The Instigator
jamer12
Pro (for)
Winning
4 Points
The Contender
Input
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

All recreational drugs should be decriminalised.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
jamer12
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 847 times Debate No: 43004
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)

 

jamer12

Pro

First round will be acceptance only, I will be arguing for this idea.
Input

Con

I accept and thank my opponent for an intriguing idea.
All recreational drugs are bad....MMmkay & therefore should stay criminalized.
Debate Round No. 1
jamer12

Pro

I'm going to split the sections of my argument into different topics:

1: Freedom
If you live in a truly free country, should you not be able to put what you want into your body, provided you are not harming others? Why is it the business of the government if someone smokes cannabis in their own home, if people decide to take LSD at a party, etc? They are not harming anyone, consenting adults should be given the right to make their own decisions as to what they want to do with their body, it isn't up for anyone else to decide. To allow alcohol and tobacco to be perfectly legal and yet ban other illegal drugs, many of which are not as harmful as alcohol or tobacco, is hypocritical and insane.

2: Drug addiction is a health problem, not a crime
People addicted to drugs should not be treated as criminals and thrown into jail, because they aren't criminals, they are people who have taken a wrong turn in their life who need and deserve help, rather than being punished.

3: Black market
When you criminalise something, you create a black market for it. Black markets mean lower quality of product, lower quality of product means higher risk, and thus a higher number of people are suffering from heath issues as a result of a lower standard of drug. Simply look at what happened during the 1920's prohibition, alcohol produced was mixed with god knows what, and many, many people ended up with severe health issues, as well as alcohol-related deaths RISING, rather than falling. A creation of a black market also means money is now going to the hands of criminals, when it could be legalised, made into a profitable business for the U.S. Similarly, the rise of gangs means the streets are more dangerous with shootings, violence, turf disputes being a problem. By having these drugs illegal, we are literally creating organised crime groups, because there is just so much profit to be made when something is illegal.

4: Drugs are easier to get hold of than ever before
The prices of illegal drugs has not increased since the war on drugs began, but instead fallen, as well as purity being much, much higher. An example would be cocaine; in 1981 it cost roughly $550 for a gram of pure cocaine, whereas in 2003 it cost only $100 per pure gram (this is adjusted for inflation, also)[1]. Similarly, the average purity of cocaine in 1981 was roughly 40%, whereas in 2003 it was around 70%, that's a 30% jump[2], which means people now have more readiily available, more pure cocaine than they could have ever gotten before the war on drugs.

5: The war on drugs simply isn't working
Here are a few statistics: "45.3% of U.S. 12th graders reported having used marijuana once or more in their lifetime, with 22.9% reporting use in the previous 30 days."[3] "21.8 million Americans ages 12 and older told researchers they had used illegal drugs in the past month; that’s 8.7% of the population."[4]. With statistics like this, can you honestly say that criminalising these drugs is working? The war on drugs is, quite simply, a multi-billion dollar per year waste of tax money. This isn't even to mention the huge cost and strain the U.S puts on its prison system from millions of drug users, are these people really "criminals"? Is it worth putting a guy who smokes marijuana in prison, which costs roughly $22,000 per year to maintain? These people aren't murderers, they aren't rapists, they are just people who want to enjoy recreational drugs in their own time, why should they be punished for such a thing, and more importantly, why should we be paying for it?

References:
[1]: https://www.ncjrs.gov.... 20
[2]: https://www.ncjrs.gov...
[3]: http://adai.uw.edu...;
[4]: http://healthland.time.com...
Input

Con

Good argument Pro! I will attempt to answer your points and provide my arguments against legalization of recreational drugs.

1: Freedom
Of course we live in a "truly free country", yet there is freedom with responsibility or consequences from one's choices.
Just because recreational drugs are attainable does not mean that society needs to condone it. And decriminalizing recreational drugs does give society's blessing that it"s is no big deal.
Recreational drugs are NOT healthy for society. What good were our predecessors if they did not try to make it better for the future generations? Don't we want a better future for our children?

