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America should Legalize Drugs

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/24/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,426 times Debate No: 41149
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




R1: Definitions and Acceptance
R2: Primary Arguments
R3: Arguments and Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals and Closing Statements


Drug: A chemical substance which, when introduced to the body, produces a degree of physiological effects.

Legalize: To make something permissible by law, without punishment.

Tax: A compulsory contribution to state revenues.

Addiction: Compulsive drug craving and use.

*No semantics
*No arguments in the final round
*No name-calling

Resolution: The United States of America should legalize all drugs for all free adults over the age of 18. By legalizing these substances, the state could tax and regulate their usage. Furthermore, individuals (over the age of 18) who produce, distribute, or consume drugs shall not be punished for any of aforementioned acts.

And with this, I await a worthy adversary!


There are actually many reasons why drugs should not be legalized and some of them will even make those who use drugs stop and consider. If someone uses a drug knowing it is not good for them, it is called drug abuse. Even those who may not have a full blown addiction are still abusing drugs, even though they may not realize it.

Right now, drug dealers and drug cartels are reaping the benefits of those who buy drugs. Should drugs become legalized, the governments will take over the pricing and, of course, the taxing on them. Neither option is a favorable one. As things stand right now, with laws in place, there are those who are turned away from drugs simply because they are illegal. Legalizing drugs would expand an already overgrown drug problem across the world, and basically, people would have no reason not to try and use them.
Marijuana used to be called a gateway to stronger drugs. Now, the government is thinking of legalizing it. Does it then mean they would legalize the stronger drugs as the demand grew? Again, the government would be pricing and taxing the drugs which means more people will destroy their lives trying to get the money to afford their own drugs. In effect, the government will be able to sell an individual some drugs, jail them for using those drugs and for instance, DWUI charges.

* Legalizing drugs will make them so much more accessible to children.

