Away with the stigma: A profile of STudents for Sensible Drug Policy

Joey Belonger

Heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy, opium, marijuana, shrooms, PCP — these are just a few of the cornucopia of illegal drugs that exist in our world, and perhaps even our own campus. However uncomfortable or stigmatized these words have become, one young student organization on Lawrence’s campus has decided to confront the stigma head-on.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy gained recognition as a student organization halfway through Winter Term of the 2011-12 academic year by club president Evan Johnson after a fortuitous adventure on the popular website “StumbleUpon.” The grassroots organization centered on a rational change through education and lobbying struck a chord with Johnson, and he began the process to bring a chapter to Lawrence, which reached its zenith when it received funding last April.

“There is a lot of propaganda,” said Johnson in response to why the organization was imperative to the Lawrence community. “We just want to educate and empower students to make a positive change.” Johnson also shared with The Lawrentian that one current policy being discussed among SSDP’s members is the Good Samaritan Policy, which would allow individuals to call authorities without any fear of legal retribution.

While a club that sports such a poignant name may at first seem to invoke the stigma of drugs and discourage others to join, the Lawrence community has received the club very warmly, with the recent Activities Fair raking in several new members. Johnson admits that the stigma is not completely nonexistent at Lawrence, however.

Anyone dubious of the club’s intentions will have their worries put to rest after one look at the organization’s national website,, where their value statement reads, “SSDP neither condones nor condemns drug use, rather we respect the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health and well-being.”

Lawrence’s chapter of SSPD has already begun to affect campus in new ways by petitioning for new policies and sponsoring speakers such as Vermin Supreme, who will be on campus for the LU Weird Music and Arts festival. Ultimately, Students for Sensible Drug Policy simply wish to better the community by examining drug policy as well as encourage and educate the Lawrence community.

SSDP meets every Sunday at noon in the Schumann Room inside Andrew Commons. Anyone interested in joining may contact its President Evan Johnson or VP Alec W. Uebersohn.