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Decriminalization of Marijuana

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/11/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,292 times Debate No: 21910
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




To begin, the definition of decriminalization which I am using is "to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of," from Merriam-Webster. Please don't try to use any semantics against me; it wastes time in a debate of this nature.

In this debate, first round is acceptance, second is beginning argument, third is for rebuttals and clarifications, and fourth is simply the final round of rebuttals/clarifications.

Sources are necessary.


I haven't debated this topic in a while. I accept. Hopefully, I can do some cross-examinations in-between.
Debate Round No. 1


Alright. I thank my opponent for accepting my challenge.

To begin, smoking marijuana has been proven through recent studies to be devoid of serious health issues. In fact, it has been proven to reduce the size of brain tumors and other types of cancer. [1] Marijuana joints contain three times the amount of carbon monoxide and tar as a cigarette, but the average marijuana user only smokes a joint a day. The lung disease emphysema has never been linked to marijuana use in any reliable modern study. Studies done in the mid-1900s were extremely inaccurate due to technology restraints.

In the year 2010 alone, over 750,000 people were arrested for simple marijuana possession in the United States. [2] This is a huge cost to American taxpayers across the country. Those people were not arrested for any violent offense; they were arrested merely because they possessed a certain substance. If marijuana was decriminalized, this problem would be greatly avoided.

Finally, the criminalization of marijuana has been overall a complete and total failure. Marijuana usage among teens specifically has increased. [3] Criminalization of marijuana, as well as other drugs, has been shown to not have any significant effect on usage. [4]



I thank my opponent for bringing up such an interesting debate, and I stand on the CON in this circumstance along with an acceptance of my opponent's definition. I will move on to the iteration of my main points.

Contention 1: Marijuana is indeed detrimental to health.
As this following point will prove through the provision of evidence, marijuana is indeed detrimental to the health of the human being.

1a. Marijuana leads to an increased risk of cancer.
A study on cancer in relation to use of marijuana made the following findings in their report: "
Ever-use of mari-juana by nonsmokers of tobacco cigarettes was associated with increased risk in men of prostate cancer (RR = 3.1, CI = 1.0-9.5) and with a nearly significant increased risk in women of cervical cancer (RR = 1.4, CI = 1.0-2.1) rela-tive to nonuse of marijuana and tobacco cigarettes."

1b. Marijuana increases chances of mental illness and worsens existing ones.
WebMD reported the following information: ""New research being conducted here and abroad illustrates that marijuana use, particularly during the teen years, can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, and schizophrenia," said White House Drug Czar John P. Walters. Another study highlighted by officials, published in 2001, suggested that people who were not depressed but used marijuana were four times more likely to develop depression years later than those who never used the drug. Researchers have long observed a connection between drug use and mental illness. Many studies show the simultaneous occurrence of mental illness and substance abuse. People with mental illnesses are also known to use drugs to lessen their symptoms, a phenomenon psychiatrists refer to as "self-medicating." According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), depression, anxiety, and personality disturbances have been associated with marijuana use. However, the NIDA says it is not known whether marijuana use is an attempt to self-medicate an already existing mental health problem, or whether marijuana use leads to mental disorders (or both). "The evidence is collectively indicating that there is a causal connection," says Neil McKeganey, PhD, professor of drug misuse at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

"The United Kingdom Department of Health acknowledged in January, 2004 that cannabis is an “important causal factor” in mental illness. A spokesman for the Department said that “There is medical clinical evidence now that there is an important causal factor between cannabis use and schizophrenia—not the only factor, but an important causal factor. That is the common consensus among the medical fraternity"

1c: Marijuana causes other serious harmful effects to the brain.
PET scans (a brain mapping method which allows scientists to visualize what is happening in the brain) of regular marijuana users show that marijuana may continue to impact the brain three or more days after use, particularly affecting motor coordination, memory and learning. According to two studies, marijuana use narrows the arteries in the brain, “similar to patients with high blood pressure and dementia”11 and may explain why memory tests are difficult for marijuana users. In addition, “chronic consumers of cannabis lose molecules called CB1 receptors in the brain’s arteries,”12 leading to blood flow problems in the brain which can cause memory loss, attention deficits, and impaired learning ability."

