Students who wanted to learn more about the controversy surrounding the legalization of marijuana attended a debate hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty April 1 in the Alice Haynes Room.

There were three debaters at the event, Detective Tim Meacham of the University of Richmond Police Department -- although he was not representing the viewpoint of the URPD -- along with Thad Williamson and Jessica Flanigan, who are both professors in the Jepson School of Leadership.

Flanigan said all drugs should be legal, and people should be able to buy heroin at Walgreens, if they are so inclined. "I think it's not wrong to use marijuana," she said.

Williamson said marijuana should be legal, but he added some caveats. People need to think through a system for legalization before legalization occurs, he said.

Meacham said he would consider himself a conservative. However, he said in his 24 years as a police officer, he would rather deal with a person who was high on marijuana, as opposed to a person who was drunk on alcohol.

Tyler Lipositz, a freshman and the vice president of the university's YAL chapter, said he was disappointed there had been a lot of consensus on the issue among the debaters.

Not one of the debaters argued in favor of keeping marijuana illegal.

Diana Reighart, a sophomore and the president of the university's YAL chapter, said one of the goals of the debate had been to find a subject that would interest students and educate them on one libertarian viewpoint through the event.

Alex Lawson, a freshman and member of YAL, said, "The purely libertarian viewpoint is you're allowed to make whatever choices you want as long as you don't hurt anyone."

Lawson said on a personal level he disagreed with the legalization of marijuana. People do not fully understand the implications of legalizing marijuana, Lawson said. "You can't just legalize it and let it be," he said. "There has to be education."

One source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said she smoked marijuana both as recreation and as a way to medicate herself. "It should definitely be legal," she said. "People smoking on their own aren't hurting anyone."

Approximately 50 people attended the event.

Contact staff reporter Brennen Lutz at brennen.lutz@richmond.edu