Page 1

Connecting The Dots 2012 Midwest Regional Conference UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

NOVEMBER 9-10, 2012



CONTENTS About SSDP and Welcome .......................................................... 3 Detailed Schedule ........................................................................... 4 Conference Panel Descriptions................................................... 5 Speaker Biographies ................................................................... 6-7 Conference Locations, Transportation, and Lodging.........8 Directions .............................................................................................8


Students for Sensible Drug Policy About Our Organization Mission Statement

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth. • • • • • •

Key Values Shared power and authority Youth-controlled agenda Collaboration and partnership Constituent-specific strategies Learning Diversity and inclusion

Welcome to the 2012 Midwest Regional SSDP Conference! This year, our chapter at the University of Michigan welcomes you to the 2012 Midwest Regional SSDP Conference! This conference serves to unite the Midwest SSDP student, alumni, and supporter networks for a weekend of education, discussion, networking, expert presentations, and training to help us refine our skills as advocates to end the destructive war on drugs. Please use this time to connect with drug policy reformers from all over the Midwest, speak to our conference speakers, and learn about sensible alternatives to the policies associated with the war on drugs.

Values Statement

SSDP neither condones nor condemns drug use, rather we respect the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health and well-being. We encourage honest conversation about the realities of the drug war.

UMICH SSDP Welcomes You!


Detailed Schedule Friday November 9th: 7:00 AM-9:30 PM Welcome Reception and Registration (Clarion Hotel and Conference Center) Saturday November 10th: 9:00 AM-10:00 AM Registration 9:30 AM-10:00 AM Simple Breakfast 10:00 AM-11:00AM Opening Address: Assembly Hall “Lobbying For Legalization: How politicians think – and how to influence them” Leon Drolet, Michigan Taxpayers Alliance 11:15 AM-12:15 PM Discussion: Assembly Hall “The Science of Drugs and Policy" Chris Chiles, SSDP Alumnus and Former SSDP International Board Member 12:30 PM-1:30PM Session 1 Breakout (2 tracks) Panel 1: “Moving Beyond The Meeting”: Chapter Recruitment Workshop: East Conference Room (Speakers: Matthew Neadham, Steve Rzeppa) Panel 2: “Diversifying Our Movement”: Chapter Diversity Panel: West Conference Room (Speakers: Emily Basham, Nick Zetell) 1:30 PM-2:45 PM Lunch On Your Own 2:45 PM-3:45 PM Session 2 Breakout (2 tracks) Panel 1: “Shaking the Money Tree: Chapter Fundraising Workshop”: East Conference Room (Speakers: Audrey Armitage, Devon Tackels) Panel 2: “Michigan Moms United Against the War on Drugs”: West Conference Room (Speakers: Charmie Gholson) 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Session 2 Breakout (2 tracks) Panel 1: “Just Say Know: Reality Based Drug Education on Campus”: East Conference Room (Speakers: TBA) Panel 2: “We’re All in This Together: Building Coalitions Within Movements”:West Conference Room (Speakers: Leon Drolet, Mike Liszewski, Charmie Gholson, Matt Abel) 5:15 PM-6:00 PM Conference Closing: Assembly Hall