Children as young as 12 years old already are admitting in surveys that they have tried drugs. If drugs are legalized and more adults have the drugs, then more children will have access to them. The reason some drugs became illegal is because there used to be a time when a very few drugs were authorized. It leads to deaths, legal altercations, domestic abuse and all kinds of unfavorable circumstances. This is why they became illegal to begin with. The facts are not going to change, except for worsen if drugs become legal and more people will have ready access, including children. More people will become abusers or addicted when rehab centers are already full on a nearly constant basis. It seems odd that the government would spend years telling people that drugs kill and then turn around and want to become the world"s biggest drug dealer. -
Everyone agrees that something must be done about the tremendous physical
and emotional health problems that drug abuse causes. Concern about the abuse
of drugs is so widespread that recent polls indicate it to be one of the most
serious problems in today's world, threatening the security and freedom of whole
nations. Politicians, health experts and much of the general public feel that no
issue is more important than drug abuse. America's other pressing social
problems- disease, poverty, child abuse and neglect, and corruption- often have
a common element; that is drug abuse. The use of illegal drugs such as cocaine,
crack, heroin and marijuana cause extensive harm to the body and brain. Yet,
even after knowing this many people want illegal drugs to be legalized in every
aspect. The last thing we need is a policy that makes widely available
substances that impair memory, concentration and attention span; why in God's
name foster the uses of drugs that make you stupid? The campaign for drug
legalization is morally disgusting.The number of people who are addicted to
illegal drugs or are users of these drugs is quite shocking. Drug abuse is
clearly an injurious and sometimes fatal problem. The leaders of the
international economic summit in Paris in July 1989 concluded that the
devastating proportions of the drug problem calls for decisive action. On
September 5, 1989, President Bush called upon the United States to join in an
all-out fight against drugs. The United States Congress reports an estimated 25
to 30 million addicts of illegal drugs worldwide. Not all users are addicts, but
some of the 26 million regular users of illegal drugs in the United States are
addicted. Reports of child abuse to New York social services tripled between
1986 and 1988 and most of the cases involved drug abuse. Approximately 35
percent of the inmates of state prison were under the influence of illegal drugs
at the time they committed the crimes for which they are incarcerated. In some
parts of the country, that percentage is as high as 75 to 80! Another fact that
hits people hard is that out-right deaths from illegal drugs have quadrupled in
the last ten years! The proportion of 19 to 22 year olds who were at risk from
using illegal drugs rose from 44 percent in 1980 to 69 percent in 1987. Among
17-18 year olds the shift over the same interval was from 50 percent to 74
percent (Williams 226)! The abuse of illegal drugs is very threatening to
America's future. These drugs are the cause of many problems and crimes. Among
these many drug users exist some people who continue to resist drugs and have
been called the real heroes of the drug war (Hyde, 372). Although, drug abuse is
a serious and threatening problem today, it can be brought under control with
acceptable means.
The use of illegal drugs such as cocaine, crack, heroin and marijuana have
been proved to cause unbelievable damage and harm to the body and brain. As well
as we know, AIDS is a deadly disease which people are very frightened of today.
When parents bring a child into this world the main concern is that the child
be healthy. It is an impossible deed for a drug addict female to give birth to a
healthy child. Babies who are born with the AIDS virus should thank their
mothers who were drug addicts and brought them into this world to pay for their
own mistakes! According to Patrick Emmet, author of Drugs in America, when
cocaine is smoked, it is absorbed into the lungs and carried to the brain in
about 8 seconds (152). It depresses the breathing center in the brain and
increases the risk of death from heart failure or overdose. Doctors believe that
when a pregnant woman uses crack, the drug can trigger spasms in the blood
vessels of the fetus, restricting the supply of oxygen and nutrients, in turn
causing problems in development. When a pregnant woman takes large doses of
cocaine, the placenta may tear loose, killing the fetus and putting the mother's
life in danger. Even one use of crack can cause serious damage to fetus or to a
breast-fed baby. Heroin is another illegal drug that causes great harm and can
be life-taking too. When heroin is used it reaches the brain via the bloodstream
and is transformed into the depressant morphine. Heroin produces feelings of
euphoria, mental confusion and drowsiness. In addiction to many other effects on
the body, it depresses respiratory function (168). Thousands of heroin addicts
die from overdoses each year. Heroin users are also at great risk of getting
AIDS from the used of unclean needles. An estimated 60 percent of heroin addicts
in New York City carry the virus, and needle sharing among addicts represents a
major potential route for the spreading of the AIDS virus. According to a
National Research Council report in 1989, nearly 70 percent of the heterosexual
adults infected with the AIDS virus got the virus through an intravenous
connection. The U.S. Public Health service predicted about a threefold increase
in the cumulative total of reported cases of AIDS among addicts between 1989 and
1991. When marijuana is smoked, about two thousand separate chemicals are
produced, and many of the chemicals do not readily pass through the body.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting this debate! I'll present my arguments, as that was what we were supposed to do this round.


C1: Physiological Effects of Drugs

I hope that we can have an honest debate which is grounded in sound facts, empirical evidence, and structured with reasonable logic.

Drugs are chemical substances that affect the body through a variety of physiological and psychological effects, depending on the drug taken.

Likelihood of a First Time User Becoming Addicted [1]:






In an experiment, the researchers gave heroin and morphine injections to subjects, and hardly anyone finds the effects desirable; almost everybody expressed indifference or dislike. [2]

Researchers at a California clinic gave cocaine to 200 volunteers. None become addicts or even turned into abusers. [3]

People can sniff/smoke crack without becoming addicted or losing social productivity. [4] Heroin users have productivity levels comparable to average employees. [5]

A study found that adults need to abuse cocaine for an average of 6.6 years before experiencing a single problem. [6]

Marijuana produces trivial physical effects. [7] However, it can help people with hunger, pain, cancer, memory, among other medical effects.

LSD is "exceptionally safe". [8] A lethal dose of LSD has yet to be found. [9]

Methamphetamine produces the same effects as the prescription medication Adderall. [10]

PCP rarely promotes aggressiveness, and users who become violent already have a history of violence without PCP. [11]

The wide array of facts that I presented above serve as clear evidence that drugs (especially in moderation), are relatively mundane.


C2: Nature of Criminalization

S1: A Black Market for Drugs

If we criminalize drugs, we use the judicial system to punish those who produce, distribute, or consume drugs.

