Every parking spot and nearly every seat was taken at the Ethical Society Wednesday night as Show-Me Cannabis executive director John Payne took on Jason Grellner, the vice president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association to debate the pros and cons of marijuana legalization.
The buzz started with a Daily RFT post in October about retired Missouri drug cop Kevin Glaser's Facebook comments about what he saw as "stupid, lazy potheads" filling up a town hall meeting in Cape Girardeau on marijuana legalization. Payne, none too happy with the comments, challenged Glaser to a debate, but the ex-drug cop declined. However, when Daily RFT reached out to the MNOA's Grellner for comment (Glaser is a board member of the MNOA) and told him about Payne's challenge, he accepted.
Ever since then, St. Louis has been waiting for the Reefer Rumble. Even local TV news crews were there and Fox 2's Mandy Murphy moderated the debate.
For people who follow legalization news, no new revelations were discovered during the roughly two hour debate as both men repeated the things their sides often put forth:
Legalization will keep marijuana away from kids because its sale will be regulated as opposed to obtained on the black market, Payne says. No, legalization will make it easier for kids to get marijuana because their parents might have a pot brownie lying around and how will the kid know the difference, Grellner responds.
See also: - Missouri Drug Cop Says Marijuana Legalization Advocates Are Stupid Welfare-Sucking Potheads Who Probably Can't Read - Missouri Drug Cop Who Blasted Marijuana Legalization Advocates Says He "Wouldn't Retract a Word"
Legalization will make it easier to regulate the potency of marijuana and, in effect, the drug will be safer than it already is (which is safer than alcohol), Payne says. Potency doesn't matter because even a single hit can get somebody high, Grellner responds.
"I can drink a glass of wine at dinner and not get intoxicated, but I've never heard of somebody taking one hit of marijuana and not getting high," Grellner actually said, which likely caused at least a few people in the audience to question the quality of their dealer's supply.
A highlight of the evening was when an audience member asked Grellner if he thought it is fair and just for somebody to serve life without parole for a marijuana offense. Flyers informing people about Jeff Mizanskey, Missouri's only inmate serving life without parole for marijuana-only offenses, were passed out before the debate.
Grellner refused to give a yes or no answer, instead saying he didn't know enough about the case and sentences often take prior arrests and other details into consideration. But after the debate, Grellner told Daily RFT that a three-strike law for marijuana is "bad policy."
"What we should do is look at the three-strike policy that put [Mizanskey] in prison and we fix that policy," he says. "We don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and say 'the only way to fix it is to legalize marijuana.' The policy is bad."
Despite KSDK's video segment that portrayed the audience as undecided on the issue, the majority of the crowd was in favor of legalizing, based on applause for Payne's answers.
Click on the next page to see what some audience members thought...
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