In 2014, the Students for Sensible Drug Policy international chapter network consisted of Ireland, Mexico and Nigeria. Four years later, we’re in 30 countries on every habitable continent.
During that time, we’ve taken action on regional issues, such as the Ayotzinapa student massacre and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, co-hosted youth drug policy activists in Bangkok and organized dozens of workshops in West Africa, as well as four annual conferences in Ireland, the most recent of which in April included an announcement from the Green Party of Ireland that they would back cannabis legalization.
Juana Boateng founded the first SSDP chapter in Ghana—a country where defendants facing drug charges are stripped of due process. “We started advocating for the rights of people who use drugs by taking to the streets and talking to people about our cause,” Juana explains. “It’s been a tough road for us as we had minimal funds to accomplish this work. But the love, support and encouragement I received from amazing, intelligent SSDPers gave me a sense of belonging. I feel confident, bold and privileged because I know I belong to a family, a team of change makers and a group not scared to fight for what’s right.”
Estudiantes por una Política Sensata de Drogas México was founded in 2010 and has since grown to support students in 14 states. “The current prohibitionist drug policies in México only focus on security instead of health,” says Marisa Morales. “It’s been gratifying to be able to influence drug policy in México, especially because we’re the only youth organization working on this issue. Currently, we’re advocating for cannabis regulation. México took a promising first step last year by approving the use of medical cannabis. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re moving forward.”
Most international chapters operate without any support from academic institutions, often having to pay fees just to print flyers for meetings or reserve a space on campus for an event. Heavy stigmatization surrounding drug policy also means that many international members find themselves at personal risk just for being involved in SSDP.
It’s absolutely remarkable what our international chapters have achieved over the last few years, and our International Activities Fund, launched in July, will give them the resources to accomplish so much more. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to kickstart the fund. Learn more about the program at ssdp.org/iaf.
If you enjoyed this Freedom Leaf article, subscribe to the magazine today!