2: Drug addiction is a health problem, not a crime
This is a false argument, outside of being hooked on morphine/pain-killers from a serious accident, drugs are a choice. Because of knowledge of drugs and its outcome is so commonplace, it is a choice.
Recreational drugs are a crime for a reason. Drug addiction would be the inevitable outcome especially with ease of access. And recreational drugs WILL LEAD to major health problems which burden everyone therefore by banning it, society can curb it. [1]

3: Black market
Almost every time when anything is forbidden, a black market is created. Levis jeans were forbidden in the former USSR. [2] Alcohol was prohibited and yet it was appealed with Amendment 21. Alcohol, a legal recreational drug albeit, doesn't remain in one's system as long as the illegal recreational drugs do.
To endorse and decriminalize recreational drugs means that society approves of recreational drug usage.
Again, drugs are bad.
"An LSD trip can have long term psycho-emotional effects; some users cite the LSD experience as causing significant changes in their personality and life perspective." [3]
"There is no 'safe' frequency of use for cocaine. " [4] I won't go into the gory details with every drug because the knowledge is out there for anyone to see: mental disorders, dental horrors, kidney failures et cetera.
Until people develop a moral spine and not purchase things off the black market, there will always be a black market. Why not spend more time on building up the things that shield against drug usage, like family ties or encourage people to have a marriage and family tax breaks? It is easy to tear down but harder to build up. I digress, sorry.
There has to be a line, my opponent states that drug users are not murders or rapists, so it's only a little bit breaking the law. If one doesn't draw the line & enforce the laws (which are not currently done) there were be no respect and lawlessness.

4: Drugs are easier to get hold of than ever before
Before what? Drugs were accessible at the dawn of the US. In 1890 the US Congress, in its earliest law-enforcement legislation on narcotics imposes a tax on opium and morphine. And only in 1909 was the first federal drug prohibition passed in the US outlawing the importation of opium. [5] I believe the morality of the people have changed.

5: The War on Drugs simply isn't working
I concur with Pro's last point, which the War on Drugs is not working. Therefore the answer is enforcement or stronger enforcement of the current laws not abolishing of the drug laws.

It is rather silly to declare war on an inanimate object, e.g. War on Terror, because it allows grand sweeps of ambiguity by the politicians without holding them to any real accountability.

I suggest a COMPROMISE: we let the individual states and the people therein, make the decisions to decriminalize recreational drugs, Amendment X. [6] Let's keep the federal government out of it since they cannot be trusted. In that way, if pot heads want to be around easy access to pot and other like minded persons, they can have their utopia and flock to that state. And people who do not want to be surrounded by drug addled persons can move to states where recreational drugs are outlawed but don't be surprised if they enforce harsher penalties.

Right now however - Many people are without hope and want to escape reality. There are many forms of escapism and one of them is recreational drug usage. Life is hard but why make it harder on yourself or one's you care about and future generations. If you want drugs for recreational use, go to another country.
Recreational drug usage will lead to habitual usage and eventually empty out one's bank account, fry your brain cells, waste your life and leave one destitute, dead or a burden on society.

Don't decriminalize recreational drugs.

1 http://www.drugabuse.gov...
2 http://www.levistrauss.com...
3 http://listverse.com...
4 http://www.webmd.com...
5 http://www.pbs.org...
6 http://constitutioncenter.org...
Debate Round No. 2
jamer12

Pro

Some good points, I'll now try to refute your arguments.

"Of course we live in a "truly free country", yet there is freedom with responsibility or consequences from one's choices.", the freedom of responsibility and consequences of your choice are just that; your own freedom. By allowing consenting adults to make their own informed choices about what they want to put in their body is a fundamental human right, any country that wants to be free should respect that right.

"Just because recreational drugs are attainable does not mean that society needs to condone it. And decriminalizing recreational drugs does give society's blessing that it"s is no big deal.", people should be properly informed about the dangers of recreational drugs, and then they should be able to make their own decision about it. If we legalised these substances, we aren't saying it is "no big deal", just like how alcohol and tobacco are legal, people know of the consequences of these substances because they have been properly informed, they can then make their own decisions as to if they want to take them or not.

"Recreational drugs are NOT healthy for society. What good were our predecessors if they did not try to make it better for the future generations? Don't we want a better future for our children?", but alcohol and tobacco are healthy for society? Why is it perfectly fine to get completely wasted, to poison your lungs with smoke, but to take a bong hit or take a tab of LSD is totally taboo? This seems like a huge hypocrisy to me, unless, of course, you also believe alcohol and tobacco should be criminalised. As to your argument about a better society for future generations, I don't see how outlawing these substances will achieve that, all we are doing is creating yet another control mechanism, another black market, with all the turf disputes, money going to criminals, etc. that comes with it. Obviously, children should not be allowed to take these substances, as they are too young to make their own informed decisions, like with alcohol and tobacco.

