CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - It's an argument within an argument, is weed safer than alcohol, and if so, should states legalize the drug?
A Denver advocacy group is spending thousands of dollars to persuade people to talk about legalizing marijuana. They're doing so by showing billboards and ad campaigns surrounding working professionals choosing marijuana over alcohol, because they say it's safer.
"Most people use it in a responsible way there are lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc, and they go about their daily lives, and they shouldn't have to face legal harassment for their choice of ways to relax after work," said John Payne with Show-Me Cannabis Regulation.
Payne is one pushing to legalize the drug in Missouri.
"Marijuana doesn't have, doesn't damage the liver, it may have, it has some carcinogens in it, but there haven't been proven cases of cancer caused from it and the lung damage appears to be very minor," said Payne.
But people like Chance Petiniot said the damage can be more than minor.
"I started smoking marijuana in 6th grade, at 12, by the age of 20, I was on to cocaine and heavy opiates," said Petiniot.
Petiniot said weed can be a gateway drug to other substances, and said he thinks if it's legal, it will only increase harder drug use.
"I didn't start off doing drugs addicted to cocaine, I started off with marijuana," said Petiniot.
Wayne Soemo with Teen Challenge agrees.
"Anybody who is selling marijuana, not far behind him is somebody who is selling meth, not the case for alcohol sales," said Soemo.
Drug Court Administrator Steve Narrow said one of the big differences between alcohol and marijuana is that the effects of alcohol can be measured.
"Marijuana users tend to say I can operate this vehicle just fine under the influence of marijuana, in fact I probably drive way better, than somebody who's under the influence of alcohol, and again that's an anecdote of a pot user, there's no research that shows that," said Narrow.
"It's a hoax, a fairy tale, you have no control, your reaction time is way slower on marijuana," Petiniot.
But Payne said it's about human freedom, and responsibility.
"Everyone has different ways of unwinding from the stresses of the day, you know some people have a drink, some people go for a massage, or go swimming, or something but you know some people prefer to use marijuana," said Payne.