Debate Forum: 04/15

Forum Center: Should Ohio go green with marijuana legislation?

By Alex Culpepper

The push for marijuana legalization is active and healthy. Right now, nearly half of the states in this country have either approved it for medical use or have decriminalized it and simply issue civil fines for possession and use. Our neighbors to the north in Michigan have decriminalized the cultivation and use of marijuana as long as users have a medical need for it. Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Last year, an Ohio state congressman proposed a bill to legalize marijuana for medical use, and sponsors of a joint resolution even proposed legalizing it outright. A large chunk of Ohio voters support medical marijuana, but the support wanes when all-out legalization is proposed. Legalization efforts have also run into resistance from Ohio legislators, and marijuana legalization forces lack funds that would get a campaign started and have the issue placed on the ballot for 2014.

Nationally, the movement toward legalization is moving closer to the decriminalization stage, and the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws as long as they honor federal enforcement policies. The Obama Administration, and Attorney General Eric Holder in particular, have been open to changing what the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) calls the “scheduling” of marijuana. In other words, the administration believes marijuana is a candidate for reassessment as a dangerous drug.

Currently, the DEA classifies marijuana with heroin and LSD as a Schedule I drug – the most dangerous. By contrast, cocaine is a less dangerous Schedule II, steroids are a Schedule III and cough syrup is a Schedule V. The administration still needs assistance from Congress to move forward, but potential interest in reform exists at that level. The DEA and others, however, have not warmed to the idea.

Opponents of legalized marijuana have reasons for their position. They claim legalization will lead to the same abuse as has happened with other legal drugs. They also stand firm in its classification as dangerous and say it causes problems such as psychotic reactions, hallucinations, paranoia and can trigger schizophrenia in users who have a family history of the illness. They say the American Medical Association still regards it as a dangerous drug and considers it a public health concern. Opponents further argue social and economic problems stemming from drug use won’t go away just because it is legal.

Supporters say claims about marijuana’s addictiveness and tendency to cause psychosis are wildly exaggerated. They say marijuana is proven medically to alleviate a number of symptoms across a variety of illnesses, such as cancer, and it is far safer than having people take legal opiates for medical treatment. They also say the social and economic costs of its illegal status are unacceptable when so many otherwise responsible, law-abiding people are charged as criminals for simply possessing and using small amounts. They add further evidence of poll after poll showing a majority of people having little issue with marijuana legalization.

So far, it is apparent the federal government is content to let the states decide whether marijuana should be legal. Marijuana advocates have an uphill battle, though, because even with public support, they need legislators on their side and they need money. Their opponents hope to make it a losing battle and believe any positive benefits of marijuana legalization are significantly outweighed by the negative consequences.


Reach DCP forum moderator Alex Culpepper at

Debate Forum Question of the Week: 

The issue of marijuana legalization and decriminalization has made the priority list in states as well as the federal government. Is it time to legalize marijuana in Ohio?


Debate Left: Don’t believe the damning hype about marijuana

By Marianne Stanley

The bottom line is marijuana never should have been illegal. Its story crosses and crisscrosses issues of racism, corporate interests, corruption, government complicity and hidden motives, plus fairly successful marketing – lying – that has for far too long demonized it and distorted the facts surrounding its dangers and uses.

Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs” has its roots in racism and corporate greed, fueled by yellow journalism. During the hearings on the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry Anslinger lied outrageously during his sworn testimony before Congress, saying things like, “Smoke a joint, and you’re likely to kill your brother.” He even called marijuana “the deadliest drug ever known,” testifying half of all violent crimes committed in the U.S. were committed by Blacks and Mexicans who smoked pot, despite the fact between 65-75 percent of all violent crimes in the U.S. were, and still are, alcohol-related.

In America, we can walk around with loaded guns whose sole purpose is to hurt or kill, but not with a joint which, at worst, makes us mellow. And we wonder why other countries think we’re nuts.

Here are the facts:

The primary entity pumping cash into anti-marijuana campaigns is – surprise – the alcohol industry. The beer, wine and hard liquor folks have opposed states’ legalization efforts and contributed heavily to anti-pot groups and politicians.

Marijuana is the least, not the most, harmful “drug.” In the order of addiction, the rankings are: 1. Tobacco. 2. Caffeine. 3. Alcohol. 4. Cocaine. 5. Heroin. 6. Marijuana.

