VIDEO: Dr. Tom Shieh and Retired Chief Justice Pete Siguenza Debate Legalization of Marijuana

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Guam – The Rotary Club of Guam held a debate on the legalization of both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. Dr. Tom Shieh debated against the legalization while former Chief Justice Pete Siguenza debated for the legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana.

The pros and cons of marijuana were argued today during a debate at the Rotary Club of Guam. Sporting a biker jacket and tattoos the now retired former Guam Supreme Court Chief Justice Pete Siguenza argued for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for both medicinal use and recreational use. He says that the war on drugs has been as much as a failure as the long time repealed prohibition on alcohol. 

“We’ve been at this war on drugs since 1970 that’s what more than 40 years and there’s no end in site apparently. It’s going to keep going the way it is until somebody makes the change, somebody stands up to the prohibitionists, somebody stands up to the temperance league,”

He also argued that the scheduling of drugs is ridiculous. schedule ii includes drugs like pcp, morphine, methamphetamines and cocaine. Schedule one includes extreme hallucinogens like LSD, peyote, mescaline, but for some reason it also includes marijuana. “Marijuana is a schedule one substance and I think that’s ridiculous. So if we’re gonna rely on, the people are gonna rely on the federal government to let them know what is dangerous and what is not, I suggest they look at this. Marijuana is a schedule one item and here is another point alcohol is no where to be found in any of these schedules nor is nicotine,” said Siguenza.

 Dr. Tom Shieh is against the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes and he’s not convinced of it’s use medicinally until he sees more conclusive evidence. “The acute intoxication can impair short term memories impair attention coordination and balance you wouldn’t smoke marijuana and go out and drive a car let alone ride a bike or go out into a race track and drive a hot rod you’re not going to do that,” said Dr. Shieh. He also argues that the potency of marijuana is increasing significantly compared to the marijuana of the 60’s and 70’s. “But now you’re coming with hybrid plants you’re coming with genetically engineered plants these plants are now the potency are very high. Some go up to 20 percent of THC that’s in there so when you take a puff of the marijuana the effects of it are pretty high,” said Dr. Shieh.

 As for medicinal use Dr. Shieh says he has yet to see the evidence supporting it’s medical benefits. “I wanna see the evidence if not you can sue me for malpractice if I was taking care of a patient and say hey it’s your common sense go and smoke marijuana it’s gonna decrease your anxiety it’s gonna decrease your depression but i have no evidence to show you that it does have those effects. It’s called anecdotal. Anecdotal effects are not scientifically based,” said Dr. Shieh.

 Siguenza brought up the fact that CNN’s leading medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta was once opposed to medical marijuana but after doing more research has since changed his mind and now sees the benefit. “The leading medical correspondent for CNN news changes his mind and he now in public has said I apologize. He says I apologize, I didn’t read the material close enough I didn’t look at all the other studies that are available from other countries. The FDA response is we didn’t study marijuana, why? Because, it’s a catch 22, it’s an illegal substance,” said Siguenza. The retired Chief Justice also believes that alcohol is far more dangerous than marijuana. “There were 50 thousand deaths on average caused by alcohol each year. Direct deaths from marijuana as far as the material I’ve read zero none. When was the last time you’ve ever heard of a domestic violence case where marijuana was involved? None. Alcohol almost all the time, yet we still have alcohol legal,” said Siguenza.

 Dr. Shieh argued that although legalizing marijuana could create more business opportunities . “I almost guarantee you you’re gonna have a hundred marijuana stores down the street the entire Tumon is going to have marijuana bars but I think the question here is are you willing to take the risks of intoxication and accidents and the impact on healthcare I can tell you is gonna be in the millions and millions of dollars,” said Dr. Shieh. Siguenza countered saying that marijuana, just like alcohol, would be regulated and it would be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.

 “I’ve never smoked marijuana by the way okay,” said Dr. Shieh “I rest my case,” replied retired Justice Siguenza igniting laughter from Rotarians. Today’s debate was sparked by the recent introduction of Resolution 201 by Senator Tina Muna Barnes. It’s a resolution that supports the decriminalization of marijuana and supports it’s medicinal use.