Organizations debate marijuana, other political issues

In light of the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 4, several student organizations got together to host a political debate Oct. 22 in the Student Activities Center.

Organizers included the College Democrats, the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, the Office of Civic Engagement, the Debate Team and the Pen and Sword Society. The event gave students the chance to listen to the perspectives of the two major political parties, represented by the Young and College Democrats and the College Republicans, regarding issues on the 2014 midterm ballot.

The Young and College Democrats were represented in the debate by the club’s Vice President, Dylan Swart, and two new members Daniel Ivanov and Joseph Pettinelli. The members of the College Republicans were Vice President of the Debate Team, Joe Karam, and two members of the club, Spencer George and Georges Duplessy.

The first debated issue was the legalization of marijuana. The official title of the bill is the use of marijuana solely for medical purposes. It would legalize all cannabis strains but only for medical use and through the prescription of a qualified physician.

College Republicans focused on the holes in the implementation of a bill legalizing marijuana and called for a more detailed approach.

“If we want to do this, let’s do it right,” Karam said. “We need the legislature to come up with a comprehensive bill, not a vague outliner bill, to come up with an effective solution for the future.”

College Democrats argued that there is no reason to worry when marijuana prescriptions would be in the hands of medical professionals. They insisted that fighting marijuana legislation is costing government a lot of money.

“We’re spending too much money fighting a drug war that we’re not winning,” Swart said.

The next issue that was discussed was the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, a measure which would allocate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. This fund was created in 1963 and designed to manage and conserve natural systems.

Democrats called for immediate action, stating the imminent danger climate change poses to Florida’s future and the Everglades. Republicans countered by addressing Rick Scott’s budgetary commitment of $880 million for a water quality plan for the Everglades.

The debate then segued to the importance of affordable education in the state of Florida with respect to the candidates’ track records.

College Republicans explained Crist’s decision to spike tuitions when he was governor of Florida as opposed to Rick Scott’s reputation of having the lowest tuition rates for public schools in the country

“We tried to make it so public schools would remain as cheap as possible and made it so our state universities have some of the lowest tuition rates in the country,” said George.

Young Democrats responded by stating that Republicans give tax cuts to corporations and then cover it with education cuts.

The debate also covered topics including campaign finance, medicaid cuts, immigration reform with respect to citizenship inclusion, the exclusion of the libertarian candidate, Alfred Wyllie, from the debates, and the relevance of midterm elections for University of Miami students.

For any student interested in tips on how to register to vote, an information session covering the do’s and don’ts of voting will be held Nov. 3 at the SAC Activities North from to 6 to 7 p.m.


Featured photo courtesy of meknits on Flickr.