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Friday, May 14, 2021

Student group promotes drug policy education

Imagine being at a dorm party on campus. Your friend starts showing signs of a drug overdose. Would you know what to do?

This is one example of the questions Western’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy aims to answer.

“The university doesn’t have a consolidated resource for drug policy information,” the chapter’s Vice President Will Petro said. “We want to make sure students are clear and educated about their rights and the drug policy on campus so they can stay safe.”

The club works toward educating people about drug policy from a local level to an international level. Members engage in activism as well as working to change policies within in the university, state and nation as a whole, chapter President Katrina Haffner said.

The legalization of marijuana was discussed at the club’s meeting on Thursday, Oct. 13. Nine states will vote to legalize marijuana this year.

“Now that cannabis is legal in Washington for both medical and recreational purposes, it’s easy to get lazy about the activism,” Petro said.

“The first step to making a difference is educating yourself about all these different drug policies, especially the ones that may affect you or your community.”

Western’s Students for Sustainable Drug Policy Chapter President Katrina Haffner

Outside of Washington, there are still people getting arrested every day for possession. It’s important to stay informed about the issues, Petro said.

“If you care about people, if you don’t want people to be needlessly imprisoned, then you should care about what goes on in other states,” Haffner said.

The other state initiatives on the ballot can also serve as a learning standard for Washington. State measures like these are always evolving, Haffner said.

Senior Tucker Link’s interest of the war on drugs and the implications of criminalizing marijuana brought him to the presentation.

“I think it is a common sense drug policy to legalize marijuana,” Link said.

Petro said students don’t have to be complacent with the way they’re treated or the way their rights are handled. Students can be put in difficult situations on campus regarding marijuana.

“The first step to making a difference is educating yourself about all these different drug policies, especially the ones that may affect you or your community,” Haffner said.

Legalization of marijuana is one of the first steps to fighting the war on drugs, Petro said. The war on drugs, however, has become about more than just substance use.

“If we fight for more marijuana legalization, if we try to fight the stigma, we can see a reduction in police brutality, our rights being infringed upon and so much more,” Haffner said.

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