In brief, how did you get involved with Canadian drug policy?
My interest in drug policy stemmed from experiences volunteering at a shelter, where I met many individuals struggling with substance use. Following this, I became interested in the policies surrounding these issues. I saw things could be done to improve policies and the way people were treated. So, I joined CSSDP to collaborate with others on this, and other related issues.
I joined the McGill chapter last September. Andrew and Nancy, two of the McGill chapter members, were starting the McGill chapter and I became involved with it. Then, in December of 2015, I joined the board of directors for the national organization.
What tasks and responsibilities come with being on the board of directors ?
In addition to serving on the board of directors, I am the international representative for the organization. I [communicate with other youth drug policy organizations around the world, such as Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Together, we are planning an NGO training with different drug policy organizations, to take place in Thailand. We would acquire training in drug policy related issues and fundraising strategies.
I am also the chair of the conference planning committee. CSSDP is planning a 2017 conference in May in Montreal, so I am attempting to organize the logistics with some other volunteers and board members of CSSDP. The project is in the early stages and will develop with more work in the future. We need to find speakers and a location, and then plan the logistics for people coming from the United States and elsewhere. We’ll need to advertise the event and get local press for it.
Finally, as a CSSDP board member, I have been a representative of CSSDP at the SSDP conference. I was also a representative for CSSDP for a consultation held by the Canadian government through the Centre on Substance Use and Addiction too. The Canadian Government was attempting to inform Canadian drug policies. In general, my role in CSSDP is to provide representation for the organization itself. I have to find opportunities and guide the future acts of the organization.
What do you consider the core principle of CSSDP?
The unique aspect of CSSDP [in contrast to other drug policy organizations] is that most of us are students and we are directly representing the voice of youth. Most drug policy organizations do not have youth as the focus.
Where do you hope CSSDP goes into the future?
There are chapters in universities across Canada. I hope for the organization to spread further and have representation throughout Canada in high schools as well. That is, to have more influence and opportunity in terms of student politics and drug policy, even at a local institutional level.
Here at McGill, we are hoping to have the student body or the student society provide drug-checking services. These harm reduction measures are not on the national or regional level, but it would make a considerable difference in the lives of students attending McGill and provide further impetus for change in other areas of the country.