Monday

How to win at marijuana legalization debates

NORML

The best way to tackle debates regarding legalization or safe access to medical marijuana is to relate it to the prohibition of alcohol, when the united states established the eighteenth amendment.

"The manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited."

Demand for liquor continued, despite the new amendment, and the law resulted in the criminalization of producers, suppliers, transporters and consumers. The police, courts and prisons were overwhelmed with new cases; organized crime increased in power, and corruption extended among law enforcement officials. The amendment was repealed in 1933 by ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, the only instance in United States history of repeal of a constitutional amendment.

It's easy to make comparisons between the current "War on drugs" and alcohol prohibition from the 1920's.
 
“This is not an idle threat. … What we’re trying to do is send a message as broadly as possible. … We are serious about enforcing federal law. … We are not just talking about it, but we are doing something about it. … Prosecuting marijuana cases is a higher priority now.”
–Statements of the US Attorneys for the four federal districts in California


Now more than ever our civil rights are in dire and drastic need of support. The government should not be allowed to criminalize us for using a plant, that even they deem has medicinal value. So that brings us to debating! Now I am definitely not a debater, but for all medical marijuana advocates, we find ourselves defending our stance almost daily. Educating our peers is a great way to spread positive medical marijuana information, but unfortunately the debate needs to be had at higher political levels. The 420 shack is respectfully asking all of you to attend local city hall meetings, to find out who your local politicians are, and to seek out better laws for ourselves. The fight in marijuana legalization will be won at the ballot! In order to keep marijuana legalization a viable option for the government we need to band together, and convince our local governments that the current laws in place are wrong.

Every one of those arrests on the chart has a story attached to it, and every one has a family and friends who suffered as a result of an unjust law, continued in most part due to a general lack of knowledge about marijuana. If we are to make ground, we need to push, and push hard. We need to educate our local governments and drive change to the heart of our political system.

 This, the question at hand, and responses to some of the most common marijuana rebuttals, are what all politicians and local authorities involved in your local governments, need to be hearing. So without further ado, here we go.
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Pose the following question –“Why does the united states government need to criminally prosecute people for the responsible use of marijuana?”

  Wait for their response

  If response is along the lines of  “Marijuana is illegal because it turns people lethargic.” pose original question, but alter question with [for being lethargic]  Place emphasis on  the word “criminally”.

If response is because of violence, point out that:
(i) There are no gunfights between our government and the makers of beverages containing alcohol.
(ii) The consumers of marijuana are no more responsible for the actions of the suppliers than consumers are responsible for the child labor that helped make any product from China. 
(iii) Repeat original question, but emphasize the word “use”.

  If response is because of negative effects of marijuana, again refer back to the question, but alter the question with [said negative effect], and emphasize the word “criminally.”  
 
If response is because of people driving while under the effects of marijuana, again go to step one, but emphasize the word "responsible.” Point out that the law bans the responsible use as well. Point out that there are perfectly legitimate laws for responsible use of alcohol.

  If the above activity eventually leads to a response along the lines of  “...because of the economic drain it causes in health/welfare costs.” Ask for evidence that the costs of enforcing prohibition have been less than the health/welfare costs that would exist without prohibition. If there is no evidence, which there most likely won't be, then ask why a law was enacted before there was any evidence that it would be fiscally responsible.
 
 If they respond with "There is no medicinal value to marijuana." 
Then cite the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) program.
  The Marijuana Policy Project's 2002 "Medical Marijuana Briefing Paper" stated:
"In 1975, Robert Randall, who suffered from glaucoma, was arrested for cultivating his own marijuana. He won his case by using the "medical necessity defense,", forcing the government to find a way to provide him with his medicine. As a result, the Investigational New Drug (IND) compassionate access program was established, enabling some patients to receive marijuana from the government.
In 1992, in response to a flood of new applications from AIDS patients, members of the Bush administration closed the program to all new applicants. On December 1, 1999, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services updated its medical marijuana policy, restating that the IND program would not be reopened. Consequently, the IND program remains in operation only for the seven surviving previously approved patients."

If they respond with something along the lines of  “You can’t put a price tag on the prevention of human suffering,” then ask why they brought up the health/ welfare costs as a factor.

At any point if it seems like they are making up their answers, you should point out that marijuana is already illegal, and that criminal prosecution is a serious and agonizing event; it is not something that should be done lightly and as a result of guesswork. 
 
 Response to law enforcement officials: I’ve only seen this once when a caller asked a similar question to the DEA head on cspan, when California was considering legalizing marijuana. I think I should mention it because it was significant. The DEA responded to the question with something along the lines of  “it isn’t the DEAs job to punish for individual use. I go after big-time suppliers.” The correct response to this would have been “regardless of what you do, you are here representing prohibition, which includes the criminal prosecution for the responsible use of marijuana.” Refer to the original question again.
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This is by no means a perfect guide to win a debate, but hopefully it will help give you some information to use the next time you find yourself at a local political rally, or city hall meeting. Also you can still help from the comfort of your house.
Tell Your Representatives to Co-Sponsor HR 2306: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011
Clicking that link will take you to Norml.org, and a pre-written letter just needs your information to be sent out.

"Over the past 70+ years, the federal criminalization of marijuana has failed to reduce the public’s demand or access to cannabis, and it has imposed enormous fiscal and human costs upon the American people."

Our rights, our future, it's in our hands NOW. Let's do something about it!
NORML

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