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Decriminalize Nature and Students For Sensible Drug Policy Join to Create Community Healing Alliance

To decriminalize the use of entheogens, two advocacy organizations have joined forces to fight against the War on Drugs. Decriminalize nature (DN) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy(SSDP) released a joint press release on January 27, stating that the two advocacy organizations are collaborating to decriminalize entheogens and end the War on Drugs.

These two organizations share a history of drug advocacy. This collaboration will undoubtedly help strengthen both. Myc Williams is a member of the SSDP Board and also codirector of DN Michigan. He believes that such a partnership will be essential for moving forward. “A national alliance of these two organizations is a unique opportunity to tackle the harms of the drug war from all sides,” Williams said. “We are paving a path of unity that addresses both the injustices of current drug policy and provides accessible avenues for healing from the traumas that have occurred as a result.”

Other people, including Jason Ortiz (Executive Director of SSDP), are optimistic that this campaign is just the beginning. “We are uniting today to build the power needed to correct the profit driven framing being forced on us by corporations and their countless lobbyists,” said Ortiz. “This alliance will pair youth leaders with community practitioners to ensure that decriminalization and reparations are the priority for the drug policy movement as we end the disastrous and malicious war on drugs. Wherever they have a lobbyist, we will have an organized community ready to meet them.”

Many of the other DN/SSDP members, in various capacities, made hopeful remarks about the Community Healing Alliance. Larry Norris who was one of the founders of DN said that SSDP has worked with DN before, and this formal move to bind them together will increase support. Julie Barron, DN National Board member shared the excitement about what these two organizations can do for those in need.

Many research studies have shown that drug possession and use incarceration does not increase public safety or health. A study conducted in January 2010, entitled “Treating Drug Abuse and Addiction in the Criminal Justice System: Improving Public Health and Safety,” suggested that convicting people of drug-related crimes simply spotlights the need to focus on other ways target the problem. “Punishment alone is a futile and ineffective response to drug abuse, failing as a public safety intervention for offenders whose criminal behavior is directly related to drug use,” the study concludes. “Addiction is a chronic brain disease with a strong genetic component that in most instances requires treatment. The increase in the number of drug-abusing offenders highlights the urgency to institute treatments for populations involved in the criminal justice system.” Furthermore, there are studies suggesting that prison therapy to treat drug addictions can be harmful, not helpful, to an individual’s recovery.

SSDP as well as DN have done many great things in the past. Despite being a newer organization in advocacy, DN was established in Oakland in 2019 and has since grown to include chapters in over 50 U.S. towns. It also helped make entheogens legal in 14 other cities. Its mission is to improve the lives of people interested in using entheogenic plants as a natural alternative to medical treatment, and also expand access by advocating for decriminalization “through political and community organizing, education and advocacy.”

Since last year, many chapters have actively worked to decriminalize their respective jurisdictions. Colorado’s Decriminalize Nature Boulder Chapter has been trying to modify the language for a proposed decriminalization initiative that will be on the next year’s ballot. The signature collection campaign was spearheaded by Decriminalize Nature Michigan last year.

SSDP was established in 1998. It now has over 100 chapters across the U.S. and thousands of members. This organization aims to inspire new generations by helping them to learn more about politics and to fight against any causes that could harm students or other youth members.

You can learn more about these organizations or make a donation to support the grassroots effort for SSDP and DP.