Students split on marijuana debate
Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Reporter
The debate over the possible legalization of marijuana seems like the parable of an unstoppable force and an immovable object. However, many recent events have tipped the scales in favor of those who support legalization.
Kansas has two bills in circulation in the House and the Senate, HB 2330 and SB 354, that call for “the legal use of cannabis for certain debilitating medical conditions;” “providing for the registration and functions of compassion centers;” and “authorizing the issuance of identification cards.”
Many students like Michael Piori are strong supporters of the bills because of the benefits they would provide.
“The benefits are overwhelming. When you look at the statistics in the states that have already legalized the plant for medicinal or recreational use,” said Piori, senior in communication. “It fights and kills cancerous cells in the body. It was also proven to help treat glaucoma.”
Piori says he also believes that the legalization of recreational marijuana could benefit some of Pitt State’s more “party-oriented” students.
“I think that in Pittsburg, students and young people are pressured to drink and to drink heavily and it seems to be encouraged, but cannabis on the other hand, is looked down upon,” Piori said. “Millions of Americans smoke it responsibly. Our policies should reflect this reality, not deny it.”
Other states, like Arkansas and, more successfully, Colorado, have attempted to get marijuana legalization, medicinal or otherwise, on their respective state ballots in November. Several notable figures have come out in support of national legalization, including controversial televangelist Pat Robertson.
“I believe in working with the hearts of people, and not locking them up,” Robertson said in a February episode of “The 700 Club.” “It’s completely out of control. Prisons are being overcrowded with juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties, the maximums, some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It makes no sense at all.”
Even with an almost overwhelming number of supporters, legalization campaigns still have their detractors, like Leann Verhoff.
“Using marijuana for recreational purposes is irresponsible,” said Verhoff, freshman in English. “I have smoked it, found it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I feel like the health benefits are very narrow and can be achieved with other, legal drugs.”
Verhoff says she believes that the thrill of smoking marijuana will wear off after its legalization and that, if legalized, the drug should undergo regulation akin to that of alcoholic beverages.
“I feel that it should be regulated in a fashion more similar to alcohol than to tobacco,” Verhoff said. “Marijuana does impair your judgment and reactions, especially in cases like driving.”
More information on both sides of the debate as well as PDF versions of the House and Senate bills proposing legalization in Kansas are available at http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org.
For students’ opinions on this issue, see page 5.