Columbia University College Republicans (CUCR) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) came together (to the same room number) Wednesday evening for a heated discussion of U.S. drug policy. We sent our cannabis correspondent to sniff around.
There isn’t a much better way to start a meeting than brownies, even if they aren’t special. (From CUCR’s email about the meeting: “We promise there won’t be any drugs in the brownies. Unless you consider chocolate, eggs, flour, and/or love drugs. In which case there will be drugs in the brownies.) No, I can tell you, there were no drugs in the brownies.
After the drugless brownie frenzy died down, CUCR and SSDP members took their seats. The conversation got rolling when mediator Jamie Boothe, CC ’15, called on an SSDP member. Preemptively on the defensive, the SSDP member made a general case for decriminalization, citing reasons like the inevitability of drug use and the benefits of regulating the market.
Then the conversation took a confused turn. A Republican asked, “Heroin and cocaine are illegal, yes?”
After this minor issue was set straight, the next several speakers established that the crowd was largely in support of decriminalizing at least some types of drugs, while a small but vocal minority opposed decriminalization altogether.
A few speakers used Prohibition as an example of the ineffectiveness of banning substances. One Republican went so far as to assert that our current drug policy is unconstitutional because, unlike Prohibition, it is not supported by constitutional amendment.
Other speakers brought up a myriad of good points: decriminalization would allow the government to tax drugs for revenue, people would be more likely to seek help for addiction, and we could impose more regulations and oversight on the industry. If all of those points came from CUCR, no wonder their party is having such an identity crisis.