Thus, we create a black market for drugs. All activity is underground and unregulated by the law.

Suppliers can't rely on the judicial system, and theerefore rely on bribes, fear, and turf violence. These tactics, especially the last one, leads to the deaths of innocent bystanders and children. It's killed 60,000 in Mexico. [12]

The lure of profits bring suppliers into the business of providing drugs. Once one drug supplier is eradicated, profits rise and therefore bring new drug suppliers into the market. Therefore, the "drug war" is unwinnable.

S2: A Strain on Government

In the United States, we spend $41.3 billion each year on drug prohibition. [14]

Altogether, 21% of state prisoners, and 58% of federal prisoners, are imprisoned simply because of drug-related crimes (many times possession). [15] And consequently, we turn innocent citizens, who are guilty only of using a chemical substance, into hardened criminals.

Finally, the Constitution does not grant the federal government the ability to criminalize drugs.

S3: Sociological Harm

The War on Drugs disproportionately harms ethnic minorities, even though they are not more likely to use illegal drugs. [16]

Furthermore, the idea of illegal drugs splits and divides up society. It is regular people and drug users. They aren't us. Such stereotypes include the following ---- African Americans use cocaine and marijuana, the Chinese use opiates, the hippies use psychedelics, and the Mexicans use meth. It is horrible stereotypes which give the political leaders the reasoning to enforce the war on drugs, because as we have seen, drugs aren't harmful enough to necessitate criminalization.

However, although America's people are diverse, we share the same unique values in democracy, fairness, justice, and freedom. We can't divide ourselves into all these groups because ultimately, we are all Americans.


C3: The Case for Legalization

S1: Government Regulation

If we legalized drugs, the government could regulate and tax drugs. Indeed, taxing drugs (same rate as alcohol and tobacco) would raise over $30 billion annually. [17] Taxing drugs would reduce their intake as well (the evidence suggests a strong negative elasticity between the price of drugs and their consumption). [15]

A drug producing unpredictable strength and occurrence will encourage users to invest more of their time and money on drugs. The unreliability of adulterated, misbranded drugs sets up this structure of reinforcement.

If we legalized drugs, government could regulate these substances and create standards of guaranteed purity.

We could outlaw individuals under the age of 18 from using marijuana or other substances, making access more difficult.

This is supported by empirical evidence. A study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that teenagers could more readily access marijuana than beer or prescription drugs. [21] So your argument that criminalizing drugs reduces their availability is simply not true.

S3: Markets

Legalization would create a marketplace for drugs. Competition among providers would lead to (1) reduced costs and (2) higher quality (improving the safety of these substances).

Consequently, hazardous dealerships would be wiped out because they use substances that have more hazards.

S3: Sociological Controls

Social controls over time develop to control and reduce drug problems. Alcohol is one. In former times, most alcohol drinkers were abusers [18], yet today, most authorities avoid untoward consequences [19].

Lower prices would encourage people to use less potent varieties of drugs as well. Prohibition makes more potent types of drugs become more popular, as they become more versatile and transportable.

When Prohibition ended, the ratio of beer sales to whiskey sales rose. When opiates were banned, people used the more refined heroin. And when cocaine was criminalized, people resorted to crack cocaine. [20]

S4: Freedom

As human citizens, we should allow people to live their lives as individuals please. People should be allowed to live their lives as they please as long as their freedom doesn't interfere with the rights of others.

Legalizing drugs would also individual liberty.

In some areas, the consumption of coffee led to the death penalty. [13] Do we really need to go further down this path?



[2 Jaffe and Martin, "Opioid Analgesics and Antagonists," in Goodman and Gilman, Pharmacological 7th ed., 498

[3] Siegel, Intoxication, 309-10; Bower, "Drugs," 393.

[4] Morley, "What," 12-13; "Attitude," 4, 40; Johnston, O'Malley, and Bachman, Drug (National Institute on Drug Abuse), 6, 39; Siegel, Intoxication, 309-10.

[5] Chein, Isidor. The Road to H: Narcotics, Delinquency, and Social Policy. 1964. 359. Print.

