UCF Debate and Volunteer UCF held an event during which students went head to head on whether or not marijuana should be treated as a victimless crime in America.
The event was held at the College of Sciences, where students discussed the repercussions and effects the marijuana legalization would have on society and Americans' lives today. The Oct. 1 debate touched on topics such as criminalization, health problems, the effects legalization would have on cartels and the effects on drivers..
The pro-legalization team was represented by Paul Leader, the director of UCF Debate and an instructor of human communication at UCF, and Matthew Johnson. UCF Debate team members Jonathan Zaikowski and Taylor Johnson argued the other side — that the legalization of the drug should be put off until more information is gathered. Although Zaikowski and Taylor Johnson had preparation on their side, the attending audience appeared more interested in the pro-legalization argument.
As was evident when Zaikowski asked the crowd to raise their hands if they knew of anyone who was criminalized by law for possession of marijuana when trying to make a point toward the contrary, and a good majority of the crowd raised their hands.
"The debate in itself was kind of one-sided," undeclared business major Alex Baron said. "The people defending marijuana were less prepared, but they both put out good information."
However, Baron, who is pro-legalization, did not walk away from the debate with a different train of thought on the topic.
"Possession of marijuana isn't unlawful enough to be criminalized and for people to be arrested," Baron said. "It's unfair and unjust."
Matthew Johnson, who was on the pro-legalization team, cited that more than 700,000 people were arrested for simple marijuana charges last year.
The debaters spent a lot of time comparing the effects legalization would have on society to Colorado and Washington, two states that have legalized marijuana. With only two years of information gathered since the initiative that legalized marijuana in Washington passed, Zaikowski and Johnson believe not enough time has passed to effectively analyze whether or not marijuana should be treated as a victimless crime.
"Marijuana shouldn't be legalized now, but we should wait to see what happens later," Taylor Johnson said, concluding her debate.
Edward Maybury, a biomedical science major, shares the same sentiment.
"If marijuana is going to be legalized, it should be treated how alcohol is," Maybury said. "I don't want a surgeon doing stuff to me while he's high."