Should pot be legal? Hear both sides of issue at debate

A debate on whether marijuana should be legal or not will take place Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Western Connecticut State University’s Ives Concert Hall, 181 White St., Danbury.

The “Pot or Not?” event, organized by the Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism (MCCA), is free and open to the public.

Questions surrounding the decriminalization, legalization and medical use of marijuana now are at the fore of American public debate. The upcoming forum will be an opportunity for the public to hear both sides of the issue.

The debate’s moderator will be state Rep. Terrie Wood, who represents Darien and Norwalk. Wood served on the state’s Regulations Review Committee for Medical Marijuana.

People who plan to attend should RSVP at or call 203-244-5336.

Pro and con arguments

Connecticut recently joined the growing list of states that have legalized marijuana for medical use. Two states — Colorado and Washington — have legalized pot for adult recreational use. Yet under federal law, marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance, adding to the controversy.

For every argument in favor of legalization, decriminalization or medical use, it seems there are arguments against them.

Some argue that legalizing marijuana would lessen the power of criminal organizations such as the Mexican cartel. Others counter that putting marijuana in the hands of corporations — who market to teens — would be harmful.

There are differing views within the medical field as well as battles over the economic impact and the criminal activity aspect.

Con: Legalization costs not fully understood

Jeffrey L. Reynolds, who will be debating against legalization, said, “There seems to be a growing acceptance of marijuana legalization, yet the public hasn’t been properly educated about the costs related to the drug’s impact on young people, impaired driving, the workplace and local economies.”

Reynolds, who has a Ph.D., is executive director of the Long Island Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

“What seems like an ideological debate led by ‘big marijuana’ and their legalization advocates,” he said, “will have real-life consequences for families, schools and entire communities.”

Pro: Nation’s drug war has been a failure

Debating in favor of reformed marijuana laws will be Erik Williams, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, known as NORML.

“The American public has come to the rightful conclusion that the drug war has been an abject failure and they are upset at the 40 years of taxpayer-funded lies,” Williams said. “They crave honest discussion, absent of fear or conjecture.

“When given the truth and the facts, Americans overwhelmingly support marijuana law reform,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to forward that conversation.”

About the sponsor

MCCA is a provider of substance abuse prevention, evaluation and treatment services in western Connecticut. The agency views alcoholism, drug addiction, problem gambling and co-occurring disorders as treatable illnesses. Learn more at