Students for Sensible Drug Policy voice viewpoints at D.C. conference

Caitlin Restelli

Kent State’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy

chapter arrived in Washington D.C. to find they had no place to stay after traveling there to talk with conservatives about drug policy Thursday.

Gary Johnson, former New Mexican governor, told SSDP he would provide 25 hotel rooms for up to 200 members to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, said Tom Zocolo, SSDP member and junior exploratory major. Johnson provided only eight hotel rooms.

“He kind of screwed us out of funding,” said SSDP member Hannah Brehm.

The SSDP national organization took care of gas money, and the group stayed at member Brehm’s house in Virginia, eight miles out of the city.

At the conference, the members had the opportunity to present their viewpoints to conservatives.

“There were pretty interesting watchdog groups that supported us,” Brehm said. “There were interesting other groups that were at least open to our ideas.”

According to its website, SSDP is an international network of students who are concerned with the impact drug abuse has on the communities. The organization neither condones nor condemns the use of drugs, but rather respects individuals’ rights to their own health and looks to ending the drug war.

Brehm said she is very much liberal and felt out of place stepping into a conservative convention, but “it was really cool to see different points of view.”

Politicians who have hopes of running for the 2012 presidential election funded student organizations to attend CPAC and vote for them in the straw polls, said Dave Goldshtein, SSDP member and junior political science major. A straw poll is an unofficial vote, and the conferences’ attendees were asked who their first and second choice was for the 2012 presidential election.

The student organizations were “basically being bought off by politicians,” Brehm said. But the group still voted in the straw polls for Johnson.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul received the most votes with 30 percent; Massachusetts’s former Gov. Mitt Romney came in second with 23 percent and Gary Johnson came in third with 6 percent.

“I guess you would get that on either side of the political spectrum,” Goldshtein said. “Whether it’s a conservative candidate or a liberal candidate.”

Goldshtein said he realizes there are many different viewpoints to their cause and “took away that there’s still some people on the right wing side that support the cause that we’re fighting for.”

Contact Caitlin Restelli at [email protected].