Research has now established that marijuana is addictive. Each year, more teens enter treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined. Over sixty percent of teens admitted to drug treatment cite marijuana as their primary substance of abuse."

Contention 2: Decriminalization is negative for society.
The following quotes are important to point out from Dr. Robert L. DuPont, the former direction of the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

Contrary to the beliefs of those who advocate the legalization of marijuana, the current balanced, restrictive, and bipartisan drug policies of the United States are working reasonably well and they have contributed to reductions in the rate of marijuana use in our nation.
The rate of current, past 30-day use of marijuana by Americans aged 12 and older in 1979 was 13.2 percent. In 2008 that figure stood at 6.1 percent. This 54-percent reduction in marijuana use over that 29-year period is a major public health triumph, not a failure...Reducing marijuana use is essential to improving the nation’s health, education, and productivity. New policies can greatly improve current performance of prevention strategies which, far from failing, has protected millions of people from the many adverse effects of marijuana use."

The United States Department of Justice reports on their own ventures in legalizing marijuana: "
The consequences of legalization became evident when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that the state could not interfere with an adult’s possession of marijuana for personal consumption in the home. The court’s ruling became a green light for marijuana use. Although the ruling was limited to persons 19 and over, teens were among those increasingly using marijuana. According to a 1988 University of Alaska study, the state’s 12 to 17-year-olds used marijuana at more than twice the national average for their age group. Alaska’s residents voted in 1990 to recriminalize possession of marijuana, demonstrating their belief that increased use was too high a price to pay."

White House Drug Czar Launches Campaign to Stop Drugged Driving.” Office of National Drug Control Policy Press Release, November 2002.

(There may be more)
Debate Round No. 2


Rebuttal: It is proven that marijuana is not severely detrimental to health

My opponent presents a source from WebMD. I would like to present a source from the exact same site, but the article states that there is in fact no connection between marijuana use and cancer. [1] Actually, I have a second source which hypothesizes that the cancer-killing chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana would eradicate any aged or cancerous cells immediately. [2]

As to the claim that marijuana use increases the chance of mental illness, this has not been proven. There are many people with disorders such as depression and anxiety who use marijuana to alleviate the symptoms. A similar drug which uses a chemical almost identical to that in marijuana is being considered as a treatment for depression. [3] However, it is true that overuse of marijuana can exacerbate schizophrenia in some people. There is not a link between the plant itself and mental illness beyond this though.

Marijuana's effects on the brain are very temporary and only occur during the "high." After it has passed, the user returns to their normal mental state. [4] There has been no legitimate link between long-term memory loss and marijuana usage.

To address the issue of addiction, the statistics which were shown are misleading. Out of all of the people who are admitted to drug rehabilitation, only 16% of them are there for marijuana addiction. [5] Marijuana almost never causes a physical addiction, but instead can potentially create a psychological addiction. This is far less concerning and causes no withdrawal symptoms.

Voters should note that my opponent did not recognize my statement about te number of people in prison for marijuana possession.

Although my opponent does use a quote to assist his case, I have already established the fact that marijuana is not highly harmful to health and that it can in fact be beneficial. The only possibility left is that he is referring to the "adverse effects" which are societal and which have not been addressed. As I have said before, marijuana use among teens is rising and approximately 56% of Americans have tried it before their 20s. [5]

I do thank my opponent for not bringing up the age-old concept of the "gateway drug" which has been repeatedly proven to be false.

Unfortuntely my response was limited by the amount of time I had and is not as sufficient as I would like. Having said that, I will strive to bring the strongest argument yet in the next round.

Thank you.



