(’76 Editor) Since our big debate on Colorado drug policy, Feb. 17 at CCU, I’ve been repeatedly asked who won or what conclusion emerged. There’s no simple answer in light of the cross-cutting perspectives from our five debaters – legislators Shawn Mitchell and Tom Massey, psychiatrist Chris Thurstone, and attorneys Carol Chambers (opposed to outright legalization of marijuana) and Jessica Corry (in favor of same) – and the three-layer complexity of the subject.
(1) How to regulate medical marijuana, (2) what to do about marijuana’s illicit recreational users, and (3) how much to use state power for the individual’s own good, were all topics in play during the 75-minute discussion.
Questions from the panelists on stage (myself, CCU senior Natasha Starceski, and CCU freshman Drew Goorabian), along with written questions submitted from the audience, most of which weren’t put to the debaters because of time limitations, are tabulated in full below. They reflected a commendable degree of thoughtfulness on a difficult matter of governance and civic standards, I believe.
Moderator's Opening Question: What difference can you see, if any, between America’s failed experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and the marijuana prohibition of today, with or without a medical exception?
Is the federal heavy hand on marijuana an example of the welfare clause gone amuck or do we actually need a stronger federal government than Mr. Madison believed? Was Madison wrong?
What do you think of legalizing marijuana but requiring drug testing for welfare/tax supported programs?
Would the legalization of marijuana in Colorado provide an economic boost within the state; does the economic boost outweigh the detrimental effects on society as a whole?
If marijuana is legalized, what can be expected when it comes to the price and legal limit? How much is too much, and what will the legal buying age be?
If marijuana is legalized, should its regulation be handled by state or federal authorities?
It is common knowledge that the prohibition of alcohol did not work – why do you think the prohibition of marijuana is any more effective?
Generally, marijuana has the same psychological effects as alcohol and the same physiological effects as tobacco, yet alcohol and tobacco are legal. Alcohol, if used in excess, can lead to alcohol poisoning and kill a person, but it is impossible to O.D. on marijuana. Why then is tobacco and alcohol legal, but marijuana is not?
Dr. Thurstone: Could you please explain smoked marijuana verses a pill or the patch?
Ms. Corry: Part of your stance is that legalizing marijuana will help reduce our deficits… How do you balance that with the cost that this issue has placed on local government at a time when they are struggling to provide basic services in this economy?
Ms. Corry: Is there any free market (perhaps human sex trafficking) that government should limit or eliminate?
Why is medicinal marijuana so much more expensive than illegal marijuana?
Dr. Thurstone suggests that marijuana increases violent behavior; however, anyone who has used it knows that this is false. Has he ever had any personal, legitimate experience with marijuana?
Would you all agree or disagree that seniors may be more likely to treat ailments such as arthritis with marijuana if it were legalized?
Micah 6:8 says, “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord your God.” Since laws are meant to punish those who cause harm to others, how can we justify laws that are more harmful to our citizens than the substances they ingest?
When does state law trump federal law? How does that affect federal dollars to our state for drug enforcement
Marijuana is known as a “gateway” drug – will this therefore lead to increased use and incidents of heroine, cocaine, meth, etc.?
Rather than enacting immediate government regulation, why don’t we allow the free market to handle the over supply?
Many “conservatives” profess a belief in state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment, yet support the DEA’s recent arrest of a medical marijuana grower who was in compliance with Colorado law. How can one reconcile those two positions?
Making marijuana legal will not prevent the crime we are seeing now like robbery or dispensaries – nor will it prevent a black market. Will your view tolerate this associated crime?
Cain asks God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” If the answer is yes, how forceful should I be in protecting my brother from marijuana, or fatty foods, or whatever? Man needs free will to serve God or not and otherwise behave.
I could understand legalizing marijuana if Medicare and Medicaid did not pay for the consequences thereof. Why should Medicare pay for a new liver for an alcoholic?
If drug abusers were allowed to die on a Denver sidewalk, cry out in pain for another joint, then legalization would make some sense. We could make sure our children could see the miseries of a dopey life.
Do you think prohibition of marijuana leads to more problems than just if it was legalized?
Marijuana is known for being a "gateway" drug - therefore, do you foresee an increase use and abuse of other illicit drugs if marijuana were to be come legalized? Would this in turn lead to higher incidence of drug-related crime
Students know it is possible to fake ADD symptoms and get a Ritalin prescription (“my new homework buddy”), so wouldn’t it also be easy for young people to fake and lie their way to a medical marijuana card?
If we legalize marijuana, should we therefore legalize ALL drugs?
Moderator's Closing Question: What is the single most compelling reason Colorado should not go ahead and legalize all marijuana?