Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is an international non-profit advocacy and education organization based in Washington D.C. SSDP is focused on reforming drug policy in the United States and internationally.
SSDP was first founded in 1998 by a small group of U.S. students from Rochester Institute of Technology and George Washington University in response to that year's reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which contained a provision denying student loans and grants to students with drug convictions.
Betty Aldworth has served as Executive Director since February, 2014 and Stacia Cosner serves as Deputy Director. Drew Stromberg serves as Outreach Director, and Scott Cecil and Jake Agliata serve as the organization's Outreach Coordinators. The Board of Directors is currently chaired by Sam Tracy, a student at the University of Connecticut.
SSDP functions through somewhat autonomous chapter networks in universities, colleges, and high schools around the world promoting student and teacher activism for change in policy and attitudes toward marijuana prohibition, drug use and drug abuse, and drug policies. As of July 2014, there are more than 200 chapters of SSDP worldwide, with the largest concentrations in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and the UK. SSDP's staff is headquartered in Washington DC.
SSDP was founded around the issue of the drug provision in the 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which denies federal financial aid to students with marijuana or other drug convictions. The HEA has been criticized for disproportionately affecting minorities, working-class, and disabled students.
In addition to opposition of the Higher Education Act, current SSDP campaigns include the promotion of Call 911 Good Samaritan Policies, changing campus drug policies, promoting drug education and counseling, ending zero tolerance policies, advocating the end of the international war on drugs, promoting an end to government anti-drug ads, influencing President Obama, lowering the drinking age, getting politicians to go on the record about drug policy, removing educational barriers for students in prison, working against student drug testing, and advocating for Marijuana Policy Reform.
In addition to working on issues that primarily affect students, many of SSDP's chapters work on local and state-level campaigns such as marijuana deprioritization, lowest law enforcement priority policies for marijuana, marijuana decriminalization, marijuana legalization , reinstating voting rights to felons convicted of drug charges, and safe access to []medical marijuana. Chapters are also known to hold day-long festivals to promote their cause on campus, with excellent results.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy also wrote an amicus curiae brief for the Supreme Court case Morse v. Frederick.
SSDP v. Rep. Mark Souder
Representative Mark Souder of Indiana is well known in SSDP as the author of the Aid Elimination Penalty in the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998. Souder is seen by SSDP as one of the foremost proponents of what they view as invisible marijuana policies. Souder has declined to engage in a debate with SSDP members regarding the Aid Elimination Penalty, and has called the organization "nonsensical" and "legalizers". The "legalizers" comment came in a Dear Colleague letter written by Souder supporting the Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty. SSDP has since responded with a professionally written letter signed by over fifteen other organizations who also oppose the Aid Elimination Penalty including; the United Methodist Church, the National Education Association, the World Summit on the Information Society, and the American Federation of Teachers.
Former Executive Directors
June 1, 2010 - September, 2013: Aaron Houston