"This is a false argument, outside of being hooked on morphine/pain-killers from a serious accident, drugs are a choice. Because of knowledge of drugs and its outcome is so commonplace, it is a choice." I think you are missing the point here, my point was that when someone does take an addictive substance, and they become dependent on it, it is a health problem, that isn't an opinion, it is factual, your body can become literally dependent on these substances, and you will do near anything to get your hands on it, otherwise you will go through withdrawal. My point was that locking these people up does not help them, they need proper, professional medical care, just with any sort of health problem, these people are not criminals, they are addicts.

"Recreational drugs are a crime for a reason. Drug addiction would be the inevitable outcome especially with ease of access. And recreational drugs WILL LEAD to major health problems which burden everyone therefore by banning it, society can curb it. [1]", again, back to alcohol and tobacco, why are these substances, which cause major health problems, addiction, everything that these criminalised drugs can do, totally legal? Should we ban every single thing that you can be addicted to, or will cause health problems? If that is the case, why don't we ban all high-salt food, alcohol, tobacco, aspirin, etc? People need to be allowed to make their own choices, it is not up to the government, me, you, anyone to make that choice for them, if people want to get completely drunk, let them, if people want to smoke marijuana, take a LSD hit, that is not my decision to make for them, they should be allowed to do so.

"Almost every time when anything is forbidden, a black market is created. Levis jeans were forbidden in the former USSR. [2] Alcohol was prohibited and yet it was appealed with Amendment 21. Alcohol, a legal recreational drug albeit, doesn't remain in one's system as long as the illegal recreational drugs do.", this is simply not true, many illegal recreational drugs are far less damaging than alcohol, in fact here is a list of drugs deemed less harmful than alcohol that are totally illegal: [http://www.listology.com...], as you can see, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, ketamine, speed, all drugs that have been demonised, are actually LESS harmful than alcohol, a totally legal substance! If you can't agree that all drugs should be legalised, you must at least see the insanity of keeping drugs that are LESS damaging to people illegal, but allow alcohol to be completely legal?

"To endorse and decriminalize recreational drugs means that society approves of recreational drug usage." but society does approves recreational drug usage, look at alcohol and tobacco? Besides, people need to be properly informed of the dangers of these drugs, but banning them just isn't the government's responsibility.

"Again, drugs are bad.", that doesn't mean people should not be allowed to choose if they want to take them or not, just like with high-salt food or alcohol.

"An LSD trip can have long term psycho-emotional effects; some users cite the LSD experience as causing significant changes in their personality and life perspective." OK? "People who drink heavily are more likely to suffer from mental health problems."[1], "On average, each cigarette shortens a smoker's life by around 11 minutes"[2], I can list more, but that isn't the point. The point is that it is THEIR CHOICE if they want to take these risks or not, it is not up to me or you.

"There is no 'safe' frequency of use for cocaine." Agreed, cocaine is not safe, but again, it is their choice if they want to take it or not, and I would much rather have legalised, regulated cocaine usage than some unpure garbage mixed with fillers.

"I won't go into the gory details with every drug because the knowledge is out there for anyone to see: mental disorders, dental horrors, kidney failures et cetera." Again, that is their decision, and alcohol and tobacco can do the same things, often worse.

"Until people develop a moral spine and not purchase things off the black market, there will always be a black market.", that made no sense... the black market exists because of an illegalisation of something, or a high tax, nothing else.

"Why not spend more time on building up the things that shield against drug usage, like family ties or encourage people to have a marriage and family tax breaks?" I agree, there should be efforts to properly inform people of the dangers of these substances, but banning them is not our responsibility.

"There has to be a line, my opponent states that drug users are not murders or rapists, so it's only a little bit breaking the law. If one doesn't draw the line & enforce the laws (which are not currently done) there were be no respect and lawlessness." No, I was saying the law is wrong, not that the law shouldn't be enforced.

"Before what? Drugs were accessible at the dawn of the US." statistically, drugs are now cheaper and more pure than ever before.

"I believe the morality of the people have changed.", clearly, but there's a difference between morality and control. A truly moral person doesn't make decisions for others, but rather informs them.

"Therefore the answer is enforcement or stronger enforcement of the current laws not abolishing of the drug laws." MORE enforcement? Why would you continue a law that is clearly shown to not work, that is like pouring fuel on a fire.

"It is rather silly to declare war on an inanimate object, e.g. War on Terror, because it allows grand sweeps of ambiguity by the politicians without holding them to any real accountability." Agreed.

