Clash over the legalization of marijuana subject of 2016 Fordham Debate at University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law


(Oct. 10, 2019) —Should marijuana be legalized in the United States?

Several states have legalized the drug for non-medical purposes and other states have loosened regulations and made exceptions for its use. Advocates believe that legalization will help enhance the well-being of citizens and economic prospects of these states and reduce crime associated with illicit drug markets.  Opponents argue that legalization will only lead to more dependency and usage of other drugs, a harm to young people and vulnerable citizens and increased criminal activity.  Who is right?

The University of Utah on Oct.19 will host two of the nation’s leading experts to explore this evolving and timely topic for the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s 33rd Annual Jefferson B. Fordham Debate. slider_fordham_2016_ejfkqg

The 6 p.m. debate will take place in the moot courtroom on the sixth floor of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street. Overflow rooms will be set up on the sixth floor if seating fills in the auditorium. The event will also be streamed live on the law school’s YouTube channel.  The public is welcome at the free event, but RSVPs are requested by visiting this link or emailing:

This year’s event includes Kevin Sabet and Paul Butler. Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, has studied, researched and written about drug policy for almost 20 years.

Butler, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, is one of the nation’s most frequently consulted scholars on issues of race and criminal justice.

The debate will be moderated by S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Shima Baughman, a nationally recognized expert in criminal law issues including drugs, bail, and violent crime.

Baughman’s article, “Drugs and Violence,”  was published in USC Law Review last year. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, National Public Radio, The Economist, The Washington Post, Forbes and other media outlets. She has presented her work at Stanford, Cornell, NYU, UCLA and to groups of judges and attorneys across the country. Her articles have been published in law journals of the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, Texas, George Washington, Minnesota, and the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. She is currently working on a book, Bail and Mass Incarceration, with Cambridge University Press. Her textbook, Criminal Law: Case Studies and Controversies (4th Ed Aspen), coauthored with Paul Robinson and Michael Cahill is forthcoming this year.

The Fordham Debate is named in honor of Professor Jefferson B. Fordham, an outstanding legal scholar and defender of individual and civil rights who joined the University of Utah College of Law faculty in 1972. The annual debate addresses relevant contemporary public policy and legal issues.

Participant Profiles: A Closer Look

Kevin Sabet, Director, Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida; Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida.
Author, consultant, advisor to three U.S. presidential administrations, and assistant professor, Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., has studied, researched, written about, and implemented drug policy for almost 20 years. He has worked in the Clinton (2000), Bush (2002-2003) Administrations, and in 2011 he stepped down after serving more than two years as the senior advisor to President Obama’s drug control director, having been the only drug policy staffer to have ever served as a political appointee in a Democrat and Republican administration. He has appeared since at the Aspen Ideas and New Yorker festivals, on the Organization of American States blue ribbon commission advising hemispheric drug policy, and in hundreds of forums and discussions promoting the ideas outlined in his first book, Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, published by Beaufort. He has been featured on the front page of the New York Times and in virtually every major media publication and news channel on the subject of drug policy.

Paul Butler, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Professor Butler researches and teaches in the areas of criminal law, race relations law, and critical theory. His scholarship has been published in many leading scholarly journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Harvard Law Review (two articles), the Stanford Law Review and the UCLA Law Review (three articles).  He is the author of the widely reviewed “Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice,” which received the Harry Chapin Media award. Professor Butler is one of the nation’s most frequently consulted scholars on issues of race and criminal justice. His work has been profiled on 60 Minutes, Nightline, and The ABC, CBS and NBC Evening News, among other places. Professor Butler has written a column for The Legal Times and has published numerous op-ed articles and book reviews, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Daily Beast. He lectures regularly for the American Bar Association and the NAACP, and at universities and community organizations. Professor Butler has been awarded the Soros Justice Fellowship. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 2003. Butler is the author of the book, Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice.


Media interview requests and inquiries may be directed to Melinda Rogers, media relations manager at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.  Cell: 801-608-9888. Email: