Thursday, 31 March 2011

Leeds Metropolitan - Leading the way on Student Union Drug Policy (part 2)

For the lead up to this, if you haven't read already, please see the story so far.

As you may be aware, a policy motion was submitted to Leeds Metropolitan Student's Union, achieving 83.27% in favour at the referendum in March. However, due to low voter turn-out the policy was not automatically accepted and was to be taken to the Student Representative Council (SRC).

The policy motion, if adopted would mandate the union;
  • To commit to a full, open and honest debate about drugs with as much of the membership as possible.
  • To involve relevant agencies in our decisions.
  • To seek to influence decision makers to review and radically overhaul the way the country views and controls these substances.
  • To campaign to decriminalise the possession of substances for personal use.
  • To oppose any cuts to primary health services which would be prejudicial to the public health.
On the 29th of March the SRC convened to discuss issues surround the running of the Union, including the two policy motions that received majority support at referendum. I had prepared a little speech for the meeting, however, due to the policy motion being discussed twice before at SRC, it was decided not to discuss these motions and to go straight to a vote.

I have to be honest, I wasn't too sure that the policy would pass. It's usually such an uphill struggle for institutions to accept what is commonly seen as a radical proposal. I was bracing myself for it to fail. Those in favour were asked to raise their hands first, a good number raised their hands but not enough to ensure it passing. Then followed those against, and for a few fleeting moments a real panic struck me as the first few hands started to raise. Luckily, after the initial few hands, none more followed.

The policy PASSED!

I have the great joy of being able to announce that after everything I've done to make this happen, Leeds Metropolitan University Student's Union is the first Student's Union in the country to accept the War on Drugs is a War on People and to oppose the victimization of millions of people every year. When I finish my time at university, and I still have at least two years left to achieve more, I can proudly say I made some level of a difference in trying to change our system in what can sometimes feel like an endless war.

I'd like to give a special thank you to Jo Johnson (Community and Well-being officer at LMUSU), and those at Leeds Metropolitan who've supported me over the last couple of months.

Love, peace, and all things nice,
until next time,
Ashley. x

Thursday, 10 March 2011

SSDP UK Conference to be held at the St Thomas Conference Centre in Manchester

The European Student Drug Policy Reform Conference: Another Bloody Birthday will be held at:

St. Thomas Conference Centre
Ardwick Green North,
M12 6FZ

25-27th of March 2011

There is only just over a day left for students to apply for free accommodation at conference.
Register here now and apply for accommodation here!

Otherwise, the conference is open to all members of the public who want to be better drug policy activists!

See you there,

National Coordinator

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Leeds Metropolitan - Leading the way on Student Union Drug Policy

Elections for University Union Exec. and Policy Referendums are some of the most important dates in a student activist's calendar. It's your chance to influence how your Union is run, and the direction it takes on important policy issues.

I'm currently studying at Leeds Metropolitan University, trying to get Leeds Metropolitan SSDP up and running on the campus, and have had good success running joint events between Leeds Met and Leeds Uni. Unfortunately I've found the task of setting up a LMSU SSDP a difficult task; the union does not share LUU's strangely political environment. But I've not been deterred in trying to make an impact upon the union politics, having become chair of the Unions' Drugs Forum, and got involved with other areas of campaigning where I can find the time.

As the chair of the Drugs Forum I have a seat on the Union's Council and I seconded a policy motion to go to Union Referendum. The Controlled Substance Policy would mandate LMSU to campaign for the decriminalisation of drug use, oppose any cuts to drug related health services, and have an open and honest debate about drugs on campus. Taking on the role of the Yes campaigner for the motion, I spent several days travelling around the University to open up the discussion about drugs on campus, collecting over 200 e-mail addresses whilst I was at it.

I received a mixed reaction from people, as always, with some just not being able to accept that anything other than banning drugs could reduce harm to society. No matter of explaining that the most harm that comes from drugs is where they're acquired, how they're taken, and how we as a society treat them. I was also able to get an article published in the student paper, here is an altered copy for a national audience;

The results of the referendum;


83.27% (418 votes)


16.73% (84 votes)

So a victory for sensible drug policy! Except it isn't... The Union has rules stating that referendum motions need 700 votes cast to be recognised. Which seems fair, until you learn that not a SINGLE policy has passed due to this factor. Luckily for me because the result was in favour, and by a big margin, it shall be brought to the next Union Council Meeting where I shall have to convince the Union it should enact the policy motion despite not reaching the bench-mark.

I'll let you know how it goes. :)

To see how things went, please see the next part.

European Student Drug Policy Reform Conference

European Student Drug Policy Reform Conference: Another Bloody Birthday

Drug War Revisited

Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK’s Second Annual Conference

25th-27th of March 2011

On the weekend of the 25-27th of March 2011, activists from across Europe will meet in Manchester to mark the many drug war anniversaries that will take place this year. In 1961 member states of the United Nations signed the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs aiming to tackle the availability of certain substances.

Ten years later, Richard Nixon declared an all out War on Drugs. Since then the world has seen untold horrors in the struggle between those who wish to take drugs and those who wish to eradicate all use. Do we really need to wait another 40, 50 years to resolve this issue with compassion and reason?

Do not miss Another Bloody Birthday, a conference for students and activists from across Europe and beyond to share experiences as activists and learn about the failed global war on drugs. The event is open to the public and all people interested in becoming better activists.

Register here before the 22nd of March!