There is no lethal dose. Marijuana is one of the few drugs for which there is no lethal dose and no proven long-term harms. On the other hand, tobacco causes more deaths than all illegal drugs combined, and prescription drugs cause twice as many deaths as all illegal drugs combined. Here’s the breakdown of Deaths per 100,000: Tobacco – 141; Prescription Drugs – 13; Alcohol – 2; Heroin/narcotics – 2; Cocaine – 1.3; Speed/Meth – .7; Marijuana – 0.

Marijuana arrests mainly oppress minorities. Statistics show while more whites than either African-Americans or Hispanics use illegal drugs, minorities are almost four times more likely to be arrested for drug “crimes,” and 88 percent of all drug arrests are for marijuana. Arrests per 100,000 people: Whites – 476; African-Americans – 1,721.

Pot does not make the roads more dangerous. According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Administration, marijuana causes traffic accident rates to decrease when it is legalized, as indicated by a 9 percent drop in traffic fatalities in Colorado after legalization, correlating to a 5 percent drop in beer sales. Other reasons include the fact marijuana users are less likely to drive than people who are drinking.

For all the conservative talk about needing and wanting smaller government in our lives, isn’t it just a tad bit strange conservatives are the ones slowing or blocking legislation that would allow people to live their own private lives without government interference, snooping, prosecution and persecution? It’s no accident that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is adamantly opposed to marijuana’s legalization. Just think how many of their jobs would disappear overnight if pot no longer furnished an excuse for SWAT teams to break into homes in the middle of the night, guns drawn, to shake down Americans who had been seen leaving garden supply stores with unknown purchases in their bags – as was the case with a Kansas woman who had bought some organic fertilizer and found herself at the wrong end of a search warrant one night, with 11 federal and local law enforcement agents inside her home. Government has way overstepped its bounds and continues to lie to us. Even today, the Office of Drug Control Policy in the White House says marijuana “poses a significant health and safety risk to all Americans” and Thomas Harrigan, the deputy administrator of the DEA says there is “no sound scientific, economic or social reasons to change our nation’s marijuana policies.” Blatant lies.

Here are some of those scientific, economic and social reasons that supposedly don’t exist:

Serves as an excellent analgesic for chronic pain.

Controls nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

Helps with neuralgic and movement disorders such as seizures and spasticity.

Stimulates appetite and relieves the physical wasting away of cancer and AIDS sufferers.

Relieves glaucoma by decreasing intraocular pressure inside the eyeball.

Reduces anxiety and depression due to its sedative effects.


Who benefits then, from keeping it illegal? The DEA, corporations like the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) that owns and operates an ever-expanding number of prisons, pharmaceutical companies that stand to lose millions, if not billions, in income from the rampant prescriptions of pain killers, tranquilizers, sedatives, appetite stimulants and anti-nausea medications that currently flood the market.

The criminalization of marijuana use has done great harm to our nation by filling our prison system with non-violent Americans. The U.S. has more than two million of its citizens in prison – a higher percentage than China or Russia even during their darkest days. We need to do more research and stand together against such injustices. C’mon Ohio! Legalize marijuana and, while you’re at it, let all non-violent drug offenders go home where they belong.


Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing through middle and high school. She can be reached at


Debate Right:

[Editor’s note: On behalf of the Dayton City Paper staff, we apologize, but we were unable to locate a debate writer who was able to submit a view opposed to the legalization of marijuana in Ohio at this time.]

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Alex Culpepper

13 Responses to “Debate Forum: 04/15” Subscribe

  1. Geoff Burkman April 16, 2014 at 7:36 pm #

    Interesting. Am I to take the implication that gentlemen like Mark Luedtke and David Landon are pro-weed? Very interesting indeed!

  2. Levi April 23, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    Just a Note, It was Nixon, Not Reagan that started the war on drugs, Reagan massively expanded it though, but I’d say its Nixon’s War on drugs.

  3. chuck April 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    i agree with this article , soo much more good than harm would come from legalizing . thanks for bringing this to the public, i just hope it opens some closed minds, many strains of weed is PROVEN to help , thanks again , and keep posting the positive .

