If only Ron Paul and Barney Frank had introduced their federal marijuana-legalization proposal one day earlier, the Great Legalization Debate might have turned into a truly great discussion. Instead, last night's "debate" at Casselman's more closely resembled an episode of Family Feud -- which turned R-rated when Corey Donahue lit up a joint.
Family, because everyone on the stage at Casselman's agrees that marijuana should be legal. Feud, because none of them agree -- yet -- on the ideal way to go about making it legal in Colorado.
Along with Donahue, the other panelists included many familiar subjects and commenters on this blog; the Reverend Brandon Baker, Kathleen Chippi, Rico Colibri, Paul Danish, Mason Tvert and Laura Kriho, whose Legalize 2012 sponsored the event. All seven are considering some proposal to legalize -- or at least decriminalize -- marijuana in Colorado. Tvert's coalition has already filed its proposal with the state, an act that was the subject of much sniping from other panelists (and, in fact, Donahue had just filed an official complaint against it).
I was the moderator of the event, which quickly moved beyond moderate. I would have loved to hear what the panelists thought about Ron Pauls' proposal; instead, I heard a lot about George Soros (for the record, he has provided no funding for Tvert's effort). Members of the audience would have loved to hear the panelists' take on their very real problems finding medicine, finding jobs, finding legal help; instead, the time was taken up by attacks. Playing political consultant at the wrap-up, Paul Danish, a longtime activist who got a growth-control measure through in Boulder three decades ago, noted that the discussion last night would be enough to kill any move to legalize marijuana in Colorado.
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Still, this was a family fight, and the family can come back together to present a relatively civil front, if not an entirely united one. Last night was a start, albeit a rocky one. I invite everyone who was in attendance -- or watching on the web -- to post comments below; I'd also like to publish anything the participants, particularly Tvert, would like to say about the "debate" and their proposal -- and I promise not to interrupt.
In the meantime, you can read William Breathes's preview of their proposals here. And remember, where there's smoke, there's ire.