Chemeketa Courier

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

By Andrew Gwin
Every Thursday at 1 p.m. in Bldg. 2-178, a new Chemeketa club will meet in the Multicultural Center to discuss drug policy reform.
The club is called Students for a Sensible Drug Policy; its members hope to provide a safe place for students to talk about the politics of drugs in the United States.
Matt Engelson, the club’s vice president, said, “This type of discussion is important because education is a very powerful tool. And if we can educate more people about the underlying problems inherent with the war on drugs, we can start to make a positive change in our society.
“Drug dealers don’t card children and don’t pay taxes. If we can provide a safe meeting place for students to discuss drug abuse and policy, then I feel we have done what we set out to do.”
Ongoing discussions about the war on drugs currently are under way, with many large organizations such as CNN, ABC, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and others writing about it. Among the questions under consideration:
Is prohibition of marijuana and other drugs working?
Do we need to put more energy into other alternatives, such as regulating a drug like alcohol or rehabilitation for non-violent drug users?
Alex Pugh, a Chemeketa student, said, “I joined because I wanted to get more involved with school activities during the day. I’ve mainly been taking night and weekend classes, so I don’t see a lot of my fellow classmates around campus. I wanted to have a bigger relationship with Chemeketa as a whole.
“When I heard about the SSDP, it felt like the best way to connect to Chemeketa and the student body for me. It combines something I’m already passionate about and something I want to be more involved with.”
Ian Baber, a Salem resident, said that he joined because he believed that, “The war on drugs has failed, and our enforcement policies are doing more harm than good. And I also specifically support reasonable marijuana regulation.”
According to the bylaws of the club, “The first objective of the organization shall be to provide the Chemeketa Community College campus community and the Salem public with informative and educational information about current drug policy reform in the United States.
“The second objective of the organization shall be to work for a world in which drug policies are not motivated by political gain, by special interest, or by anything other than the ideals set forth in the Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution and to foster debate in favor of viable alternatives to existing drug policies, such as needle exchange programs, methadone treatment for heroin addicts, decriminalization, 911 Good Samaritan laws, and other harm-reduction measures.”

If you would like more information about the Chemeketa chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, email Or you can add the group on Facebook at