DETROIT (WWJ) – Should marijuana use be legalized in Michigan? That question was front-and-center at a one day talk Friday at Wayne State University Law School.

Keynote speaker for the event was former State Attorney General Mike Cox, who believes more discourse on this issue is needed.

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“People voted in 2008 for medical marijuana and we ought to respect that,” said Cox.  “You know, we have too much governmental intrusion — whether it be Obama Care or whatever — but when people pass a constitutional amendment, it has to be respected.”

“My hope is that there’s a little more honest discussion on both sides,” he said.

State Policy Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Karen O’Keefe, said the prohibition of marijuana is a failed policy. “It should be replaced with a regulation and tax system, much like alcohol and tobacco,” she said.

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O’Keefe cited an increase in illegal marijuana use.

“We’ve had prohibition in this country for the past century in some states and, at the federal level, for several decades and the usage rates have actually gone up,” she said. “They’ve also gone up since the federal government declared the war on drugs, and this is costing us about $20 billion every single year, according to a Harvard economist.”

Opponents who believe marijuana should not be legalized call it a gateway to use of harder drugs like cocaine.

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