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SSDP Conference, part 3: The Debate

(l-r) Kris Krane, Students for Sensible Drug Policy; Courtland Milloy, Washington Post (Moderator); Kevin Sabet, Students Taking Action Not Drugs
A picture named debate.jpg
The debate started with Kevin Sabet. He really worked on being reasonable-sounding, but a lot of what he said we’ve heard before — we need a balanced drug policy, not everything is perfect, but some things work, and with the damage caused by legal drugs, it shows the potential for danger.
Kris Krane: Pretty good list of problems with the drug war. Drug abuse is a problem, but the war on drugs is worse. “The war on drugs has been nothing short of a failure.”
That last statement by Kris is a mistake, in my mind. It takes the debate the wrong direction. It opens up a debate on the goals of the war on drugs and whether it works as a deterrent, etc., rather than talking about the war on drugs as separate from the issue of drug use/abuse.
Great quote by Kris: “People are being judged not on the content of their character, but the content of their urine.”
Both got derailed in the debate arguing about sentencing. Are a lot of people serving time in jail for this or is it really that, etc. Fortunately, the moderator stepped in and got them back on track.
Sabet talked about programs he thinks works, like Project Hope, which is basically a heavily drug testing based criminal justice system. He said it’s a way of reducing drug problems. Quote I didn’t understand: “These people are causing 90% of the problems of drugs.”
Scott Morgan, sitting at my table: “Kris loses. He said ‘rape’ first.”
Kris: Usage rate should not be the measure of success. Should be about whether “abuse” is being affected not “use.”
Sabet: “The human rights of individuals to put whatever they want in their bodies should not be infringed” Me: (!!!!) Sabet: “but there’s more to it than that– it affects other people.” Me: (????) Sabet: “If you’re in your dorm room smoking pot bothering nobody and the RA doesn’t care, nobody’s going to come knocking on your door.” Entire audience: (!?!?!?!)
Courtland Milloy (excellent moderator) did a great job bringing up the Calvo raid and SWAT problems. Sabet didn’t have a very good response to that and moved into a series of meaningless platitudes about common ground.
Discussion got to human rights and Sabet talked again about the damage to others (mentioning driving).
Krane: Text messaging while driving is dangerous. But we don’t ban text messaging. We ban text messaging while driving.
Sabet: I agree. [caught completely off guard]
[Standing Ovation]
Kris finally got into the black market argument that should have been brought up earlier when he was asked whether all drugs should be legalized. Good statement.
Of course, you’re not getting the whole debate, because I’m listening, not writing the whole time. I am impressed by the level of the debate overall, and given the natural problems inherent in Sabat’s positions.
OK, I take it back. He just talked about crack being available in a legal market at a cost available for a kid’s lunch money. Scott’s wrong. Kevin loses for that one.
Kris should have talked more about alcohol prohibition. He missed a cue there – got derailed on tobacco taxes.
Sabet dissed medical marijuana. Krane came after him hard with a history of governmental abuse of process. Excellent.
This debate will be available to college campuses, and I suggest that colleges consider bringing them in. It’s a good debate.

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