The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Cannabis should be legalised.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/25/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 979 times Debate No: 35060
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I believe cannabis should be legalised, as no rational argument can be made that would justify its illegality, while rational arguments may be made that justify its legality.


In general, it is said that cannabis helps as a medical treatment. It is obvious though, that most countries don't agree with this kind of medical format. Thus, it is only natural to focus on the legitimate use of cannabis as a citizen. It is obviously wrong to allow cannabis to be legalized because minors will abuse this newly founded law and negative side effects are unavoidable. In California, cannabis is already legal, and it is already a rising issue with students arriving at school under the influence. Teachers have been complaining that this is causing students to lose focus and their grades are dropping dramatically. This is then, no doubt, a factor towards a lower IQ. As many people believe, education is the success to life. If students have access to marijuana, then they are clearly going to go dumb and slowly our next generation of workers will be too slow to accomplish anything...
Debate Round No. 1


You have brought up the medical issue, and so I will debate that, although I would support legalisation of cannabis even if it did not have medical properties.

I apologise for perhaps sounding arrogant here, but it is indisputable that cannabis has many powerful medicinal uses. A 2002 review of medical literature by Franjo Grotenhermen states that medical cannabis has established effects in the treatment of nausea, vomiting, premenstrual syndrome, unintentional weight loss, insomnia, and lack of appetite. Other "relatively well-confirmed" effects were in the treatment of "spasticity, painful conditions, especially neurogenic pain, movement disorders, asthma, [and] glaucoma".[1]

Having proven that cannabis does indeed have significant medical application, I must now address your demand to 'think of the children'. Firstly, cannabis is not legal in California, it has been decriminalised - cannabis is legal in Colorado and Washington. Secondly, you have cited 'anecdotal evidence', which is not really evidence at all. Can I see a source documenting this decrease in IQ? Studies have shown that more than 70% of American teenagers think that it is easy to obtain cannabis, while about 40% of Dutch teenagers think that it is easy to obtain cannabis. [2] As you may know, cannabis is sold in special outlets called 'coffeeshops' in the Netherlands - cannabis is 'tolerated' there and may be sold in a quasi-legal way. I think these figures show that making cannabis legal in America would not have an effect on teenage use of cannabis, because cannabis is already available to more students than actually use it, as cannabis use is definitely lower than 70% in America. Furthermore, legalising cannabis would take dealers off the streets - they would not be able to compete with licensed dispensaries. Drug dealers don't check the age of their customers, but dispensaries certainly would. Of course, older people would still buy cannabis for young people (e.g. older brothers buying for younger), but as I have argued, it is already highly available to anyone who wants to use it. To develop the point further, students who would come to school intoxicated are likely the kind of students who would not learn much in any case.

I would also like to point you to a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which concluded that "marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence".[3]

So, if cannabis does have medicinal use, and its legality does not appear to lead to a decrease in IQ, what other reasons do you have for prohibiting it?

My argument in favour of legalising it is as follows: I believe J.S. Mill was correct when he stated in his essay "On Liberty" that "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign". The use of cannabis does not cause direct harm to others, and so it should be permitted as a matter of individual freedom. You may wish to claim that cannabis 'destroys lives' and therefore 'causes misery for that individual's family', but this is nonsensical. Cannabis is not physically addictive, and is therefore only addictive in the same sense that collecting stamps and eating chalk can be, so I doubt that it has the capability to 'ruin lives' in itself, and furthermore, harm cannot be measured in this way. If the son of a grotesquely homophobic father comes out as gay, leading his father to extreme rage and depression, it cannot be said that the son has done something morally wrong. Likewise, if someone decides to spend their life working in menial positions and smoking cannabis every day, the chagrin of the parents is irrelevant to whether that behaviour should be permissible.

What can 'ruin lives' in a far more damaging way is that people are prosecuted for the cannabis-related crimes. These should not be crimes, for the reason I have argued above, and yet having a criminal record causes severe and lasting damage to someone's life, preventing people from being employed and causing disastrous damage to someone's mental state. Edward Thornber, a promising young man, committed suicide after being summoned to court over "0.50 worth of cannabis found in his possession. [4] Admittedly, the article does say that he was prosecuted with erroneous severity, but the matter should not have been anything more than the confiscation of the cannabis and a notification to his parents.

It is also incredibly important to note the fiscal benefits of legalising cannabis. The government spends a great amount of money prosecuting cannabis users and dealers, instead, they could be increasing their revenue by selling the cannabis responsibly. This would kill two birds with one stone, as criminal gangs rely heavily on drug money to justify their existence - removing cannabis from their income would deal a great blow to them, as cannabis is one of the most popular recreational drugs.

Finally, the THC:CBD (two substances found in cannabis, and believed to be responsible for most of the effects) ratio is very important, and could be controlled were cannabis a regulated plant. Doses of pure THC can cause transient (i.e. temporary) symptoms of psychosis in people, yet CBD eliminates this effect as it is an anti-psychotic. Some forms of cannabis have very little CBD, and this may be causing unnecessary harm. If the government regulated cannabis so that the THC:CBD ratio was labelled on the cannabis, cannabis would be even more safe to use, as I believe the vast majority of users would choose cannabis which had protective levels of CBD, because not only is it 'healthier', but it is also more pleasurable to most users. [5]

[1] Grotenhermen, Franjo (2002). "Review of Therapeutic Effects". Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutic Potential. New York City: Haworth Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-7890-1508-2.
[3] Fried, P.; Watkinson, B.; James, D.; Gray, R. (2002). "Current and former marijuana use: Preliminary findings of a longitudinal study of effects on IQ in young adults". CMAJ : Canadian Medical


drfroes forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


"The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world."

Carl Sagan. [1]



drfroes forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Wocambs 4 years ago
How embarrassing for me: my opponent is apathetic.
Posted by Wocambs 4 years ago
I forgot to add that I would like you to make the case in favour of its continued prohibition in your first round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Juris_Naturalis 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to Pro because Con forfeited, S/G was about the same, although Pro's arguments flowed more and Con was a bit choppy in delivery. Con used no sources, so one has to assume that his statement is opinion until proved otherwise.