Prop 19 Marijuana Debate Stirs Big Interest
“If Proposition 19 passes, we won’t have marijuana stores on every corner,” said Danesh Tandon, one of the panelists in favor of the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in California if voters approve. The panel discussion, sponsored by TJSL’s Criminal Law Society, was held at the law school on Wednesday, October 20.
The room was packed to capacity with interested students and TV news cameras lined the back of the room.
“I live in a neighborhood with stores that sell medical marijuana,” said Sophia Roach, a county deputy district attorney who opposes Prop 19, “and it’s a plague. It brings a lot of foot traffic and criminal activity.”
“We have to stop treating people as criminals,” said Tandon, who is a deputy public defender who often has clients who have been charged with using marijuana. "Studies show that fifty-percent of people use marijuana – and the person sitting next to you who has used it is not a criminal.”
John Redman, the Executive Director of the statewide Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) prevention organization, is opposed to Proposition 19 and he said “it has nothing to do with sound drug policy. In fact, it’s bad drug policy that de-regulates instead of regulates marijuana."
TJSL Professor Alex Kreit, who heads the San Diego Medical Marijuana Task Force, and favors Prop 19, said that marijuana is “just as available as it has ever been, despite the prohibition,” which he feels just feeds the drug cartels.
Marty Stratte 2L, who is president of TJSL’s Criminal Law Society and the event’s organizer, said “it was very exciting to see the support from the TJSL student body and to see that students want to learn from the experts on today’s most current issues.”
He also said of the panelists that it was “great to see such an interesting group of panelists come together to share their views with the students.”
In fact, the discussion was so lively that the debate went into overtime – most people, including the panelists, wanted to stay and keep talking abut this controversial issue.
At one point during the discussion, Professor Kreit said that “Proposition 19 is not going to solve all of California’s problems and make it a great land….”
“It’ll just feel like it,” Danesh Tandon chimed in, to waves of laughter.