Panels and Workshops Moving Beyond The Meeting: Chapter Recruitment Workshop Building a movement on your campus isn’t easy, and transcending traditional recruitment models can be hard. The panel will discuss how you can creatively capture your campuses attention through many avenues of recrutiment. Students will learn about successful events, tabling techniques, and ways you can get your chapter noticed on campus. Diversifying Our Movement In order to succeed, any movement must be united yet diverse. Whether that movement is related to politics, social justice, or civil liberties -- or, as in the case of SSDP, all three - it is of prime importance to make sure voices from all perspectives are heard and welcomed and their actions recognized. This meeting will empower students with skills to coalition build with both organizations and individuals on drug policy reform, and will inspire introspection about ways in which we can improve our organization so that it better fits the needs of those who are disproportionately underrepresented within the drug policy reform movement. How do you think we can grow and improve? Shaking The Money Tree: Chapter Fundraising Made Easy Getting money for your chapter can be one of the hardest things you do as student orgnanizers. This panel will address 7 succesful methods that work for SSDPers. Students will leave the panel with a better understanding of how to sustain a chapter monetarily, by creating a stream of revenue through the activism you already take part in. Topics of discussion include: Moms United To End The War on Drugs Michigan Moms United to End the War on Drugs (MMU) is a campaign to educate legislators, the media and communities about how the failed drug war intersects with and destroys families. They are currently focusing on reforming Michigan's civil asset forfeiture laws, creating drug task force and police accountability, and creating dialogue between Child Protective Services and the medical marijuana community in order to protect the rights of parents who use medical marijuana. This panel will focus on their efforts, what Moms United and SSDP can do to continue to work together, and how students can get involved with Moms United. Just Say Know: Transcending DARE and Embracing Reality Based Drug Education As members of the “DARE Generation,” we have all seen the failures of our current drug education programs. As scholars, and activists, we should be re-focusing our efforts to rebuild a new reality based drug education paradigm that is grounded in harm reduction, public health, and science. This panel aims to open the discussion as to how students can initiate change within their own campus drug education programs. SSDP can reach the students that will bring this type of education to their campuses, and this panel can help them bring faculty and administrators to the table. We’re All In This Together: Building Coalitions Within Movements The War on Drugs impacts many different segments of society. It is crucial that drug policy activists develop strong relationships with allies in within other movements, but also within our own. As students, we have more political leverage when we stand unified with other members of our drug policy reform community. This panel will discuss how drug policy advocates can build coalitions with other reform organizations, lawmakers, and students to create a powerful impetus for reform from a student perspective.


Speakers Matt Abel Matthew R. Abel has been a criminal defense lawyer in Michigan for 25 years. He founded Cannabis Counsel, P.L.C., a Michigan law firm entirely devoted to cannabis clients and cases, providing both business advice and legal counseling as well as criminal defense of marijuana cases throughout Michigan. Since passage of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, the practice has rapidly grown to include not only business clients and issues, but also employment, drug testing, probation, family law and landlord-tenant issues surrounding cannabis.The firm's client list includes patients, caregivers, clubs, collectives, dispensaries, garden suppliers, physicians, publishers and other entrepreneurs in the medical marijuana field. Audrey Armitage Audrey is a third year student at the University of Michigan, double majoring in Creative Writing and Asian Studies, with a focus on Chinese. She is currently treasurer of the University of Michigan SSDP chapter and the Michigan Political Union. Audrey was born and raised in Michigan, and joined SSDP during her second year at U of M after learning about the multi-faceted injustices of the War on Drugs, and plans to keep activism an important part of her life. Emily Basham Emily is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan with degrees in Environmental Science and Political Science. During her college years she held many leadership positions within the UM chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, including Executive Director and, most recently, Diversity Outreach Chair. SSDP played a crucial role in her education not only on drug policy issues and reform, but also the larger landscape of social issues and injustices. Her experiences with SSDP taught her the fundamentals of grassroots organizing, political strategizing, and community outreach. She takes those skills with her into the workforce having worked on the campaign for Proposal 3, a renewable energy standard on Michigan’s 2012 ballot.

Chris Chiles

Michael Liszewski

Chris is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. During his time as a student, he founded the University of Michigan SSDP chapter, which was recognized with SSDP’s Outstanding Chapter Award in its first year of formation (2007). Chris also received SSDP’s Outstanding Activist award in his second year as executive director of the chapter (2008). Chris was elected to and served two years on SSDP’s National Board of Directors (2008-2010) and also organized a Midwest Regional Conference (2009). Since graduation, Chris has continued to work on drug policy reform in many ways, including work for the Multi-disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

Mike Liszewski is Policy Director at Americans for Safe Access. He is a 2011 graduate of the UDC School of Law, where he founded the school's LSSDP chapter. While at UDC, Mike helped lead a lobbying effort that defeated a poisonous "gang injunction" bill and represented D.C. high school students in disciplinary and special education matters. He served as a student member of SSDP's Board of Directors (2010-2012) and the ACLU-NCA (2010-2011). At ASA, Mike researched and drafted the original version HR 6335, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) in August, which would ban the federal government from using civil asset forfeiture against medical cannabis dispensaries. When not Mike is not advocating, he's often pitching for SSDP's One Hitters softball team or "singing" and playing guitar in his band, Stop Worrying & Love the Bomb.