I ran out of character space but to answer your last 2 paragraphs: I agree with voting, this is a democracy. Again, it is not our choice to not allow people to use these drugs, it is theirs.
Input

Con

Nice rebuttal Pro! In addressing your points, I will attempt to be concise.

"People should be properly informed about the dangers of recreational drugs." In the age of information, which I believe we are in, ignorance is a choice. The knowledge of the recreational drugs (from now on rec drugs) are there, plain for everyone to see. Insofar as illegal rec drugs: cannabis, LSD, et. al. being as safe as alcohol & tobacco, that is false. Please see my link with regards to cannabis containing 4xs the amount of tar that nicotine has. {http://www.debate.org...}

Moderation is the key.

Addictive substances are almost a whole different argument because what is addictive varies as people are varied.

People are addicted too much food, biting their nails (there are numerous pleasure zones located in the jaw line), shopping, gambling, feelings of being in love; there are numerous vices under the sun.

Psychosomatic addition is less harmful than biological addition. As master of self is a lifetime goal - mind skills. Illegal rec drugs create more of a biological addition; if you fry your brain cells there is no chance at accomplishing self-mastery. Yes, that point can be argued ad infinitum since frequency of usage is a factor in addiction.

Legal rec drugs are what society can stand. Illegal rec drugs have repercussions that society does not want to encourage by legalizing them (dealing with human vegetables that "chose that risk").

I agree that the current government stance, War on Drugs, does not work & "locking up these people" is not a viable solution. So you want to legalize everything, in my view: going backwards & not lifting up higher morals; and I want to go forward: harsher punishments and or a redistricting of geographic locations where rec drugs are lawful.

The US is a nation of laws. Globally people come to the US to live in a nation that has structure.

Let me clarify my Black Market viewpoint since I was not clear. Black Markets will exist. Those that abide the laws, people with moral spines do not frequent black markets since it usually harbors criminals and criminal elements.

Just because people choose to do illegal rec drugs, and it's "their choice" it becomes the burden upon those who chose not to do rec drugs and that is why recreational drugs need to stay criminalized. If a person who chose to fry their brains now becomes a burden instead of pillar for society, it becomes society's best interest to deter and create laws to do everything they can to deter such behavior.

You might have heard of the Marshmallow Test. It was an exercise in delaying gratification. "Children who are able to pass the marshmallow test enjoy greater success as adults."[1] If we legalize something that is inherently bad, it places the person in the same situation as the child with the marshmallow right there. In general, people are impulsive. Remove the obstacle & thereby, deter the vice. People do not normally have much self-control or moderation.

If you were able to reign over a society, would you not want fewer vices, granted alcohol & tobacco are a vice, available, not more? Why add to people's troubles? Therefore we should keep all recreational drugs illegal.

I thank my esteemed colleague for the chance to debate such a poignant conundrum.

If my opponent brought up the point that many artistic geniuses, Coleridge's poems and Lewis Carroll's stories for instance, works are heightened by illegal rec drugs, that would have been a point I could not have argued. I acknowledge there are very small instances where rec drugs are possibly useful but as a whole, for all society, no.

1. http://www.newyorker.com...
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Input 3 years ago
Input
*taking notes* These are awesome points! In essence, this helps me debate better!
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
Actually, the main issues were with a couple of syntactical errors, but they weren't that bad, just something to keep an eye out for.

As for your arguments, I think you just need to move beyond moralistic arguments or, if you want to focus on moralistic points, you really have to get into depth and explain why it matters beyond just stating that we want a better world for our kids. This world, the one that bans these drugs, is full of misery and death. What makes a world that allows people legal access do specifically to make this worse, and why should we all be afraid? It seems obvious, I know, but you'll be surprised as you go through this just how much thinking goes into providing this explanation.

One more argument I thought up. When Pro started with that freedom point, you didn't just pound him with how drug addiction hurts families physically (often through physical abuse dished out by the drug abuser), mentally (overdose is pretty common with some of the harder drugs, and death of a father, brother, mother, sister, etc. does tremendous psychological harm), and hurts strangers (car crashes for being in a heroine high come to mind). Just a thought.
Posted by Input 3 years ago
Input
Thanks for all the amazing feedback especially to whiteflame! I'm a noob at debating.
I'm bummed because I try to do the check spelling every time and don't see my own grammatical errors. :(
And this was an argument that I could have debated either side & I know the Compromise really hurt my debating.
Insofar as the Marshmallow Test, I guess I misinterpreted how persons with already weak restraint would not fair well in a society that legalized (oh did you mean misspelling for legalised, as in the Brit spelling? heehee) recreational drugs.
Thanks again for the constructive criticism! :D
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
And it's important too. Physical harm change is obvious, empowering criminal organizations is strong (though you could have said why that was damaging), so Pro winning this is a big point for him.

