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More MS news articles for May 2003

Marijuana debate gets heated

April 30, 2003, 12:00:01 PM EDT
By Edwin Childs

Tuesday night at the "Heads vs. Feds" marijuana legalization debate, there were a lot of heads and very few feds.

In fact, there was only one fed -- former drug enforcement agent Robert Stutman, self-titled "the most famous narc in America."

Defending the illegal greenery was High Times editor Steve Hager, who began his side of the debate with five reasons to legalize marijuana.

"The first reason is that it's good medicine -- good for AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, strokes, asthma and multiple sclerosis," Hager said.

"You know, there's more diseases and disorders for which this plant is a useful treatment than any other substance under the sun, and yet our federal government has classified this plant as 'Schedule One,' which means absolutely no potential for mediacal use and a very high potential for abuse," he said.

In his opening argument, Stutman later responded to this claim, citing studies by the American Medical and Cancer socities.

"Cannaboids are good only when extracted," he said. "A five-year study proves that smoking marijuana will never be good."

Hager's second point expanded his argument beyond the realms of the "medical marijuana argument" and into the uses of industrial hemp.

"Hemp is good for the environment," he said. "Every soldier in Valley Forge wore clothes made out of marijuana, every ship the pilgrims came over on was rigged with hemp rope and, in fact, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers."

Stutman responded with a slightly different view of Hagar's philosophy.

"People assume that, just because something is natural, it is good," he said. "Arsenic is not synthetic -- God made it -- but you always hear about how we don't want it in our drinking water."

While there was no clear "winner" to the debate, both sides presented arguments for their respective world views, with topics ranging from marijuana incarceration to drug war corruption to marijuana counterculture.

This is definitely not the last time American society will wrestle with the questions posed by Tuesday's forum.

© 2003 The Red and Black Publishing Co., Inc.