Students attend, participate in Pot Debate at DU
Issue date: 5/14/10 Section: News
The featured speakers Steve Hager, editor-in-chief for High Times Magazine, and Robert Stutman, veteran of the Drug Enforcement Administration, debated the issues concerning the legalization of marijuana.
The debate, sponsored in part by Drexel Public Safety and the Counseling Center, consisted of opening remarks from both sides, continued by rebuttal arguments, and ended with questions from the audience.
Hager, who opened the debate, listed five reasons to legalize the drug and defended the people who smoke it.
"We're actually good people," Hager said. "We're as American as baseball and rock 'n roll. Our connection to this plant is very strong."
Stutman described marijuana in blunter terms in his opening argument.
"I will present facts, and some of you might not like what I have to say," Stutman said. "Most Americans want it legal because it's their recreational drug of choice and they just don't want the cops around hassling them when they're getting stoned."
The arguments covered a variety of issues surrounding marijuana such as health. Hager argued the medicinal qualities that it holds and Stutman argued the possible health concerns it might cause.
"There are 435 chemicals in cannabis," said Stutman "Of those, only two are good medicine and the rest are all extraneous and possibly hazardous."
The men got specific in discussing the way in which the drug is consumed.
After Stutman brought up the health risks of inhaling smoke, Hager made sure to clarify that he does not endorse smoking it but recommends users "vaporize it, drink it in tea, or put it in brownies," thus incurring a few claps from the audience.
The core of Stutman's argument rested on several beliefs.
"If we legalize it, we will have far more users," Stutman said to the student audience. "Marijuana causes dependence. Not everybody, not even most, but you all know that one person who just can't get by without it."
One thing that both debaters agreed on was the way law enforcement officials handle marijuana possession.
"Look at our prisons. There are too many people in jail over it," said Hager. "Locking up all these people is not a solution to anything."
Hager went on in his disapproval of the law to defend his opponent by asking the students in the audience not to blame law enforcement officials for doing their jobs.
Stutman agreed calling jail time for possession "a stupid public policy."
"Don't let anybody make you feel guilty about getting together with your friends and celebrating," Hager said in his closing argument. "There is an epidemic of depression in this country and one of the best cures is happiness. So don't feel guilty about getting together and raising your spirits."
Stutman closed by citing a previous statement made by his opponent and asking the audience to really think about their choices.
"Don't be fooled guys. You are smarter than that," Stutman said. "You know that the choices you make could affect you farther down the road."
By the end of the debate, Carolyn Gamble, a freshman biomedical engineering major, was still not completely swayed by either side of the argument. Gamble said she remains on the fence about legalization but supports drug policy reform.