  4. BossIlluminati April 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol and Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever


  5. guest April 25, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    Drug prohibition is an integral aspect of the great struggle for equal rights: Lincoln recognized prohibition as a form of slavery because it is predicated on the flawed legal premise that one man’s body is the property of another. Even if drugs can be unhealthy, what difference does it make if we use them responsibly in a private setting? We are all going to die, and no one else has a right to dictate how we experience life. Prohibitionists are fascists who believe that might makes right: all of their phony moral arguments are merely attempts to conceal their belief that they are superior to others. I salute those who chose to speak up for human rights here, but I also respect those who remain silent when they are instructed to say that this is a land of liberty and justice for all.

  6. shawn burk April 26, 2014 at 3:48 am #

    Why aren’t we more concerned with overthrowing these powers aka government which oppresses citizens by lying for decades to us. What if weed is legalized nationwide. Does that mean now we are cool with government and everything done in the past no longer is of concern? Its like letting Hitler never be punished and remain in power even after the holocaust. You cant just say OOPS. Wrong has been and still is being done to american citizens on so many levels. Stop playing their game. Boycott all votes. Not one vote. Not one seat given. Put government on trial. Big business too. Put these low moral bastards behind bars. corrupt to the core. Evil. All an illusion. Its hatred its greed its the american way. Mission to bleed this earth and its people dry of money goods and services and euthanize the population. I want my weed. I want my choice. I want this idea of freedom i was promised.

  7. Scott Medwid April 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Print out this Dayton city paper debate If you agree that cannabis should be legalized federally. Attach a note addressed to your elected representatives requesting the federal rescheduling of cannabis to the level of alcohol. Request that your elected representatives write to you to state how they will act on your request. Vote accordingly in 2014 and 2016. While you’re at it, do the same for our state legislators and Gov. Kasich.
    Keeping dumb laws on the books reduces respect for the rule of law. If you believe cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol and that the prohibition should end, take a stand and hold our elected officials accountable. We have a right to redress grievances and petition for change When government policy is wrong. Cannabis policy has been wrong since 1937 but things are improving. Be brave, take a stand and work for the change you want to see.

  8. PJ May 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Great article!

  9. Tyrah June 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    Marijuana is good if you have cancer or if you are in a lot of pain, but good for the overall health? No. It doesn’t benefit you or disadvantage you in any way. Many of those who constantly say “marijuana cures cancer” are just stupid little fanatics who are dying for marijuana to be legal. They hide behind those arguments to make marijuana seem perfectly good so they can go ahead and freely smoke it all day while slouching and being complete useless encumbrances for society. It is absolutely pathetic and laughable how these stoners who worship weed will say anything to defend it and for it to be legal. It’s funny, because they dare to use a lethal disease only so they can be benefited in the end, not because they give a damn. Usually, medical marijuana is very accessible if you truly do need it and if it is given with a prescription, so why do they throw the cheap and trite “It cures cancer” argument? It doesn’t need to be legalised in an entire country so it can be accessible for a cancer patient. I bet they don’t give a damn if it cures cancer, they just want it to be legal so they can have an excuse to be slouches and burdens for society. Now, I’m speaking about those stoners who worship marijuana and are obsessed with it being legal, as well because of personal experience. I do know there are many people who smoke weed and are hard-working as well as useful for society (though I’ve met none of them); it’s just curious how many stoners have the insatiable need of demanding marijuana to be legal when they’ll continue smoking it anyway even if it’s illegal. I got out of subject there, I beg your pardon. Anyhow, marijuana can be widely helpful for cancer patients because it counter-attacks the effects of chemotherapy and because it kills many cancerous cells. It can stop metastasis through one of its compounds named cannabidiol. And as a matter of fact, cannabidiol is also useful to treat Dravet Syndrome, so imagine that. Marijuana’s compounds are useful for a variety of things besides cancer, the notion is that the COMPOUNDS are useful, and it’s not needed to smoke marijuana to obtain it’s good effects. Many ignorants think that smoking it is the only way to get its medicinal properties, thus why it should be legalised. Idiots. You should re-search about tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, which I think are two of the finest medicinal compounds of marijuana. The prime helps for early multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative disorders while the latter aids (doesn’t cure, but it helps) in cancer. Pretty interesting subject.


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