Speakers Inform Students About Drug Legalization

Speakers Inform Students About Drug Legalization
Posted by CN Staff on September 20, 2003 at 21:26:49 PT
By Erene Mina, Staff Writer 
Source: New University 
ASUCI hosted an unprecedented debate regarding the legalization of marijuana held in Humanities Instructional Building 100 on May 28. More than 200 people showed up to get the highs and lows on marijuana from two local speakers. Judge James Gray, a superior court judge in Orange County, strongly condemned current drug policies, while Dr. Michael Stone, addiction medicine specialist, focused on the physiological ramifications of smoking marijuana. 
Marcy Lopez and Carmen Reynaga, co-commissioners of campus affairs programming for ASUCI, were moderators of the event. “A majority of UCI students either use marijuana or are at least interested in the issue of legalizing marijuana,” Reynaga said. Highly critical of the current drug policies in the United States, Gray feels that just because drugs like marijuana are illegal does not mean they are unavailable. “Marijuana is the largest cash crop in the United States today; number two is corn,” Gray said. “We couldn’t make marijuana more available than we are today—and so the question is should we moralize about marijuana use or should we try to manage it?” Gray’s ideas on decriminalizing marijuana include making it and other drugs like heroine and cocaine available to adults 21 and over who are determined to obtain it. Gray also argued that the rampant incarceration of people is not only overcrowding our prisons but taking money away from the prosecution of more dangerous crimes. “We need to redistribute our resources and stop making people automatic criminals. We ought to get them help from professionals,” Gray said. Gray spotlighted alcohol as a more dangerous yet legal and regulated drug. “In my view, marijuana is a far less dangerous drug than alcohol,” Gray said. “The drug that is most equated with violence is alcohol, far and away.” Following Gray’s arguments, Stone opened with a more biological approach to marijuana use. He discussed the differences between addiction and dependency and pointed out that young people have a higher propensity to become dependent on marijuana. “Dependency refers to the physical component where your body needs the drug, but addiction is a combination of physical and psychological components—more of a compulsion,” Stone said. Stone continued by discussing the effects of marijuana. “The biggest thing that marijuana does to those who smoke it is that it takes away classical boredom. It changes the novelty factor, making things more novel than they are,” Stone said Stone agreed with Gray’s statement that marijuana users need to seek professional help rather than be placed in prisons or jails. “I don’t think everyone who smokes marijuana should be in prison,” Stone said. “We should be treating addicts, not putting them in jail.” As a conclusion to the debate, both Gray and Stone seemed to agree on several issues which left some students feeling a bit unsatisfied. “I thought the debate was really one-sided,” said first-year biology major Salma Khoshfekr. “I didn’t expect to come here and watch both of them agree on so much.” Still, some who felt indifferent about the subject left the lecture with a more solid opinion on the issue. “After hearing what Judge Gray had to say I pretty much agree with the points he made,” said first-year criminology major Daniel Berkenkotter. “Legalizing [marijuana] so we can control it is a much better idea and I think that’s what we need to do.” Second-year criminology graduate student Johnny Nhan supported the idea of changing the current laws as well. “I’m not for full legalization, but I’m for the reduction of penalties, Nhan said. “I’d like to see more lenient sentencing and fines.” Second-year film studies and political science major Adam Boothby opposes legalization of marijuana. “I don’t think it should be made legal because of the overuse of it right now,” Boothby said. “By making marijuana legal we would only exponentially increase its use. We see how many people are using it now, so if we make it legal, the sky’s the limit.” Complete Title:  Local Speakers Inform Students About Drug Legalization Source: New University (CA Edu)Author: Erene Mina, Staff Writer Published: September 20, 2003 Copyright: 2003 New University NewspaperContact: newu uci.eduWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Judge James Gray Blasts Drug War at Marijuana Rally on Drugs Needs New Direction on Drugs is a Lost Battle, Judges Say 
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