By John Payne
On Thursday, 7/18, I attended a debate sponsored by the Saint Louis Tea Party on marijuana legalization. Bill Hennessy, who helped found the group and has written extensively on reasons conservatives should support legalization, argued in favor, and Saint Louis City Republican Committeeman Mike Chance argued against. However, there wasn't as much disagreement on the topic as you might expect at a debate.
Chance said that there is absolutely no reason to continue prohibiting the industrial and medical uses of cannabis, and that the ultimate goal should be to treat recreational use the same way we treat the recreational use of alcohol today. He was primarily concerned with exactly how legalization would be implemented, and particularly wanted to make sure there was an effective way to enforce laws against driving under the influence of cannabis.
Hennessy said that his support for legalization primarily derives from his consistent support of individual rights and liberty, but he also believes legalization would lead to substantial economic and social benefits.
The crowd overwhelmingly seemed to support legalization, but some did express reservations about increased use. The moderator was kind enough to give me the last word, so I used the opportunity to address those concerns, arguing that the data indicate that use of cannabis is completely unrelated to whether it is prohibited.
Overall, I found the event very encouraging, as it shows that we are making substantial inroads with conservative groups, and that the support for legalization in Missouri is strong and growing stronger every day.