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Branch of ‘Students for Sensible Drug Policy’ launches at Bristol University

We will neither condemn nor condone drug use, say Bristol students setting up Sensible Drug Policy branch.

By Filiz Emily Gurer, News Editor

We will neither condemn nor condone drug use, say Bristol students setting up Students for Sensible Drug Policy branch.

Bristol students are to launch a local chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international, youth-led network that calls for ‘evidence-led drug policy based on public health & human rights’.

The SSDP aims to ‘mobilize and empower young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future.’

The branch, which will launch on 18 February, is being set up by two Bristol students, Ed Polley and Lilli Waples. It will be the twelfth university chapter of the network in the UK, with fellow branches established at Durham University, LSE and UCL, among others.

The group’s first introductory event will take place on 18 February at 19:30. Attendees will discuss their plans for the chapter and finalise committee positions.

Ed and Lilli explained to Epigram that the SSDP neither condones nor condemns drug use.

Its mission is ‘to replace outdated, harmful drug prohibition policies with policies based on evidence, compassion and reason’, and to ‘open up debate around an issue in which controversy has prevented evidence-based policies’.

The SSDP promotes evidence-based drug policy

The Bristol branch sees the ending of the University’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs as ‘progress’, but believes this does not go far enough.

It hopes to further ‘build on harm reduction programmes already in place within the University such as available drug testing kits, and pressure the University to adopt a clear policy on drugs that recognises the rights and safety of drug users.’

Lilli's goal for Bristol SSDP is ‘to establish a Peer Education Program at Bristol to convey factual information about drugs and drug policy.

‘Students are more likely to turn to other students for advice about drug use than to staff members,’ she said. ‘Therefore I think that a peer-led education scheme has the ability to engage students in an honest discussion about drug use.’

Ed added: ‘I would like to make the chapter a space for discussions around the intersection of drug policy with issues of social and racial justice. Without recognition of these issues, the movement is bound to fail those who have been harmed the most by the war on drugs.’

Ed and Lilli envision that when circumstances allow, Bristol SSDP will help its members to host rallies, meet with policy-makers, and volunteer with local agencies like the Bristol Drugs Project. The branch will also host talks and debates with experts in the field.

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Lilli and Ed encourage students with any views on the issues to attend their events to engage in debate with them.

Featured Image: Epigram / SSDP Twitter

Will you be joining Bristol SSDP's first event on Thursday?