Marijauna debate brings students together

St. John’s students discussed the pros and cons of legalizing medicinal marijuana in a debate held in St. Albert’s Hall CVS Student Lounge on March 31.

The debate was between two groups consisting of members of the Debate Team and the APHA-ASP, the student chapter of the American Pharmaceutics Association. Those for the legalization of medicinal marijuana were called “The Government” and those against it were labeled “The Opposition”. The teams were assigned to the participants and did not reflect their opinion on the matter of medicinal marijuana.

During the debate each member was given five minutes to present their argument about medicinal marijuana. Their opponents were allowed to ask questions after the first minute, resulting in some tension throughout the debate.

At the end of the presentation, members of the audience were allowed to question the participants.

Shreya Bansal questioned the government side on how medicinal marijuana would be controlled so that it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

“I think if it was very controlled it might work but the fact is that we can’t control it,” She said. Bansal brought up a main point of the opposition, which states that teenage use of marijuana outstrips every other drug use combined.

Amy Campo, one of the Debate team members assigned to the Opposition admitted she is actually pro-legalization after the debate ended.

She said that as a member of the debate team it’s her job to research the topic thoroughly and present a point of view based on the facts.

“Ultimately it’s not about winning,” said Campo. “You give principles that bring to light issues and let people weigh both sides of it.”

On the other side Tim Barr, a debate team member of the government side, admitted that he was also for legalizing marijuana. He believes that his personal feelings did not create any bias in his presentation of the facts.

“I’ve had a lot of training in debate and in rhetorical strategy that helps me present any side of an argument,” he said.

Much like his opponent, Barr said he believes that he is not trying to convince anybody that he is right and the other side is wrong, but to help inform the public so that they may bring knowledge of the topic back into their daily lives.

Sybil Cherian, fourth year pharmacy student, teamed up with the debate society to help put together this presentation.

“We had gone to Rhode Island and saw another school debate on this topic and we wanted to bring it back here to St. John’s,”  she said.

Pharmacy student Rane Jabonillo, who favored legalization, stated that he has a personal interest in the legalization of marijuana.

“If it does become legal it’ll be pharmacists who will handle it and not street corner thugs,” he said.