HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html High Times And DEA Square Off In Debate
Pubdate: Tue, 08 May 2007
Source: Diamondback, The (U of MD Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Diamondback
Author: Cassie Bottge
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


A diverse crowd of about 200 apparent stoners, skaters and curious 
straight-edge students listened to a heated debate last night between 
a retired Drug Enforcement Agency agent and the current editor in 
chief of High Times Magazine over the legality of marijuana.

In the Stamp Student Union's Colony Ballroom, retired DEA Agent Bob 
Stutman and long-time marijuana advocate Steve Hagar argued for two 
hours, but during this stop on their college campus tour, they agreed 
to disagree.

Presented by Student Entertainment Events, the marijuana debate was 
booked two months prior to when the Student Government Association 
passed a non-binding resolution to reduce first-time resident 
marijuana offenses last month, which would allow on-campus drug 
violators to still live on campus after being caught.

SEE spokeswoman Michelle Rattner said the debate provided students 
two different perspectives regarding the recent marijuana debates on 
the campus, allowing them to make the final decision. Yet for many, 
their opinions remained the same.

"I still feel the same way as I did before I got here - I still like 
pot," said Erik Bostick, a freshman history major.

The debate opened with a short movie presenting the opposing 
backgrounds of the debaters.

Stutman joined the Central Intelligence Agency after college before 
he began his 25-year tenure with the DEA. During his service he 
patrolled New York City and confronted notorious criminals like mob 
leader John Gotti to reduce the trafficking of illegal drugs.

In high school, Hagar formed an underground newspaper, The Tin 
Whistle, which became banned in four high schools. He proudly claims 
to be one of the first in his high school to have tried LSD and to 
have smoked pot. He is also one of the founders of The Cannabis Cup, 
a harvest festival in Amsterdam where cannabis standards are established.

Hagar stated five main reasons for the legalization of marijuana: 
Providing medicinal benefits, replacing environmentally damaging 
petrochemical products with hemp, easing the overloaded prison 
system, eliminating underground criminal cartels and protecting the 
religious freedom for those who rely on smoking marijuana for their culture.

"Did they tell you that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were 
hemp-seed farmers? Because they didn't tell Congress that when they 
told them to make marijuana illegal," Hagar said.

Stutman countered that Hagar was using "anecdotal stories as fact." 
He said marijuana should remain illegal because legalizing the drug 
would encourage more users. He then detailed the four main 
consequences of marijuana use: It lessens users' sense of depth, 
leads to dependence, reduces the ability to think logically and may 
eventually cause lung cancer.

"Just because God made something doesn't mean it's good for human 
beings," Stutman said.

Before the debate started, student groups NORML Terps and Students 
for Sensible Drug Policy joined forces and showed their support by 
sharing a table in the back of the Colony Ballroom. Members 
distributed hemp necklaces and sold magnets, pro-marijuana literature 
and T-shirts with sayings such as "I Love Mary Jane."

"Talk to us about drugs guys, c'mon, don't be shy," said secretary of 
NORML Terps Jeremy Taubman, ushering students to the table. "You 
can't just call us stoners anymore. We're turning into activists."

Some students left with a better understanding of the debate over 
legalizing marijuana, but for many, they just wanted to be entertained.

"I just came to see the biggest narc in the nation and the biggest 
pothead in the nation," said Carolyn Jenkins, a freshman letters and 
sciences major.
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