The True Life Debate series will return to Cal Poly on Thursday evening with its latest installment, The Great Pot Debate.
Sponsored by Associated Students, Inc., the event will feature Steve Hager, editor of High Times Magazine, and Robert Stutman, a veteran of the Drug Enforcement Agency, discussing the legalization of marijuana.
“(ASI) chose this debate because we think it is an issue students are really talking about,” said Dana Matteson, ASI Events special event supervisor.
Matteson said students today live in a world where the issue of marijuana and other topics are in the forefront and need to be discussed.
“Students want to know (about it) and make their own decisions about whether pot should be legal or not,” Matteson said.
Matteson said Hager and Stutman will be discussing, among other things, the legal implications of marijuana.
“They will talk about what one side sees as the benefits of legalizing it versus what the other side sees as what could go wrong if it was legalized,” Matteson said.
Matteson said the event will be moderated by a student who will be running the first half of the debate. In this portion, each speaker can give his views and facts on the issue. After that, there will be an hour-long question and answer session where students will have the opportunity to ask the speakers direct questions.
ASI program coordinator Michelle Curro said in the past, this part of the event has run over because of the sheer volume of questions students have. She said the speakers will probably stay after to sign autographs or answer questions one-on-one.
“The whole purpose of bringing the True Life Series is to provide students with the information, not judgment or trying to sway them one way or another,” Curro said. “It is to just provide them with the information and facts and really let them develop their own opinions and judgments.”
Curro said all of these ASI-sponsored events are arranged by the student members of the group. ASI student members will bring ideas forward and explain why each should be held at Cal Poly. She said this helps bring some very relevant and important events to campus.
“We are in a situation where if we don’t provide this information, who will?” Curro said.
Curro said ASI tries to give students a wide range of events to choose from, not all the same issue or type of discussion. These include everything from concerts to art exhibits.
“We don’t make our decisions in a small fish bowl; we go out and ask for student opinion,” Curro said.
She said many of the events taking place this year are the result of student feedback from last year and therefore reflect student interest and desire for knowledge.
“These are some serious topics we are talking about and can be very influential in someone’s life if they attend the event,” Curro said.
The two speakers have done similar events in the past and are very knowledgeable about the issue of marijuana legalization.
Hager has been editor of High Times for 15 years and founded Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup. In addition, he is a documentary filmmaker and has written several books, including “The Octopus Conspiracy.”
Stutman worked for the DEA for 25 years, spending 13 of those years as the head of the DEA’s New York office. There were 15,000 drug arrests made during his tenure. He is also a leading advocate for drug prevention, treatment and education. His autobiography, “Dead on Delivery,” was made into a very successful TV movie.
The debate will be held in Chumash Auditorium at 8 p.m. and is free with a valid student ID.