The idea of ending the War on Drugs is something that is still relatively controversial, especially in a conservative state. Many conservatives don't want to end the War on Drugs, and they feel that drugs do not have a place in their society. Although they identify as Constitutionalists and embrace small government, they fail to see how this war on members of society grows government. Our club decided to show a conservative state the error of their ways by holding an "End the Drug War" event on our campus.
Utah is one of the most supportive states in the country for the War on Drugs. According to the Libertas Institute here in Utah, well over 50% of the state's population does not support the legalization of marijuana for either recreational or medical uses. With those facts, we can only imagine that Utahns would disagree with legal drugs like cocaine and heroin. Our chapter at Southern Utah University decided to take this battle head on, and inform the community about the issues that the drug war has brought upon our society.
On November 5th our chapter hosted an "End the Drug War" event on our campus. We tabled for 3 days leading up to the event to attract a crowd and received a few negative comments from the students and community. We felt that this was an important issue to educate the community about, so we decided to continue our plans and host our event. At our table we had literature and handouts available to educate students. They were provided by the Drug Policy Alliance. Many students seemed interested in learning about our arguments, and we attracted a pretty good crowd. We were even attracted the local school paper to cover our event and help us spread the word.
Through SFL's Virtual Speaker Bureau, we were able to host Jack A. Cole, one of the founders of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), as a virtual speaker. We hosted Jack Cole through Skype, and he laid out his arguments for ending the War on Drugs. He lectured for an hour to a group of 30 students and community members. Many students found his arguments interesting, but they were still skeptical.
While we felt some negative push-back, we were happy to plant these new ideas into a conservative campus and state. We wanted to make the discussion non-taboo and noncontroversial, so by legitimizing these arguments, we are able to start a new debate in the community. We hope that this will continue to encourage change, especially in a community that doesn't want change in regard to the War on Drugs.