We just taped it, with a live audience: Judge Jim Gray, Sheriff Lee Baca, Oakland City Attorney Joe Russo, me, Larry Mantle moderating.
And no, neither side of the drug-legalization debate has invented any new arguments or dropped any old ones, no matter how often they’ve been shown to be logically wrong or factually baseless.
I was recruited because they lost an “anti” at the last minute, but I made it clear I’m undecided: equally un-thrilled with the tactics of both sides. The advocates of the proposition couldn’t explain how it was supposed to work, except that the cities and counties would somehow work it out; Sheriff Baca couldn’t explain why locking up pot-sellers is a good use of prison cells.
Overall, though, I thought it the debate was both civil and somewhat illuminating.
Update Here’s a partial list of oft-debunked falsehoods and fallacies that came up once again last evening:
1. Cannabis is not in fact California’s leading cash crop. That claim was satire, not calculation.
2. Evidence for the causal version of the “gateway” theory – that making cannabis more available would increase use of cocaine, opiates, or methamphetamine – is roughly non-existent.
3. The Netherlands (not, properly, “Holland”) did not in fact legalize pot-growing, precisely because its treaty obligations – the same as ours – forbade it.
4. Decriminalization (as in Portugal and Argentina) is not the same as the legalization of commerce.
5. Cannabis does not contribute 60% of the revenues of the armed Mexican drug trafficking organizations, or anything like that share. Maybe 10-20%.
6. Alcohol is not harder than cannabis for teenagers to acquire. Legalizing cannabis can’t possibly make it less available.