Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Pot or Not?

Tuesday night the Boca Senate Chambers was filled with students eager to talk about what is surely a less than foreign topic to all of them: marijuana.

The event ultimately brought laughs, answered questions and enlightened students on the issue of marijuana regulation.

FAU NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) presented “Heads vs. Feds: The War on Drugs,” as a debate between a former drug enforcement agent and a marijuana advocate from the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).

Kris Krane, executive director of SSDP, believes marijuana restrictions should be lifted, so long as there’s rules.

“We need to create a legal, taxed, zoned and regulated market for marijuana,” Krane says. “There is nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults.”

Former DEA Chief Advisor Robert Stutman disagrees with him, however. He believes that legalizing marijuana will only further damage the country.

“Are you ready to accept the potential consequences of more users, simply because some people want it as their recreational drug?” Stutman asks. “Americans are against the recreational use of marijuana.” However, Stutman disagrees on how drug users are punished under the law. “I think its crazy public policy to throw people in jail for the use of any drug.”

He later went on to completely support America’s judicial system saying, “Despite the fact that you may think courts have made mistakes, in the end, it is the best system I’ve ever seen in any country I’ve ever been in.”

Both men agreed that the punishment currently enforced for drug users, especially college students, is harsh.

“Drug convictions are the only conviction that will cause you to lose Financial Aid,” Krane says. “If convicted of any other crime, say, murder or rape, they cannot ask you on your application if you have been convicted.” He says that around 200,000 students have been denied Financial Aid since 1998 due to having a drug conviction.

Another topic was how many Americans are for or against the use of marijuana as a medical drug. Stutman believes that letting Americans vote on what is best for others is not the best idea.

“I think having Americans vote on whether something is a good medicine or a bad medicine is inherently crazy,” Stutman says. “Let the physicians and scientists make the decision of medical marijuana.”

Krane was adamant about comparing the prohibition of marijuana to the prohibition of alcohol before the use of it became regulated.

“Prohibition is a failed policy,” Krane says. “Restrictions work. It has for alcohol. We need to recognize that marijuana is certainly no more dangerous than tobacco and alcohol.”

Shelby Peters, FAU NORML President, was happy with the diversity in arguments.

“I liked the difference in opinions,” Peters says. “Some issues are debatable. But [Krane] always had something to say to counter. He [Stutman] didn’t attack.”

One of the bigger discussions was the talk of younger-aged users, particularly high school students and younger, who use marijuana regularly.

“High school students admit that marijuana is easier to obtain than alcohol,” Krane says. “Because marijuana dealers don’t ask for I.D.”

Stutman questioned Krane by asking, “So would you legalize marijuana for kids?”

“Absolutely not,” Krane says. “Regulation comes with age control.”

However, Krane noted that it is already legal for kids to use the drug. Stutman didn’t agree.

“If we legalize it for adults, and don’t for kids, how does that make the availability issue for the kids different than it is now?” Stutman asks. “We don’t solve the problem either way.”

Krane countered. “Sure, there are kids getting it illegally. But there are still kids getting alcohol illegally in high numbers but we don’t arrest or prosecute people for using or selling alcohol.”

Throughout the debate, each side brought in comparable statistics to convince the audience which ones were right.

“There are 16 million users of marijuana in the United States,” Stutman says. “There are 170 million users of alcohol. Is that an accident? It is because one is legal and one is illegal.”

Krane, however, pointed out that those numbers are more than likely wrong.

“If a federal agent comes up to your door and asks if you smoke marijuana, there’s a chance you’re going to lie, because it’s illegal,” Krane argued. “You don’t need to lie about drinking alcohol, it’s legal.” Krane didn’t agree with the numbers because they could not be obtained accurately and truthfully.

In the end, both sides of the issue did not come to the same answer to the question of legalizing the drug.

“We have created criminals out of half of the adult population, who, otherwise, are law-abiding citizens,” Krane concludes. “This is a failed policy. We need to take it out of the black market, we need to regulate it; we need to control it.”

Stutman disagrees, believing that legalizing it would cause more harm than good.

“I do think the system we have works,” Stutman says. “[However], the day he gets the majority of the American public to support legalization of recreational marijuana, I think we should do it.”

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