Cancer argument: For starters, there's a reason as to why my opponent's evidence says the exact opposite as to what my evidence is saying: the studies are looking at two different kinds of cancer. While my evidence is looking toward the incidence of prostate and cervical cancer in asssociation with marijuana use, my opponent's study from WebMD is only focusing on cancer in the brain, neck, and lungs, meaning that my opponent is using a blanket statement that marijuana will not cause cancer at all whatsoever. The same goes for his second source, which focuses on the similar kinds of cancer. In fact, I believe that I read in another study about how marijuana use is also associated with kidney cancer and other sorts of cancers as well. I'll try to find it and place it into the next rebuttal(s).
Mental Health Issues: Let it be clear that my opponent stated himself that marijuana can exacerabte schizophrenia, for one thing, and this argument against my case contrasts against his cancer one in the idea that he provides absolutely no evidence for what he's saying, especially when he saying that no link has been proven, but I have provided evidence within my case saying just the opposite. The only thing that he provides is evidence from his point 3 talking about how a chemical almost identical to marijuana is being considered for treatment in depression, even though (1) Depression is not the only mental illness out there and (2) It's using a chemical similar in chemical structure, but it's not directly using marijuana, meaning that his case study regarding this research irrelevant because we have no warrants that this chemical has even the same physical and chemical properties, let alone similar effects, as the chemical for marijuana. When you put sodium (a metal) and chlorine (a toxic gas) together, you create sodium chloride (table salt), which has the exact same elements, but very different properties. How does my opponent prove this isn't the case with the chemical similar to the structure of marijuana? He doesn't.
Effects to the Brain: My opponent only addresses the issues of long-term memory, although I was speaking in the context of memory in general and I also talked about learning impairments and attention defecits as well, so it's evident that my opponent under-addressed this case.
Addiction: I'm quite aware that the addiction that marijuana causes is psychologically addictive, and at the point where I have clearly given evidence as to the negative effects of marijuana in addition to the idea that marijuana can at some level influence people to enter into rehabilitation, the aspect of marijuana being addictive at all doesn't substantiate my opponent's case at all.
Contention 2: Furthermore, I would like to point out that my opponent did not address my second contention in any way, shape, or form, so it can be extended across the flow.

When we move on to my opponent's case, we realize that there isn't anything that his case addresses that I have not.

Increases in marijuana usage: We look at my opponent's evidence, and the first thing we notice is the small time span the study was taken as well as the insignificant increases in marijuana use. We see increases from 3.6 to 4.0 or increases from 25.5 to 26. This is not significant enough increase to state beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the increases were due to a failure of any sort. This runs in contrast to the study I provided in my case which makes an analysis on a 20-year basis and shows the rate of marijuana users significantly decreasing. In fact, I'll run a chi-square inference test (the statistical test to show the significance of changes in data) in order to see if we accept a null hypothesis or the idea that my opponent is promoting. I'll post the data in the next rebuttal.
Prisoners: Many people are arrested for cocaine, meth, heroin, murder, rape, and other things, which also hurt the taxpayers. Should we legalize those as well? Well, for one thing, I provided the study in my case talking about increases in marijuana use also hurt the taxpayers considering the things that they had to pay for as a result, and even if this hurts taxpayers, this means only that we have to decrease these problems, not that the solution should be to legalize marijuana. I explained in my case how the war on drugs can be better handled. The solution is to decrease the amount of people in our population smoking and selling marijuana, and it's clear that legalization will not lead to that path in any way, shape, or form.
Debate Round No. 3


First, I apologize for my relatively inadequate argument in the last round. As I already explained, I had an extremely limited amount of time.

Cancer Claim

I will address cervical cancer and prostate cancer separately. It has been proven in studies that medical marijuana (which is the quality that would be used if it were decriminalized) slows the number of malignant cells in the case of cervical cancer. [1] It is also efficient in relieving the pain caused by this cancer. [2] Although more research would be necessary as it is very difficult to conduct a study involving an illegal substance, it is believed that even very low doses of cannabinoids (which are found in marijuana) and THC can slow down the progression of cervical cancer and other types of cancer. [3]

As for prostate cancer, the case is almost exactly the same as with its cervical counterpart. Research from the British Journal of Cancer have shown a correlation between cannabinoids and reduced prostate cancer growth. [4] Other chemicals in marijuana, particularly THC, have also been shown to reduce prostate cancer growth. [5]

Mental Health Issues

After my opponent's jump on my statement about the exacerbation of schizophrenia, I would like to point out that my exact words were "overuse of marijuana can exacerbate schizophrenia in some people [emphasis added]." It is actually unknown whether marijuana simply enhances the problems or whether it causes them to surface. There is no more proof of either claim than the other. [6] Since neither side has more compelling evidence than the other (although they both have their own respective data), the issue is quite moot for this argument.

