award, and that same year, we were published in High Times Magazine as one of the Top 10 activist schools in the nation. Worldwide, our efforts were recognized and praised.
At home, my parents sharply condemned it. They called it "the drug club" and threatened to withdrawal their tuition support if I continued to advocate. They accused me of being high at all times (which I was most of the time). "What's wrong with being high? I'd ask. "You're stressed out, and that's a lot more unbearable to be around." SSDP became a source of contention in my family's home, and soon in my heart.
Advocating for a subject like drugs attracts a lot of interesting people and attention.
Drugs were not hard to find, and I welcomed them. I was once the guinea pig for two DMT experiments conducted by members, and was the recipient of the freshest cannabis from the Emerald Triangle.
Instead of having the approval of my family, I sought the approval of the world. I dated a ketamine and mdma dealer who misguided my efforts (and I his).
Psychedelics and cannabis were never a problem. It's the pharmaceutical drugs that led to down a path of misguided intentions. When you seek the approval of peers, it's a lot easier to do drugs because it takes the edge off and bonds you.
In 2010, my friends Max, Nicole, and I drove to Denver for the Mountain Plains Regional Conference. I was driving Nicole's Scion TC fast across the desolate plains of Wyoming, when the voice of God told me to slow down. I slowed down, and almost instantly after, a semi-truck cut me off without a blinker. I slammed the brakes, lost control of the car, and flipped it to the other side of the 1-80.
I saw my life flash before my eyes as we turned upside down in slow motion looking at the sun fall on the horizon.
I was so scared. Max had blood on his hands, and last I checked, Nicole fell asleep in the back without a seatbelt. "Are you okkk?" I asked afraid to hear the answer. "Yeah, I'm fine!" Max responded all chipper. I laughed a nervous laugh. I looked back with my whole body, too stiff to turn only my neck. All of the windows shattered. I looked back and down and saw Nicole. "We're alive!" By grace of God we landed upright, and in that moment, we all shared the sober silence of a near death experience.
Dozens of people pulled off the side of the road "to help". Two people helped. The rest were nosy assholes. I'd packed my clothes in a recyclable grocery bag and everything was strewn across the freeway. I'll never forget the image of my underwear swaying on the tall golden grasses in the center divide. I was humiliated, and felt horrible for crashing my friends car.
The paramedics showed up and insisted we go to the emergency. I wanted the reassurance of my friend's health, but in my mind, I wasn't trying to get an expensive medical bill. Nicole took the ambulance and Max and I met her at the emergency. Nicole was our biggest concern. She'd fallen asleep in the backseat without a seatbelt, hit the room, and was knocked around like a ping pong ball in the backseat. Would you believe that the cops followed us to the hospital and gave us both a ticket? I regret being honest with them because they gave me a ticket for speeding and her a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt. As if the trauma wasn't a lesson. This moment definitely decreased my respect for cops. The hospital insisted I get checked. Even though I insisted I was fine, they convinced me that I could have internal bleeding and brain damage. So, I got a few x-rays, the medical confirmation that I was fine, and a bill of $5,555.
Nicole's amazing parents came to pick us up. True Christians, they showered their nourishing spirits and gave us all a ride home. I had felt awful for crashing Nicole's car, but they were amazing and said that's the least of their concerns.
I couldn't go home. I immediately went to Sam's. Having been in a life-changing car accident herself, she knew exactly what to do. She was sweet, nourishing, encouraging and provided me a respite of healing.
Sadly, by my own choice, I got addicted to opioids and benzodiazepines. On them, I could carry on. Without them, I was ever so aware of all the mistakes I'd ever made and it hurt me to think about them over and over again. The reality of the situation was, I needed to take a break. Instead of taking this time to heal, I carried on like everything was fine, high on pharmaceutical drugs.
I was trying to carry on the best way I knew how when the world around me was crumbling. My parents stopped helping pay for tuition. I didn't want to be around them. I was living with the woman I care-give for and we got lost in each other's world. I'd love to get high on klonopin, but consequently forget everything I did. People would tell me things and I just couldn't believe it. Where did I get the audacity to do that?! I kinda liked it, but deep down I knew something was wrong.
Two girls in the club accused me of embezzling money and it tore me apart. They were weird in bringing financial questions to my attention, and embezzlement was a far stretch. We're talking $100-200. I got a call from the Dean of Students relaying this news - not even the girls. It was spiteful. I'd put my whole heart and soul into this organization, and to have this kind of energy coming back at me, and I quietly retreated in the comforts of klonopin.