By Marissa Murray, Staff Writer
The Students for a Sensible Drug Policy club (SSDP) at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) is becoming more active in the community and in the state.
Anthonie Phillis, junior and president of SSDP, and members of the club went down to Portland on Monday the 5th to help local groups, like David Boyer and the Marijuana Policy Project, phone bank for Question 1. Question 1 is an ordinance that will allow adults 21 and over to recreationally smoke marijuana and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
“What it will also do is spark an interest in Maine and, hopefully, get the rest of the state to follow the movement,” said Phillis.
Phillis described phone banking as calling the residents and the surrounding area that are allowed to vote. “We ask them ‘are you registered to vote?,’ ‘have you considered voting for the legalization of marijuana?,’” said Phillis. “Not persuading them, but kind of persuading them.”
Question 1 was passed after the vote on the 6th with about 70 percent of the vote.
SSDP is in charge of the Green Beaver Fest at UMF. The club tries to get local groups to come and have stands by the amphitheater.
“Last time, the Maine Green Cross was there, and Homegrown Connection, and other supporters of, basically, medical marijuana,” said Phillis. “It usually has a few bands there and, this year, we are going to try to put fire spinning down there.”
SSDP will also be trying to incorporate different events into the school year. “We are looking do do some movie showings, and possibly have some speakers,” said Phillis.
There is also talk of finding a room for meditation. “A place to relax before finals and midterms, basically to try and keep kids from doing stupid things,” said Phillis. “If they are stressed out, have them come here.”
Sophomore and member, Jocelyn Jackson commented on what the group is trying to do. The club wants to change the stereotype they have been given in the past. Jackson said that people assume that they are just a “bunch of stoners; that we just get together and smoke.”
“We are trying to change the name (the club has been given in the past),” said Jackson. “ We are not sitting around, complaining about this stuff, and just smoking. We are actually doing something about it and being heard.”
SSDP is much more active this year. Phillis said everyone is “running around and doing things.” He also plans to attend the National SSDP conference this year. The club would take its leading five members to the conference.
“It’s this huge workshop where they elaborate on how you can promote change and how you can get things passed in your community and looking at the laws,” said Phillis.
UMF has the only SSDP club in the state. “In saying that, one of our goals is to reach out to other schools,” said Phillis. “We would go there and give a presentation and say ‘this is how you can help your school.’ A lot of schools have “No Smoking” on campus, but it’s iffy. Our school is pretty definite; they just put up green signs.”
SSDP meets on Wednesdays in Roberts 209b at 7 p.m.
“The message I always try to promote is that we are trying to make a change in the community, in the schools,” said Phillis. “We already put in the Good Samaritan Act and the Higher Education Act. They get people into colleges financially. It’s a very proactive group.”