Legal Marijuana Debated at National Press Club

For Bill Piper, there’s no doubt that the nation’s war on drugs has failed, with 666,000 Americans arrested on marijuana charges last year alone.

“Should they be arrested or should they not? That is the key question,” said Piper, director of national affairs for the pro-legalization advocacy organization Drug Policy Alliance.

Kevin Sabet, a legalization opponent, had a question of his own: Does the United States want to create a new multibillion-dollar industry, similar to “Big Tobacco,” that would create more drug addicts?

“These industries only make money off heavy users _ let’s be very clear. . . . We are naive to think that this is about a couple of hippies who want to smoke a joint once a week after work in their basement,” said Sabet, who leads the advocacy group Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).

In another sign of its new status in official Washington, marijuana got an airing Thursday at the National Press Club, a journalism institute that has been visited by every president since Theodore Roosevelt.

Piper and Sabet, two of the most prominent players in the growing legalization battle, squared off in a one-hour debate, highlighting issues that may soon face Congress and an increasing number of lawmakers and voters across the country.

– Read the entire article at Fresno Bee.