4. I really didn't see why this mattered in the round at all. Why does expense affect anything here? Why does that improve any of the moral implications, or prevent harm? I just don't see anything important.

5. This is the other piece of red meat in the round, and Con bites into it hard. Pro does a good job elucidating the harms of the War on Drugs and what it means, though more time could have been spent on how this actually ends up empowering cartels, creating violent confrontations (as seen with our cross border disputes with Mexico), and leading to stockpiling of dangerous weapons. When Con says that we should simply increase the amount of enforcement, he's just supercharging Pro's argument. The major costs involved and imprisonment issues definitely go to Pro.

So what do we have left? We have Con's "compromise," which to me seems like a partial concession that drug legalization isn't all bad and that freedom is good (which would supercharge Pro's 1). We have Con's argument about being a nation of laws, which I don't see tremendous support for or reason to vote for. We have a general moralistic argument, which I can't see the impacts for. And we have this comparison to the Marshmallow Test, which Con actually interprets incorrectly. The point was to show how many kids are likely to show restraint, and then see how those kids do as they grow up. The result was that the kids who showed restraint were usually best off. That's a problem, since Pro's argument gives them the opportunity to show restraint in the face of the lure of illicit drugs. It was the last argument, so Pro doesn't get that argument, but it doesn't help you.

So I vote Pro on convincing. Con had some grammatical errors, both had good conduct, and you're about even on good sources.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
Judging this debate is rather simple. We look at the 5 basic points by Pro, which were argued throughout the round, and see whether more harm has been attributed to legalization or more benefit. But before I get into it, I think the big problem here is that I didn't see anyone make substantive claims about what should matter in the round. Should physical harms to individuals matter, or moral standards? Should freedom matter, or money? All of these issues came up, and more, but since I had no weighing mechanism to decide which was most important, I've made my own assessments.

1. Freedom - this was a decent argument, if not as well articulated as it should have been. Why does personal freedom matter? How do we assess the importance of this specific personal freedom versus others? What makes it special? And why should it matter when we're comparing to health harms? I don't know the answers here. The only thing Con gives in the way of response is moral and physical harms of that choice. I feel Pro responded to the latter well, and the moral harms weren't well elucidated. Setting an example is great, but Con doesn't state what specific example we're setting, and why it should matter to set that standard beyond physical harm. Still, freedom isn't the biggest issue here, so while Pro is winning it, it gets a backseat.

2. I honestly don't know how this factors into the round. Why should it matter that it's treated as a criminal act? I can infer harms from overcrowded prisons, hardened criminals, suicides, etc., but I don't hear them. Again, relatively low importance.

3. This is where we start getting into the meat of the issue. Pro could have spent more time explaining why black markets are particularly bad and why they won't persist following legalization, but I can understand that as mostly given. Con didn't provide any arguments on increased usage following legalization, and most of his arguments were "crime happens after legalization." This goes to Pro.
Posted by zrg4848 3 years ago
zrg4848
@jamer12
I don't understand why you're using the term "recreational drugs", there are so many less vague and defining phrases to use. "Illegal narcotics" "illegal hallucinogenic's" or simply using a blanket statement of "illegal drugs" while adding stipulations for drugs you don't think should be legal. Using "recreational drugs" as your key phrase is very confusing because recreational drugs in the USA are cigarettes, alcohols, and so on, but you're trying to apply it to drugs that are illegal which contradicts the basis of the phrase, as recreational implies that they are both legal and commonly sold openly. I don't want to come off as rude, it's just that if you don't use clearly defined terms your opponent may start an argument about something else entirely having understood the basis as something completely different.
Posted by jamer12 3 years ago
jamer12
Hello, "Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, either legal or controlled or illegal substances, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience."
Posted by Input 3 years ago
Input
Hi! I'd be against it but what are the "recreational drugs"?
There are quite a varied amount, starting from solvents, LSD, heroin, barbiturates. ecstasy, cocaine, amphetamines, opium to cannabis.
Could you narrow down your rec drugs def OR is it all that I've mentioned?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
whiteflame
jamer12InputTied
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Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
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Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Given (extensively) in comments.