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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Life + Arts

Group challenges drug policy

Member of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy were out in full force trying to recruit support for a petition to create a Good Samaritan law. | Travis Hensley/The Daily Cougar

Members of students for Sensible Drug Policy were collecting signatures at the University Center on Tuesday, attempting to get a Good Samaritan Law approved by the Student Government Associate Senate.

“Our immediate goal is to get a Good Samaritan Law passed and to encourage the students to get involved,” said political science senior Michael Blunk, founder of the UH’s SSDP chapter and member of the National Board of Directors. “Beyond that, we just want to promote any sort of policy that is going to help the students and keep them out of harm’s way.”

SSDP is an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on communities, according to their Web site. They formed in response to the belief that “the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society.”

Blunk said that the UH group is part of a network of 120 nationwide units, with 300 expected to be formed by the end of this year.

SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting against counterproductive “Drug War” policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth, according to its Web site.

“Really, the great thing about SSDP is that we work on any drug policy issue that affects students,” Blunk said. “So, where the U.S. may have some of the most restrictive policies, we’re trying to just emphasize public health issues, preventing students from overdosing and dying.”

Blunk says UH does not have a set punishment for some of the issues that concern his group. He says most of the decisions are made by the assistant dean of students, who typically is considerate of those brought up for discipline.

“Our dean is actually quite favorable usually. They follow the merits of a Good Samaritan policy anyway, but we want to codify it and make it formal,” Blunk said, adding that currently it is not clear what will happen if a student is caught on campus with drugs. His group wants to have the policy spelled out for students so there is no uncertainty.

“We can’t control what the police do. But, most of the time, when an EMT comes into an overdose situation, they’re not going to have the police come in right away because they are concerned with getting students the help they need,” he said.

“What we can do is make sure the dean of students doesn’t double punish a student. Because if someone is already facing a criminal fine or prison time, there is no reason they should face a University fine, too, or possible dorm expulsion or campus expulsion,” he added.

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