Legality of Marijuana Debated at Kenyon

Legality of Marijuana Debated at Kenyon
Posted by CN Staff on April 18, 2008 at 11:48:24 PT
By Anton Hepler, News Staff Reporter 
Source: Mount Vernon News 
Gambier, OH -- Kenyon College hosted a debate on Thursday on the subject of legalized marijuana. Representatives of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws argued to legalize marijuana while Mary Samuell of the Knox County Drug and Alcohol Freedom Center and Noel Alden, a criminal defense attorney, argued against. More than 100 students gathered in Gund Hall to watch the debate.
Titled “Doobie Do or Doobie Don’t” the event was sponsored by Kenyon Counselor Mike Durham and the student-based Alcohol and Drug Education Program Team. Durham said the purpose of the event was to bring both sides of the argument together and educate students on the issue.Cher Neufer of NORML said the issue was a basic civil liberties question. “People lose their jobs just because they smoke a joint. There’s no test to see if someone is under the influence at any given time. If someone smokes a joint over the weekend and tests positive for marijuana on Monday why should they lose their job if they’re not under the influence?” said Neufer.Neufer argued that even non-marijuana users would benefit. “It would free up the police force to pursue other crimes,” said Neufer. “It would also be less money on the war on drugs, period. It seems the war on drugs gets worse the more money [the government] spends.”Noel Alden disagreed, “Even the most liberal person would agree on certain provisions in any legalization law. There would be restrictions against driving under the influence, operating heavy machinery, and so on. All of that would still require police.”Alden added, “If they just discovered alcohol or tobacco today those things wouldn’t be legal either.”Samuell said a legalized marijuana policy probably couldn’t be enforced any better than current alcohol or tobacco laws. “The biggest killers are tobacco and alcohol. Why would we want to add to that list?”NORML spokesperson Tonya Davis talked about her own personal experiences and argued solely for the legalization of medicinal marijuana. Davis said she suffers from scoliosis and is required to use a wheelchair. “I have a crippling terminal disease,” said Davis. “I wouldn’t be able to talk to you now if it weren’t for marijuana. It’s prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin that cause addiction and raise the crime rate.” Davis also asked how marijuana could be classified as a Schedule 1 drug when it’s prescribed by doctors in 12 states.Neufer said, “Look at alcohol prohibition. It led to more crime. Also, the money goes underground. Look at how we used education to decrease the use of cigarettes even though they’re legal. We don’t put people in jail for smoking but the rates have gone down.”“Legality would make marijuana more accessible,” said Alden. “You can’t say advertising has no effect. Further, by legalizing it, the government says it’s OK. There are already synthetic substitutes that people can be prescribed.”By the end of the debate both sides agreed that any marijuana policy should not allow juveniles to use marijuana. They also agreed that tobacco and alcohol are by far worse drugs than marijuana.Samuell said, “We try to educate without scare tactics. ‘This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.’ I think that’s stupid.”Davis agreed, “We have to keep the conversation going. Try not to demonize things, but talk about them and keep the dialog going. Drug addiction is bad, but the war on drugs is worse.”Source: Mount Vernon News (OH)Author: Anton Hepler, News Staff Reporter Published: Friday, April 18, 2008 Copyright: 2008 Progressive CommunicationsContact: csplain mountvernonnews.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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