Leon Drolet Leon is Chair of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, the states most prominent taxpayer rights organization. His areas of expertise include politics, public policy, media relations and non-profit organizations. Leon Drolet served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2000-2006. Drolet also served as a Macomb County, Michigan county commissioner from 1999–2000 and from 2006-2008. Prior to winning elected office, Drolet was chief-ofstaff for three different state legislators. After serving his final term in the Michigan state House, Drolet founded the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, which he continues to Chair. Drolet also has worked as an Educational Programs Director for the Institute for Humane Studies, an affiliate of George Mason University, where he specialized in assisting students seeking careers in fields where they can advance the ideas of liberty. Charmie Gholson Charmie Gholson is a national drug policy reform advocate and founder of Michigan Moms United to End the War on Drugs- a campaign working to educate the media, legislators and communities about how the failed drug war intersects with and destroys families. Charmie previously worked as a staff writer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and serves on the national Moms United To End the War on Drugs steering committee. Charmie speaks on a wide range of topics: the rise of paramilitary drug raids, policing for profit, how the prohibition skews police priorities and Wise Woman/Informed Health Care.

Matthew Neadham Matt Needham is a Junior at Michigan State University where he is pursuing a degree in Political Theory. Matt previously served as President of the Michigan State College Libertarians and is currently a member of the Executive Board of Students For Liberty as SFL's Midwest Regional Director. This summer, Matt participated in the Koch Summer Fellows Program as a member of the investigative reporting team at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Matt is interested in training the future leaders of a free society and believes that ownership of one’s body is an essential principle of a free society. Steve Rzeppa Steve is a junior at the University of Michigan in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. His focus area is in economic and community development, and is also studying a minor in History focusing on contemporary American history. He is the Legislative Action Committee Chair at U of M's chapter of SSDP and also serves as Vice Chair of the Diversity Affairs Committee in Central Student Government. Steve is very intersted in politics and has recently been working on a campaign for a candidate for State Representative in his home district of Trenton, Michigan


Speakers Devon Tackels Devon is an Outreach Director for SSDP. He got involved with drug policy reform when he founded the SSDP chapter at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008, and then served as President until 2011 while studying psychology and political science. As President, Devon worked to build strong relationships with the university administration and helped create “Just Say Know”, an evidence-based drug education program that is taught in partnership by students and university health officials. He also worked to promote statewide drug policy reform by organizing, lobbying, and testifying in front of the Virginia House of Delegates in support of statewide cannabis decriminalization. Nick Zettell Nick is a senior at the University of Michigan studying American Culture and Medical Anthropology. He has served on for the Michigan SSDP chapter's board of directors for three years and was executive director from 2011-2012. Nick has worked alongside and collaborated with Michigan Mom's United to End the Drug War and other organizationshas in his work with SSDP. He organized the 2011 annual Ann Arbor Hash Bash in 2011 and 2012, and has recently been working with the Central Student Government and others to form a committee to raise awareness about Medical Amnesty. Nick also works with SSDP’s AMPLIFY Project to share SSDP’s message of drug policy reform and harm reduction at concerts and music festivals.

Join a Chapter. Start a Chapter. Lead the conversation on your campus today.

Photos Courtesy of: Evan Banks, Jef Stevens,, and


Important Locations, Transportation, & Directions

Important Places University of Michigan: Rackham Graduate School 915 East Washington Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109 Clarion Hotel and Conference Center 2900 Jackson Avenue   Ann Arbor, MI 48103 (734) 665-4444 Post-Conference Networking Social Nick Zettell’s House 511 Lawrence St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Travel From Conference to Hotel

Online Conference Resource Page

Important Phone Numbers Devon Tackels, SSDP Outreach Director 202.683.8449 Murphy Van Sparentak, UMich SSDP President 248.410.8368 Nick Zettell, UMich SSDP VP 231.286.7898 Local Taxi Service 734.663.8898

University of Michigan Conference Map

2012 Midwest Regional SSDP Conference Program  

2012 Midwest Regional SSDP Conference Program

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you