The Culp Center Ballroom at ETSU was brimming with students on April 21, who were eagerly awaiting the Great Weed Debate – which started at exactly 4:20 p.m.
ETSU’s Forensics and Debate Team sponsored the event, along with the Counseling Center, Bucs Press 2, ETSU Eco Nuts and Campus Alcohol and Other Drugs Program.
In addition to the debate, campus organizations set up booths, refreshments were served and a panel discussion was held with ETSU professors Chris Dula and Matthew Palmatier and Lt. Scotty Carrier with the Johnson City Police Department.
Some of the organizations hosting booths included College Democrats, the College of Libertarians, Psi Chi, the Counseling Center and the Chemistry Club.
Dubbed, “a blunt dispute among buds,” on the program, Elena Lawitzke of the pro team backed this up, saying, “usually in a debate tournament or a competition it’s a lot more catty… but we’re all teammates here and we just want to educate instead of win.”
The pro team, which argued for the decriminalization of marijuana, consisted of Elena Lawitzke, Alex Rice and Mathew Williams.
Some of the pro team’s main arguments were that, should marijuana possession under 14 grams be decriminalized, tax dollars could be freed up and reallocated to other projects, such as infrastructure and education, and law enforcement officers would be able to better focus on pursuing opioid usage, which is prevalent in Tennessee.
The con team, which argued against the decriminalization of marijuana, consisted of Kailey Nieman, Katie Brimer and Jakeb Rasnake.
The con team’s argument was primarily based on refuting the pro team’s assertion that the decriminalization of possession under 14 grams would free up taxpayer money, and asserting that marijuana, which is easily laced, could actually worsen Tennessee’s opioid problem.
Braden Trent served as moderator of the debate.
While the debate was taking place, a live feed of tweets with #GWD17 were displayed on either side of the stage, as well as a percentage of voters who agreed with the pro or con teams. With a total of 80 people voting, an overwhelming 89 percent were in favor of decriminalizing marijuana.
Tweets in #GWD17 ranged from the serious, “Legalize it! Don’t criticize it! Colorado earned $1.3 billion in tax revenue to spend on schools, infrastructure, and harm reduction,” to the sarcastic, “Weed causes death. Everyone who smokes will eventually die.”