Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday afternoon I stopped off at the Southern California Junior Statesmen Spring State Convention. It's always energizing to see high school students interested in political issues.
I sat in on a debate: Resolved, the legalization of marijuana should be an issue left up entirely to the states.
It was fascinating to watch the main speakers trying to figure out how to persuade the crowd to their side.
The main Pro speaker, Matthew Hanson of Marywood-Palm Valley High School, started out by trying to change the subject. He argued the debate wasn't about whether marijuana should be legal or not, instead he wanted to discuss the importance of states' rights. (OK, he gets points in the Junior Statesmen scorebook for that -- but it was clear that "states' rights" was not the reason more than 100 students picked this debate to attend out of the 7 debates happening at the same time.)
The main Con speaker, Nadia Mokhtari of Burroughs High School, didn't take the bait and shrewdly ignored the states' rights issue. Instead she went with a myriad of reasons the federal government should decriminalize marijuana and had the crowd in the palm of her hand. (Given the age demographics of the room it was a pretty pro-pot crowd.)
Hanson, in his closing remarks, astutely recognizing he was getting creamed completely changed his arguments and went with the notion that the federal government will never legalize marijuana and instead, we the brilliant people of the great State of California should take the matter into our own hands and take care of it for ourselves -- we shouldn't have to wait for the federal government to legalize marijuana.
And in a stunning turnaround, the audience voted something like 120 to 10 in favor of the resolution.
I was impressed!