I had a fun time yesterday. There was a flyer about a debate on campus on the legalization of marijuana – not sure if it was a class thing or a debate club thing, but it was one of those structured academic “debates” with everything written out before-hand and a strict series of timed sections. The participants merely read their arguments (including the questions and responses to each other) and it didn’t have any passion, but it was still interesting to see what material they chose to use.
Danielle took the “pro” side and focused on the lack of harm caused by marijuana, proactively debunking numerous myths. She also mentioned the economic benefits of legalization, and interestingly, focused a fair amount of time on “spiritual” benefits that can be achieved from marijuana, going so far as to posit a 1st Amendment claim.
Molly took the “con” side and you could tell her heart wasn’t really into it, but she dutifully argued the side, and it was fascinating to listen to the same lies told by the government over and over again and how she naturally picked them up because they’re out there everywhere. She hit on the marijuana is clearly addictive because of the number of people in treatment, the carcinogens and other chemicals in smoke and the strong implication of cancer, and many of the other standard lies (again, not her fault, except in the failure to research opposition material to protect her from what I did later). She also spent a lot of time on the drugged driving issue, saying that it was very hard to detect stoned drivers and they posed a danger to others, so we had to keep it illegal.
When the event concluded, the moderator asked if there were any questions, clearly used to getting none from the audience in these debates (there were maybe 16 students there, most of whom signed a paper to indicate attendance). I had my hand up.
I decided to limit myself to a few items and to be gentle, but I could still have a good time with it. So I countered the cancer item with the Tashkin study, pretty much destroyed the treatment item with the treatment statistics analysis, and then noted that texting while driving is dangerous to others and very hard for the police to detect. So I asked if she proposed making the possession and sale of cell phones illegal. By this point, the rest of the students got into it and there was a pretty spirited discussion. Some of the SSDP students were there and brought up Portugal, and one even brought up an old humorous saying about driving and marijuana. Ah, it warmed my heart.
A very nice diversion in a busy work day.