The great marijuana debate

By on November 11, 2009

Steven Hager and Bob Stutman don’t appear to have much in common. Hager is the former Editor-in-Chief of High Times, a marijuana lifestyle magazine. Stutman is a retired Drug Enforcement Agency special agent who was called “the most famous narc in America” by New York Magazine.

But for years the two have traveled the country, visiting various colleges and debating the legalization of marijuana in “Heads vs. Feds – The Great Debate,” an event booked through Wolfman Productions.

Hager and Stutman came to Quinnipiac last Friday, Nov. 6, to debate in Alumni Hall, hosted by Student Programming Board (SPB). After an introductory video was shown, both gave a brief statement, and then fielded questions from the audience.

“It’s a topic that people have very strong opinions about,” said Lindsey Burroughs, talks and topics chair of SPB. “I saw it as a good opportunity to not only educate the campus about both sides of the topic of marijuana legalization, but to give students an outlet to express their opinions on the subject.”

There were more than 100 students in attendance.

The night started with the video, which gave brief biographies of Stutman and Hager. Stutman’s biography played to Bruce Springsteen, while Hager’s featured stereotypical psychedelic rock.

The two spent most of their time citing studies that supported their respective causes, debating the usefulness of hemp and arguing about “the counterculture.”

“The debate was rehearsed a little bit obviously, but it was certainly interesting,” freshman Ken Kito said. “[Hager] was rather intense while [Stutman] was more thought out and logical.”

“Kids do not care about hemp or medical marijuana,” Stutman said. “They just want to get high.”

Hager countered with arguments about the overcrowding of the prison system and how legalization would hurt gangs. But he said the most important reason for legalization, in his mind, was that “it is a part of his culture.”

Hager stressed that marijuana users are just normal people, and they aren’t looking to take over society.

“We are good people, we are raising our grandkinds,” Hager said. “We aren’t looking to turn the joint chiefs into joint smoking chiefs.”

The question and answer portion was a bit unwieldy, with each answer taking several minutes, and often going off-topic.

Both Hager and Stutman agreed that Quinnipiac’s punishments for marijuana should be no more severe than those for underage drinking.

Hager then went on to invite Stutman to join him for in Amsterdam for the next Cannabis Cup, so he would be able to understand firsthand the effects of marijuana.

One student asked if the participants would prefer that their children smoke marijuana or drink alcohol, but neither answered the question.

“It’s a foolish question,” Stutman said.

At the conclusion of the debate, Hager encouraged students interested in marijuana legalization to form a Students for a Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Quinnipiac.

“When wars end, people celebrate in the streets,” Hager said. “When this war ends, we will celebrate in the streets.”

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