Legalization of marijuana remains a controversal topic at many colleges

By on March 21, 2002

The Heads have long battled the Feds in the spirited debate over the legalization of marijuana. The dispute is alive and well on college campuses nationwide, and Quinnipiac University is not immune.
This past fall, students packed an auditorium to hear Steve Hager, the Editor-in-Chief of High Times magazine, and a well-known proponent of legalizing the drug, butt heads with opponent Robert Stutman, a veteran of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The two middle-aged men stood at separate podiums, as one after the other passionately debated the issues.
“I can’t talk about this without it getting personal,” said Hager in an interview. “How tragic this war on drugs is.”
Hager claims that millions of non-violent people are imprisoned in America because of charges of possession of marijuana.
“I’ve seen people’s families destroyed, children without a parent, [because of imprisonment]. I cannot help, but get passionate about this,” he said of his reasons for becoming a crusader for legalization.
Hager touted the medical uses of marijuana as the biggest motive for validation.
“This drug has the potential to help with all kinds of diseased and disorders. No other plant comes close,” he said. “Millions of sick people have no idea what this plant can do for them.”
In addition to medicinal uses, Hager said that there are thousands of things that can be made from the plant, increasing its economic value.
Stutman’s rebuttal came swiftly.
“Steve and I absolutely disagree about this issue,” said the retired DEA official. “But it is important to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.”
With more than two decades of first-hand experience with the social implications of drugs and violence in this country, Stutman had no shortage of explanations as to why this drug should remain illegal.
“You have the right to do whatever you want to do, as long as it doesn’t affect me,” he said. He explained the use of pot, “contributes significantly to accidents.”
Secondly, Stutman believes the drug is addictive and causes dependence. Marijuana is a contributor to various forms of cancer, according to Stutman’s research.
The lawman did take the opportunity to jab at Hager’s facts. “Steve will degenerate our intelligence by using half truths. He said God made hemp. God also made Arsenic.”
Stutman continued, “Steve advocates for medical use. If you have a surgeon, instead of giving a patient morphine, why not have the doctor prescribe poppy seeds?”
Hager put a lot of personal emotion into his grounds for legalization. Stutman countered, “He wants us to make public policy based on emotion. That is a very slippery slope.”
If the drug were to be legalized, would the allure still be there? “Absolutely, there will be more users,” according to Stutman.
Stutman said, “Every generation of [college age] people have been mostly for the legalization. That is because they like to be a rebel, and it is the ‘thing to do.’ As those generations get older, studies have shown that the people most often change their view [to opposing legalization].”
In the interview, Steve Hager was pressed to explain what kind of role model he was to the young people of America, encouraging the use of an illegal drug.
“Look at the commercials on television,” he said. “They encourage people to drink. I would like to take that off the air.”
Hager continued, “I encourage responsible use, instead of just using the drug as a party thing. I’m just here to try to change laws and educate.”


About Jonathan Carlson