By Sam Osborne Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Friday, March 20, 2015 12:00 am
A crowd full of students and community members filled the Hocker Family Dining Room on the campus of KWC Thursday night for the Stanley Reed Society’s debate on the legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
Bill Conroy, a KWC professor of history and political science, and Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain, a KWC alumnus who also teaches criminal justice classes at Owensboro Community & Technical College, presented the arguments. Regina Powers, president of the Stanley Reed Society, moderated the debate.
Conroy presented the viewpoint that marijuana is no more harmful than tobacco and alcohol, which are both legal in the United States.
“I don’t advocate recreational drug use, I advocate a regulated market,” Conroy said. “Whether we like it or not, marijuana is here to stay. Over 80 percent of high school seniors say they can buy it easily. When it comes to the War on Drugs, we need to make the best of a bad situation.”
Cain said he perceives efforts to legalize marijuana “as a dangerous social experiment,” noting the drug’s potential to be a gateway to other harmful substances.
“Communities have been crippled by drug use for decades,” Cain said, noting marijuana as a contributing culprit. “Marijuana use has been shown to cause depression, ADHD and psychosis and is typically a gateway drug.”
Owensboro resident Shelby Keougham, 24, said the debate only solidified her previous views on the issue of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
“I already knew the facts, and they were pretty much validated,” she said. “He (Conroy) pointed out multiple times alcohol and tobacco are way, way worse than marijuana. They cause more deaths. They use marijuana as a safe alternative to the addictions that people have. I think it’s a no-brainer, it needs to be legalized.”
Currently, four states — Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska — along with Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use. According to National Public Radio, 23 states have legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
While marijuana use is prohibited in Kentucky, bills that would allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes were introduced during this year’s state General Assembly.
Sam Osborne, Messenger-Inquirer