Meeting 11/18: Legalizing Marijuana

18 Nov

Proposition 19, the bill that would legalize the sale of marijuana in California, failed.  But the debate still goes on whether states should legalize marijuana.  There are many sides to the issue, but it is an issue that once lived in the realm of the alternative but is now enjoying airtime in the mainstream media.  So for tonight’s discussion, we will talk about the benefits and disadvantages of legalizing pot, but also what makes something “alternative” and “mainstream.”

Some Basic Arguments for Legalizing Marijuana:

  1. It’ll help decrease prison populations
  2. There will be tax revenue from sales
  3. It is less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol, two legal drugs
  4. Marijuana has many medicinal values

Some Basic Arguments Against Legalization:

  1. Marijuana is a harmful drug
  2. Marijuana is a “gateway” drug to other, more dangerous drugs, such as cocaine or heroine.
  3. Legalizing marijuana will not end black-market drug sales, but will push dealers to “up the ante” by making more potent and dangerous versions of marijuana
  4. Only about 1% of prison populations are there on marijuana-based offenses, and so legalizing it would not do much to fix the overpopulation problem

Videos and media clips on the issues:

Opinions of the People:

Pie Graph by CBS News in 2009

History Lessons:

Now, regardless on your thoughts about Prop 19, we ask ourselves, how do “radical” or “alternative” ideas become mainstream?  What makes something “alternative”?

Some definitions of “alternative” or “alternative media”:

“employing or following nontraditional or unconventional ideas,methods, etc.; existing outside the establishment: an alternative newspaper; alternative lifestyles.” –

“Alternative media has many roles, but one of its core roles is as a watchdog for the mainstream media. Many people thought and continue to think that the mainstream media was too heavily biased, and started using alternative media as a way of expressing their counter biased point of views. Another role of the alternative media is to combat against corporate censorship and since most alternative media outlets have little advertisements, they can’t be bought and silenced by advertisers, or worse: political parties and special interest groups.” –Spirited Kenny (Canadian radio host)

“Alternative media provide a range of perspectives and ideas that aren’t readily available in the profit-driven media products and outlets that dominate the Canadian mediascape. They include traditional media forms – such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and film – as well as non-traditional media – such as zines and other Web-based publications. Some definitions also include street theatre, murals, postering, and culture jamming. But because the term “alternative media” poses the question “Alternative to what?” the field is notoriously difficult to define. Should it be confined to only radical or underground media, such as those that challenge the status quo, or should all media apart from large circulation daily newspapers and major television networks be included? Should it include media that operate in languages other than English or French? Should it encompass media directed toward specific ethnic and cultural groups? Should only non-profit media be considered? There are no easy answers to these questions. To define the term too broadly means including the growing number of industry, trade, and specialty media that focus on everything from the professional concerns of accountants to radio stations that play nothing but Elvis records. To define it too narrowly risks excluding media products that address the concerns of many ordinary people – concerns that often aren’t reflected in the media most readily at hand.” –Canadian Encyclopedia and read the rest of this amazing article here.


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