A controversial topic was debated on Feb. 1 in the Ragan Theater.
A handful of students had already arrived a half hour before the scheduled time for the debate to start, while others slowly, yet eagerly, shuffled in.
As the audience grew, quiet whispers turned into loud jokes about how ironic it was that the student association was handing out brownies earlier in the morning to encourage students to attend the debate.
By noon, some audience members began to sing “Come Together” by The Beatles, showing their seeming excitement.
The key speakers were Steve Hager, editor of High Times magazine and Bob Stuntman, former special agent in charge of the D.E.A. division in New York. The topic of the debate was the legalization of marijuana.
When asked why the school hosted such a controversial debate and how students felt about it, Chris Loumeau, UVUSA’s vice president of academics, said, “[We] wanted to help students become more aware about the different aspects of this multifaceted debate while attracting a demographic of students who usually aren’t at attendance at school activities.”
A firm believer that marijuana should stay illegal, sophomore Biology major Drew Guzman said, “I think [marijuana] probably isn’t good for you because it makes people lazy. I have friends who smoke pot and sit around all day like a bump on a log. People should be more productive with their lives.”
On the other hand, there are people who are not so opposed to it.
“It’s a free country,” said freshman Jessica Lowery, who is studying Nursing. “Why is it illegal when no one has been killed by its effects alone, like alcohol? And while it is illegal, it promotes people to rebel. People want to rebel for the thrill, if the thrill was taken out of the equation, the wanting to rebel would lessen.”
Both Hagan and Stuntman, however, agreed on several issues. If cannabis is used irresponsibly and inappropriately, it causes problems. Such problems include driving or using machinery while high. They agreed that the use of cannabis under said situation should be ticketed the same as if the user was intoxicated by alcohol.
The two students were also both against the smoking of it.
“Recreational use just doesn’t seem healthy, same reasons as alcohol and tobacco,” said sophomore Biology student Jared Robert. “The punishment should also be lessened like that of alcohol and tobacco because the medical use seems to be okay. ”
Student Body President Richard Portwood said, “When you legalize a substance, what it creates are ramifications on an individual and community level. If it is legalized, how many more users would start? We wanted students to see the different views and aspects of this debate.”