By Steve Elliott
More than 200 people attended a debate on marijuana legalization in St. Louis suburb Richmond Heights Wednesday night.
The National Narcotics Officers Coalition's vice president, Sgt. Jason Grellner, squared off with Executive Director John Payne of pro-legalization group Show Me Cannabis at the St. Louis Ethical Society. Show Me Cannabis plans to poll voters to see if there's enough support to put marijuana legalization on the ballot next year.
Payne argued that treating marijuana like alcohol is the best policy. "Cannabis prohibition does not actually achieve goals that it has set out to achieve," he said, reports KMOX.
But Grellner claimed today's marijuana is different. "The THC levels back in the 1960s and 1970s were around 1-2 percent; now we're seeing the regular street kids with 11 percent spiking at 20 percent." The narcotics associated vice president claimed that legalization would lead to more people smoking pot.
KSDK reporter Anne Allred described the 90-minute debate as "respectful" and "professional." It included written questions from the audience.
"It's probably about half and half, both arguments on both sides, very good," said Cecil King of St. Louis City, when asked who won. "It's something both sides should get involved in and take a look at."