My opponent's analogy between the reaction of NaCl and the chemical which is similar to cannabinoids is absurd. The chemical structures of Na, Cl, and NaCl are vastly different. This is mainly because the formula looks like this: 2Na + Cl2 à 2NaCl. The structures are completely different. I have found a site that explains the role that marijuana plays in treating stress-related mental disorders (which most of them are), including anxiety and stress. [7]

Effects to the Brain

There have been multiple studies done which have shown that high doses of cannabinoids can stimulate brain cell growth in rats, which are often used as substitutes for humans in studies. [8] This would suggest that impairments would not be caused due to rapid regrowth.

As for memory, the loss does exist but only for short-term. If you are high at the time of being told something, you will not remember it later. This is thought to be independent of neuron effects and researchers believe that it could be fixed if necessary. [9]

The results on learning impairment is mixed. [10] While some people are unaffected by marijuana use, others do develop slight learning impairments. The results are thus inconclusive at best.

ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has been proven in studies to be alleviated by the use of marijuana. [11] Patients with the disorder who are exposed to the chemicals in cannabis often show positive results in respect to the disorder and its effects.


Your argument about the addictiveness of marijuana is reliant on the negative effects of the substance. Therefore, if my rebuttals for this round are to be considered adequate, then your argument is insignificant considering that marijuana would not cause any serious health effects anyway.

"Contention 2"

My opponent never actually presented a reason that marijuana is detrimental to society. All he did was supply quotes which restated his beliefs. Your conclusion that it is negative to society is based completely on the assertion that marijuana use itself is bad. So basically the logic is, "Since marijuana use went up, its effects on society are negative." I see nothing to be addressed here since the conclusion does not follow from the premise.

Rebuttal to my Usage Argument

This argument was made not as a primary part of my reasoning or evidence, but instead as simply a sidenote that the War on Marijuana is foundering.


My opponent's opening line for his rebuttal is irrelevant to the point I made. The people who are in jail for simple marijuana possession have committed no violent crime. They have not physically hurt anyone else through their actions. They are pointlessly in jail for something that did not hurt anyone and their time in prison will stay with them for the rest of their lives in the form of a criminal record. This is completely ridiculous. Also, my opponent claims that he gave data about the cost to taxpayers but I could find no such data. All the data I found was the cost of keeping those people in jail. In 1999 alone, the cost was $1.2 billion for only 60,000 prisoners. [12]

Considering that we have not tried a full-scale DECRIMINALIZATION (not legalization) of marijuana nationwide, the claim that decriminalization would not lead to a decrease in the use of marijuana is unfounded. In Portugal, the decriminalization of marijuana has lead to a decrease in marijuana use. [13] It is a good example to follow.

Finally, I would like to thank my opponent for this enjoyable and stimulating debate, as well as the readers for having interest in the topic. Remember to vote PRO.



ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by hebi 6 years ago
I'm with you, THEBOMB. I'm totally against decriminalization, but all for legalization.
Posted by crossfade102495 6 years ago
Sorry, LvsK, I couldn't get on to comment quick enough. Maybe some other time?
Posted by Layne-vs-Kagan 6 years ago
I'll do it so long as you defend that the bill goes through normal means ^^
Posted by THEBOMB 6 years ago
I'll definitely follow this when it start.

I'd like to see who can argue against the decriminalization of marijuana...legalization's a whole other story.
Posted by Anayansi 6 years ago
Interesting, I am pro.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF