March 30, 2004 - The La Crosse Tribune (WI)

High Times Editor, Former Drug Agent Bring Legalization Debate To UW-L

Two Polar Opposites on Marijuana Legalization Brought Their Traveling Road Show to La Crosse on Monday

By Reid Magney, La Crosse Tribune

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Former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Robert Stutman and High Times magazine editor Steve Hager entertained and informed an audience of about 800 students and community members at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse.

The two self-described "close personal friends" tour the lecture circuit with their show, which includes introductory video profiles of the combatants. "You'll never see us personally attack each other," Stutman said. "We disagree without being disagreeable."

Hager started the debate by listing five reasons he believes marijuana should be legalized: It's "good medicine," it's "good for the environment," it has "built the biggest prison system in the world in my lifetime," it would "stop funding corruption" and it is "part of my culture."

Stutman said Hager left out the biggest reason people want to legalize marijuana: "I want to smoke it when I want to smoke it, without the cops hassling me." Just because marijuana is natural doesn't make it good for you, Stutman said.

Hager said pharmaceutical companies make huge profits on mood-altering drugs, such as Prozac, which are unproven and have serious side effects.

"Twenty years from now, we'll see devastating effects from the use of ( anti-depressants ); 157 million people take them," Hager said. When you use marijuana, you "eat great, sleep great and have the best sex of your life."

Stutman said he's concerned that 20 to 30 years from now, some of the students in the audience could develop cancer because of marijuana.

Stutman declined Hager's invitation to a High Times-sponsored cannabis festival in the Netherlands, joking that he didn't want to hang around with a bunch of 50-somethings who need to get high to have sex.

One audience member asked why alcohol and tobacco are legal and marijuana isn't.

"Marijuana is the safest intoxicant in the world, and we've made it the hardest to get," Hager said.

Stutman said alcohol and tobacco cause two terrible diseases - lung cancer and alcoholism - that kill 400,000 people a year. "I'm not going to defend them," he said. But making another cancer-causing drug legal won't help things, he said.

Hager said people shouldn't smoke marijuana. "Eat it, drink it in tea or vaporize it," he said.

Stutman said marijuana is illegal because the majority of Americans want it that way. As soon as the public agrees to make it legal, or the Food and Drug Administration approves it as medicine or the courts knock down marijuana laws, "I'll say OK," Stutman said.

Hager said hemp was an important crop in the United States' early history, and legalizing industrial hemp would be more sustainable than using trees and oil to produce so many products today.

Stutman said industrial hemp has been legal for 31 years in Europe, but the marketplace hasn't embraced hemp as a raw material.

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