On Thursday, September 29, the Society convened to consider the question Resolved: the United States Should Legalize Marijuana.
Mr. Pat Spagnuolo and Mr. Stephen Wooten, making his induction, spoke on the affirmation. Mr. Peter Prindiville and Mr. Colin Soper, making his induction, spoke on the negation.
Mr. Wooten began by discussing the economic impact of marijuana and the country’s failed judicial system. Mr. Soper countered by arguing that the Society’s debate should focus on the public health consequences of widespread marijuana use. Mr. Spagnuolo, as per usual, brought an air of humor to the debate. He discussed the historical context of the marijuana debate involving “Mormons and Mexicans.” He also argued that “laughing was illegal during Prohibition.” Mr. Prindiville argued that the role of government is to control harmful substances that pose undeniable risk to “social tranquility and productivity.” He then went on to argue that marijuana posed excessive risks to these two areas.
Ms. Kikeri began the floor portion of the debate by stating that both marijuana and alcohol have negative effects on the body. Vice President Henderson proposed that the discussion of alcohol was misleading, as the drinking age is about reducing deaths by drunk driving. He then argued for decriminalization, a common theme of the evening. Mr. Rosenthal, a 2010 alumnus, proceeded to draw comparisons from his current job at the Cato Institute, arguing that decriminalization would lead to a police state. Ms. Green, the standing amanuensis, then noted the distinction between decriminalization and legalization and helped orient the Society on the issue.
Mr. Prindiville began his closing by continuing the discussion of decriminalization, arguing that this was a better alternative than legalization. He ended with a dramatic reading highlighting the dangers of a society in which marijuana became prevalent. Mr. Spagnuolo submitted that decriminalization is “sketchy,” and that police would be lax on crime. He closed by insinuating that the negation was smoking, as “their points don’t hold up.” Mr. Soper asserted that laws are valuable, even if people break them. He finished by stating that legalization would set a scary standard for Society. Mr. Wooten closed the Society’s debate by maintaining that the negation places too much faith in the government.
The best floor speeches of the evening were awarded to Ms. Mia Di Stephano and Ms. Anais Carmona.
The Society voted 52-2-30 to affirm the resolution.
Special thanks to Ms. Emma Green, reigning librarian, for standing in as amanuensis.
Peter A. Prindiville