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Morning Sun
  • PSU students hear debate on marijuana

  • A debate between “the most famous narc in America” and “America’s best-known pothead” gave PSU students an opportunity to consider their views on the legalization of marijuana.

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  • A debate between “the most famous narc in America” and “America’s best-known pothead” gave PSU students an opportunity to consider their views on the legalization of marijuana.
    Bob Stutman, a former Drug Enforcement Agency officer, and Steve Hager, editor of High Times, are referred to as “the ultimate odd couple” in the cannabis conversation, and debated the drug on Tuesday evening for an audience of about 400.
    Student Jeanine Kunshek worked as part of the student activities council to bring the presentation, entitled “Heads Vs Feds,” to Pittsburg State.
    “The SAC has a committee that’s called issues and ideas,” she said.
    She said the issue was timely and the debate format of the presentation allowed it to be informative, but not biased.
    “This was a topic that would definitely cause conversations,” Kunshek said, adding that the idea came together following votes to legalize marijuana in Colorado and Washington.
    In the debate, Hager spoke first and shared his views on marijuana as a better and more natural form of medicine than the pharmaceutical industry provides. He also discussed environmental benefits of using hemp for ropes and clothes, talked about the problems of prosecuting drug use, advocated that current drug policies amount to funding corruption and advocated that cannabis users find a spirituality in the drug and should be free to practice their religion.
    Stutman began his opening presentation by noting that the two have been close personal friends for 13 years and will rip each other to shreds on the issue, but never attack each other personally.
    “We don’t have to be disagreeable with each other to disagree with each other,” Stutman said.
    He then said that Hager had presented anecdotes and opinion as facts and invited students to have the intellectual honesty to challenge him. He also questioned Hager’s argument that pot users want the drug legalized for any reason other than to avoid prosecution, debated the assertion that natural is equivalent to good, agreed with Hager regarding prosecution techniques for drug use and said doing things in the name of religion doesn’t always make it right.
    The two sparred back and forth for more than an hour, then took questions from the audience.
    Student Robert Clark asked why the topic is not a state’s rights issue, and Stutman said that is the heart of the issue and the federal government does infringe on freedoms.
    “Even though we have freedoms, those freedoms are limited,” he said.
    “What are you going to do when the government tells you your religion is not valid?” Hager countered.
    Questions also touched on potential for taxation and regulation of marijuana, whether it could be regulated in the same way as alcohol or cigarettes and what other options could be implemented for legal enforcement.
    Page 2 of 2 - Student Serena Furney said she came away impressed.
    “Mostly my concern is the taxation of marijuana. I wanted to hear both sides of it,” she said. “I was impressed with their credentials.”
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