Pubdate: Tue, 20 Apr 2010
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2010 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Lee Shearer


No one should go to jail just for using marijuana, two debaters 
agreed Monday night.

"It's stupid," said Robert Stutman a former CIA and Drug Enforcement 
Administration agent.

But Stutman and High Times magazine editor-in-chief Steve Hager 
agreed on little else Monday as they argued over whether pot is good 
medicine before a packed audience in the University of Georgia's Tate 
Student Center Theater.

Billed as "Heads vs. Feds," the debate was sponsored by the Ideas and 
Issues Division of UGA's University Union.

Marijuana never should be legalized for recreational use, Stutman argued.

Hager reeled off five reasons to legalize the hemp plant whose leaves 
get people high:

Marijuana is good medicine, for glaucoma, some kinds of cancer and a 
lot of other conditions, he said, and hemp also is good for the 
environment, a renewable resource that could produce not only a legal 
medicine, but rope, cloth and cheap paper.

The country wastes an enormous amount of money putting people in jail 
for using marijuana - 2.5 million people are behind prison walls 
today, versus 150,000 people about 40 years ago, Hager said.

The United States once was famous around the world for building 
schools and highways, he said.

"But in the last 20 years, we've just been building prisons. This 
system is feeding on itself. It's seeking its profit margins, and we 
are its victims."

Legalizing marijuana would help end the corruption bred by the huge 
illegal drug industry, Hager said.

"The real price of marijuana is not $5,000 a pound. It's $1." But 
$4,999 goes to feed the criminal enterprise, he said.

"We're going to live for the rest of our lives with these crime 
cartels that have been built up," he said.

And finally, Hager argued, marijuana is part of his peaceful culture.

"So, please, can I get a little freedom of religion?"

During his turn, Stutman derided Hager's portrayal of pot as a 
beneficial medicine.

The real reason people like Hager want to legalize pot is for 
pleasure, Stutman said.

"They want it because it's their recreational drug of choice," Stutman said.

And just because pot is natural doesn't mean it's good - arsenic, a 
potent poison, sometimes occurs naturally in drinking water, he pointed out.

Pot is dangerous the same way alcohol is, Stutman said.

When people are high, their depth perception isn't good, and they're 
more prone to have traffic wrecks, he said.

If pot was legalized, millions more people would use it, increasing 
crashes, he said.

But the main reason not to legalize marijuana is because smoking it 
causes cancer - it clearly adds to testicular cancer rates, and 
probably to lung cancer, Stutman said.

"Any doctor who tells you to smoke something because it's good for 
your health is a damn fool," Stutman said.

Hager conceded that people shouldn't drive after using marijuana, and 
that they shouldn't smoke marijuana.

"You can't defend smoking, so if you're going to use marijuana, 
vaporize it, drink it in tea or use it in brownies," he said
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart