Students for Sensible Drug Policy push for progressive legislation

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Members of Students for Sensible Drug Policy — Natalie Cerna (left), advertising freshman and the group’s outreach coordinator, and Stephanie Hamborsky, biology and Plan II junior and the club’s president — want to educate students about drug policies.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

Twenty-three states have legalized some form of marijuana, and, if Students for Sensible Drug Policy have their way, Texas will be next.

The group seeks to educate the student population about the federal government’s War on Drugs. Stephanie Hamborsky, biology and Plan II junior and the club’s president, said many drug policies do not make sense.

“Drug policy is inherently contradictory and is not based on objective information,” Hamborsky said. “It’s unscientific, and a lot of it is based off of social stigma. Because we are demonizing these drugs, we are rejecting the idea of drug education, which gives the misrepresented idea about drugs, facilitating the increase rates of addiction.”

Hamborsky said the group discusses how issues of race determine drug policy.  

“Drug use among all ethic groups is about the same, whereas we see black people being arrested five to six more times than white people,” Hamborsky said. “We’re not in a post-racial world; people aren’t color-blind. We’re discriminating against people, and our laws are facilitating that.” 

Andrew Hood, biochemistry and mathematics sophomore and the club’s vice president, said the group does not advocate the use of drugs. Rather, it focuses on how to create policies that would keep the community safe. Hood said a good example is the medical amnesty policy, which protects minors from legal consequences if they need medical attention after consuming alcohol. 

“[Overdose] can be prevented if we had an amnesty policy that extended past alcohol into other drugs,” Hood said. “Why is it that alcohol gets special treatment?” 

Every meeting starts with an educational presentation that discusses topics ranging from harm reduction and test kits to myth and facts about the stigmas of drugs — all to boost awareness and safety among students. 

“If a person chooses to use drugs, how can they make that a safer process?” Hood said. 

The group plans to lobby, hold letter-writing campaigns and collaborate with bigger groups, such as Texas NORML — a group that works for the reformation of marijuana laws. The members also plan to fundraise and bring educational speakers, such as Brad Burge, who works for a drug research group, to further educate the student body.

“A lot of people underestimate how much power the student body has at UT,” Hood said. “We’re in the center of Texas; we’re right next to the Capitol. We can get a lot done; we can make our voices heard.” 

Advertising freshmen Natalie Cerna, the group’s outreach coordinator, said her knowledge on Texas policies has grown from being part of the club. 

“Since last semester, I have gotten more passionate about it,” Cerna said. “I didn’t really know a lot of things about what was going on in Texas and all the new laws being passed. And it’s really cool being a part of something that can make such a big difference.”

Club meetings are held every Wednesday at 8 p.m. in MEZ 1.120. The group welcomes everyone, no matter beliefs or stance. 

“We want anyone and everyone,” Hamborsky said. “We want different opinions and different backgrounds.”