|The Greatest Debate: Heads vs. Feds|
Posted by CN Staff on December 11, 2002 at 09:01:16 PT|
By Joel Hammond, Sports Editor
Source: BG News
It was high times against hard times last night in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom, as the University Activities Organization presented "The Great Debate," an open-forum discussion about the legalization of marijuana.
The debaters, Steve Hager, editor-in-chief of High Times magazine and Bob Stutman, 25-year veteran of the United States' Drug Enforcement Agency, debated in front of 1,000 people. The debate was moderated by Loren Lomasky, a professor in the Philosophy department.
The debate began with each presenter giving an approximately 15-minute opening statement, which was followed by a question-answer session between the two men and the audience. The debaters ended the event with closing arguments, in which they got a chance to sum up their arguments.
Hager began his opening statement with five reasons why he believes marijuana should be legalized. He began with reasoning that marijuana is good medicine, and argued that the pharmaceutical companies in this country have the highest profit ratio of any other in the nation.
He also said that the other parts of the plant, besides the leaf, can be used to make thousands upon thousands of products that we use on a daily basis, from paper to oil. He continued to explain that we have the biggest prison system in the world -- but that the prisons are not the place for marijuana users.
"Incarcerating non-violent marijuana users is not solving anything," Hager said. "These peaceful people are coming out of their 15-year or 20-year prison terms hardened criminals -- psychopaths."
He also cited corruption in the drug war as a reason for the drug to be legalized, as the same pharmaceutical companies he cited earlier have long been against the legalization of marijuana. His final reason for the legalization of marijuana was that the drug is part of his spiritualization, part of his religion. He said he left the Lutheran faith when he was younger and found a counterculture in the drug.
"If we're going to have freedom of religion in this country, then marijuana should be legal," Hager said. "Marijuana is a religious culture to a lot of people, including myself."
Stutman took the podium after a long ovation for Hager, and wasted no time in rebuking what Hager had said. Much of Stutman's portion of the debate centered around the fact that three groups in this country -- the people, the scientists and courts -- have the decision to make as to whether marijuana should be legalized, and they haven't yet.
He also challenged Hager's claim that marijuana is a religion, that has many followers.
"Steve would argue that 10 guys smoking a doobie on a Saturday night is a religion," Stutman said.
Stutman also used a fundamental argument that if marijuana was legalized, use would go up dramatically. He said in the last 30 years, adolescent use in the United States by 20 percent, while in Amsterdam, where use of the drug is legal, adolescent use has jumped by 170 percent.
The following question-and-answer session was highlighted by an attack on Stutman by the man known as tie-dyed-Tom, who is occasionally seen on the Education building's steps on campus. Tom, in the process of asking Stutman about the choices of law-enforcement agencies to pursue drugs in the "mountains of West Virginia," referred to those agents as "wusses," a term not taken kindly by Stutman.
The closing statements centered around the priorities of drug legalization in the country. Stutman faced many questions about the difference between alcohol and tobacco and marijuana, which he answered vehemently.
"The major difference I see is that we already have two psychoactive chemicals legal," Stutman said. "That does not mean we need three. It's a slippery slope, because the next generation may want to legalize ecstasy. Obviously, that's where problems begin."
Hager argued the priority problem lies not within the differences between marijuana and alcohol, but between marijuana and other drugs that are prescribed regularly to adolescents.
"The problem is when you have these doctors and pharmaceutical companies giving these kids ritalin, and other drugs that have much worse side effects than marijuana," Hager said.
UAO's Nick Gurich, who organized the event with the help of UAO president Jordan Ohler and the rest of the organization, said the event was a big success.
"We were real excited about bringing the event," Gurich said. "We weren't real sure of what the turnout was going to be, but all the students came out real well and behaved them well for the most part. ... You can tell that from the questions being asked and the questions being asked from those questions that a real discourse was being established, that hopefully brought out ideas that informed people."
Related Articles & Web Site:
High Times Magazine
Debate To Focus On Cannabis
UF Group Advocates Marijuana Use
Comment #4 posted by knox42897 on December 11, 2002 at 22:09:45 PT:|
|"The major difference I see is that we already have two psychoactive chemicals legal," Stutman said. "That does not mean we need three. It's a slippery slope, because the next generation may want to legalize ecstasy. Obviously, that's where problems begin." |
Yup, Grandpa and his self employed booze running buddies produced us, so I think the next generation will be cocaine then ecstasy. This guys ahead by a couple generations.
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Comment #3 posted by Whirrlin on December 11, 2002 at 19:44:25 PT:|
|Stutman also used a fundamental argument that if marijuana was legalized, use would go up dramatically. He said in the last 30 years, adolescent use in the United States by 20 percent, while in Amsterdam, where use of the drug is legal, adolescent use has jumped by 170 percent."|
It has been shown in other countries, that when marijuana is suddenly legalized, that it becomes a fad for awhile, but then tapers off in 2 to 3 years. Everyone just has a natural curosity. However I belivie that alot of whether the use rate goes up or down, or whether people particulary adolscents start abusing a substance depends on how it is marketed and controlled. I think one of the major mistakes that the United States has made in Alchol and Tobbacco is allowing it to become completely commercialized. I mean you can't go to a sporting event, concert or pretty much an public event without seeing beer trucks, beer gardens and cirgarettes. Also everytime you turn you tv on, there are the cool ads particulary appealing to adolscents. They have allowed this and then wonder why we have a problem with teenage alcholism and smoking. Although I do not support criminalization, if Marijuana is legalized I feel it should be sold, but their should be strict limits on how it was capitalized upon and marketed. As well as setting the same limits for alcohol and tobacco and for any other enchaning substance. Although I know this would put the Alchol and Tobacco companies in a raging frenzy.
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|Comment #2 posted by BGreen on December 11, 2002 at 17:13:10 PT|
|but the prohibitionists still spew this lie without question from the "press."|
"Stutman also used a fundamental argument that if marijuana was legalized, use would go up dramatically. He said in the last 30 years, adolescent use in the United States by 20 percent, while in Amsterdam, where use of the drug is legal, adolescent use has jumped by 170 percent."
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Comment #1 posted by Whirrlin on December 11, 2002 at 17:02:39 PT:|
|I'm not sure if this particular debate really hit the mark.|
The sort of statements such as:
"His final reason for the legalization of marijuana was that the drug is part of his spiritualization, part of his religion."
"Marijuana is a religious culture to a lot of people, including myself."
should be avoided. This is exactly the kind of talk that make alot of people cringe. The obession of it all. If you smoke marijuana for recreation purposes to relax or for medical purposes fine. However, in trying to reach a spiritualism with any substance its a false sense of spiritualism. True spiritualism comes from within in, from your soul and is powerful enough all on its own, without enchancement. If you find the only way you can feel close to God or feel your soul is to smoke marijuana then,you may have some deeper issues (possibly depression) or maybe you just need to attend a good church service if you haven't been for awhile! Your spirit comes from God not from a plant or any other substances or being. It even says in the bible, (not sure what passage at the moment, somewhere in Exodus I belivie, that says you should abstain from strong drink (and hints to other other enchaning substances as well), on the sabbath, for you shall be clean, before entering the tabernacle. However it does not say anything about any other day.
This sort of statement by Hager is exactly the kind stigma that should be avoided, if the idea of legalization is to be taken seriously by the general public.
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