[6] "Users Tell of a Cocaine 'Honeymoon,' " Kansas City Star, May 9, 1989, pp. 1A, 4A.

[7] Louria, Overcoming, 38. Murray ("Marijuana's," 29) reports, "Frequent users seemed more likely to respond to cues of familiar taste and smell (i.e. psychological factors) than to the THC.

[8] Levine and Ludwig, "LSD," 318. See also McWilliams and Tuttle, "Long," 341, 349.

[9] Bercher, Licit, 335; Strassman, "Adverse," 579; Jaffe, "Drug Addiction and Drug Abuse," in Goodman and Gilman, Pharmacological 7th ed., 565.

[10] Hart, Dr. Carl. High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges All That You Know About Drugs and Society . Harper Collins, 287-289. Print.

[11] Feldman, "PCP Use in Four Cities: An Overview," in Feldman, Agar, and Beschner, Angel, 30, 39-50.




[15] Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs. National Research Council, 2001. Print.



[18] Jacbson and Zinberg, Social, 2.

[19] Rublowsky, Stoned, 72.

[20] Miller, Richard. The Case for Legalizing Drugs. 1991. 144. Print.




debatelala forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Also, my oppponent plagiarized his arguments from this source ( I extend my arguments...


debatelala forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Contra forfeited this round.


debatelala forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
Yeah first graph is what I wanted. I read the full study. Unconvincing. Basically subjective in our opinion analysis. Use economic cost in money (alcohol 200 billion heroin 20 billion), then make your own calculations as to the difference in usage rates to account for the number of users differences--see which one comes out on top. I haven't done that. I did something similar on death penalty costs, though.

The race point is interesting. But it points more towards reform than total change.

When it comes to usage, one could argue the graph is misleading.. It does not have drug usage before 1970--war began in 1971, so it's not a complete time series graph. Second, one could argue that most of those dollars are wasted and superior strategies could be used.

For example, I think legalization would increase use, however banning it no matter what will cost money. Increased use would lower productivity, but banning it makes it more potent. Legalization would increase crime, but banning it also causes crime in Mexico and causes a black market (locally I think it breaks even, however--mere speculation which could be false). Incarcerating drug users decreases use and addiction (Levitt & some other dude [lol] 2001-- need to cite cause I found interesting), but rehab programs in jails decrease addiction and crime as well. I'm undecided.

If I were king, I would likely simply reform prohibition with stronger racial checks (more studies on possible racism, if so get a council to see how to fix it), make punishment for users include emphasis rehab, first time offenders get rehab only, find ways to make DEA efficient. Again I don't know how to do these solutions, but they should be done. Somehow.

That's my weird two cents.
Posted by Contra 3 years ago
The first graph I got from this link ( The results were calculated by experts in a study by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs.

The second graph has multiple sources ( (

And are drugs harmful? Drugs obviously produce some psychological and physiological effects. That is what chemical agents are supposed to do. However, I think that the effects of drugs have been significantly exaggerated. I appreciate you taking the time to go over the debate.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
What's the source of the graph. The other few decades old studies don't convince me.

Btw a sample of 200 VOLUNTEERS is very small for a general population study.
Posted by 16kadams 3 years ago
You think drugs aren't harmful?
Posted by Contra 3 years ago
Thanks for your contribution. And yeah people will still consume these substances regardless if they are illegal or not.
Posted by mariana.carvalho26 3 years ago
I think that yes, drugs should be made legal . let me explain you: I believe that making them legal would contribute to having a control of the drugs marketing in the measure that I think they should be legal but commercialised by the government. I know that the black market will still exist but part of the drugs sells would be , in this way, the consume of drugs would be safer as the drugs would have more quality. that would save a lot of lives there is a fact that drugs are bad for our health but if drugs were legal people would consume them more? the answer is definitely no as I someone wants to consume they will even if it isn't legal. in addition, I believe that should start by educating children not to use drugs (at school and at home) and their parents to recognise if their children are on drugs and to tell them how they can help their children. to sum up I think that the fact that drugs aren't legal doesn't save any lives as they will still exist but we can save lives educating
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Subutai 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.