Marijuana legalization to be debated
By George Diepenbrock
September 13, 2008
Their views are glaringly different on the debate to legalize marijuana.
Steven Hager, the creative director for "High Times" magazine, wants
it made legal for several reasons.
"Prohibition drives prices so high that it ends up funding criminals
with unbelievable profits that wouldn't exist if the plant was legal,
and these profits corrupt our system," he said.
Robert Stutman, a former Drug Enforcement Administration supervisor
for New York's field division, says legalization would multiply the
number of recreational users.
"I just don't think the potential negative side effects basically
for recreational purposes is worth the trade-off, and I don't think
the American people think it's worth the trade-off," Stutman said.
The pair will debate the issue at 7 p.m. Monday in the Kansas Union
ballroom. The free event is sponsored by Student Union Activities.
Even though they might be an "odd couple" on the debate circuit, the
two also have become friends after debating on college campuses for
more than seven years. They say in their debates they try to make it
educational and civil.
"He's not a fundamentalist. He doesn't lie or distort, and he's a
good guy," Hager said of his opponent.
And Stutman, the former DEA agent, opposes legalizing marijuana but
also opposes jailing offenders for possession. He said education to
control the demand for illegal drugs was a key part of his presentation.
Hager agrees with Stutman about incarceration, and he says the
government is wasting money.
On the other hand, he wants marijuana legalized because of its
medicinal value and because the use of hemp could replace the need
for petrochemical products.
And he says, some cultures consider the plant sacramental. "And my
culture, which I guess you would call the hippie counterculture, is
no different. If we are going to have real religious freedom, this
must be recognized," Hager said.
Hager also will sign some of his books and magazines for fans from 2
p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Hastings, 1900 W. 23rd St.
High Times associate publisher Cusick praises activism at UCF
Issue date: 9/12/08
Student Union Room 218AB was standing room only Wednesday, as more
than 400 UCF students attended a National Organization for the Reform
of Marijuana Laws-sponsored speech delivered by Richard Cusick, the
associate publisher of High Times magazine.
Cusick complimented UCF's chapter of NORML.
"People at High Times know about this place, this chapter, because of
your activism," Cusick said. "You are the generation that is going to
legalize marijuana, and I know this because I'm standing alongside
the gold standard of activism in the United States."
UCF freshman Brenton Rees sat patiently on the floor before Cusick's
"I'm very interested in what he is going to say, just because of who
he is," Rees said. "I am not yet a member of NORML, but I think after
tonight, I'd like to be."
Cusick said that his first experience with marijuana was, "just like
a scene taken out of That 70's Show."
"I thought about it for an entire year before I tried marijuana for
the first time. I must've been either 16 or 17 years old," Cusick
said. "I learned how to smoke sitting in a very small room at a
comedy club watching George Carlin. Ironically, the place didn't have
a liquor license but allowed you to smoke weed. Little did I know
that not only was that the funniest thing I've ever seen, but it
would the funniest thing that I'd ever see. "
Cusick went on to speak about his experiences during the past 11
years with High Times, including one about how George Carlin got him
his first job with the magazine.
He wrote a question-and-answer interview with Carlin and submitted it
to High Times, and it made the cover.
Cusick accidentally sent a copy of his resume and his High Times
cover of Carlin to High Times when he was trying to land a job in
advertising after the birth of his first child. He got the job.
The magazine was founded in 1974 by Thomas King Forcade. High Times
was originally modeled after Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine, except
that rather than catering to just men, it catered to consumers of
recreational drugs. Each issue has a centerfold photo, not of a nude
woman, but typically of a choice grade of cannabis plant. Forcade
would later found NORML before committing suicide in 1978.
Cusick's speech was followed by a standing ovation.
"I thought his speech great and really empowering," UCF sophomore
Lindsay Martin, said. "He was a great motivational speaker and very informed."
Junior Jennifer Reed echoed her sentiments.
"He enlightened me, and I definitely gained knowledge," Reed said.
"He kept me listening the entire time; his speech beat my
expectations. I look forward to becoming an active member of NORML."