Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Youth RISE are two international organizations focused on engaging young people in harm reduction and drug policy reform. This mini-series focuses on 6 young activists who are working around the world to fight for drug policy reform and to protect human rights.
SSDP has 5,000 members in over 30 countries, and is a network of primarily university-based chapters that work towards the shared goal of ending the war on drugs. Joining SSDP gives you access to the organization’s Peer-to-Peer education program, Just Say Know. It also grants you access to a worldwide network of people with on-the-ground experience, though they may be working in anything from cannabis policy reform to psychedelic-assisted therapy to low-threshold harm reduction. By joining the organization’s Facebook groups, you become aware of breaking articles, webinars and events, and access a wealth of knowledge from other members. If you are looking for a specific type of information or support, they do their best to connect you to someone or some resource within their network.
“I’ve learned so much since joining SSDP about how to stay safe while using drugs that I wouldn’t have otherwise known. That’s just from me educating myself so that I can then educate others…you get a much better understanding of how to stay safe and keep your friends safe,” shared Dasha Anderson, who currently leads SSDP United Kingdom.
Concrete opportunities available to SSDPers are the opportunity to be trained in UN advocacy and to attend the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, an annual international meeting on global drug policies held in Vienna each March. Another opportunity is to access scholarships for the biannual International Drug Policy Reform Conference, organized by the US-based Drug Policy Alliance. Members can network with high-level organizations including the International Drug Policy Consortium. Even if a member works only within their local chapter, they can develop valuable advocacy skills.