By Jeremy Orbach

From a very young age, I was told by my father that marijuana should be legal.  I began, at the age of 8, questioning the government policies upheld and enforced by law enforcement, and wondered why there could be any injustice in our political system.  As I aged, I began to read in the news about well-known politicians accepting monetary bribes, and began to wonder about the corruption that goes on in our government.  I always wondered if there was a way to end this culture of corruption and greed in our political system.

When Steve Hager came to speak at my university in late February, I realized I was not alone.  Having been passionate about the spreading of drug policy reform messages in my community, I realized that there were many more people just like me than I realized.  Following Hager’s speech, he expressed a concern that there was no chapter of SSDP at Northern Illinois University, and I immediately wondered if I could share some of the information that I had researched with the community at large.  So, I took it upon myself to start up the chapter here at NIU.  I then found out, only days later, about SSDP’s 11th Annual International Conference in San Francisco, and I immediately applied for a scholarship.  With little hesitation, Amber Langston awarded me a scholarship so that I would be able to afford attending this conference, even though I had gotten involved so recently.

This SSDP conference really and truly changed my life.  Not only did I find out I was not alone in trying to spread the idea of reforming drug laws in my community, but that there were literally hundreds of people across the United States doing the same thing.  I also discovered how much of the corruption going on in our society stemmed from the War on Drugs.  I immediately found my new family that I never knew existed, and they represented one of the most organized movements that I had ever experienced.  Never in a million years did I think I wanted anything to do with politics, yet now, I see staying in politics for the rest of my life.  The people out in San Francisco really cared about the cause, and I found that the bonds I created with other drug policy activists were stronger than that of any of my friends, and even of my family.  I learned the answers to all the questions that have stuck out in my mind over the last decade, and in doing so became empowered to start up the Northern Illinois University Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter.  We are quickly on our way to becoming one of the largest and most passionate chapters in the nation.

I learned that SSDP did not only represent Students for Sensible Drug Policy at this years conference, but it also represented a family.  A family that believed in the future, ending government greed, corruption, and creating a more sensible society for generations to come.  SSDP represents one of the only 100% corruption-free causes.  SSDP for life!

Jeremy Orbach Founder and President of Northern Illinois University SSDP