The Instigator
Con (against)
2 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
5 Points

Decriminalizing recreational marijuana.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/22/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 883 times Debate No: 46510
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




The first round is only for acceptance or stating your position. I claim the following: Decriminalizing recreational marijuana is wrong.


I thank Con for instigating what I hope would be an enlightening debate. In this debate, I am arguing that 'Recreational marijuana should be decriminalized,' or 'Decriminalizing recreational marijuana is right.' Con, on the other hand is arguing that 'Decriminizing recreational marijuana is wrong' or 'Recreational marijuana should not be decriminalized.'

As the rules explicitly state that the first round is only for acceptance or stating your position, I shall wait until the next round before giving definitions.
Debate Round No. 1


I am going to bold important words/phrases in my arguments. Let's get started:

I am going to make my first argument in this round:

I realize that the United States is a country that supports freedom of choice. I acknowledge the fact that everyone should be able of choosing their own path. However, I will not allow my country to decriminalize recreational marijuana, which is hurting our children and is damaging our security.

"The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. That's short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

THC is rapidly absorbed after smoking pot. Within minutes, THC and the other substances in marijuana smoke cause short-term medical effects.

Signs of using marijuana include:

Rapid heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Increased rate of breathing
Red eyes
Dry mouth
Increased appetite, or "the munchies"
Slowed reaction time
These effects are reduced after three or four hours. However, marijuana hangs around in your system for as long as a month after smoking. The lingering effects mean you're impaired for several days to weeks after the high wears off.

Psychological Effects of Marijuana

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the main effects of marijuana on mood vary and may include euphoria, calmness, anxiety, or paranoia. Getting high or "stoned" is the reason most pot smokers use marijuana.

Other short-term psychological effects of pot include:

Distorted sense of time
Magical or "random" thinking
Short-term memory loss
Anxiety and depression
These psychological signs of using pot also generally ease after a few hours. But residual effects can last for days.

Risks of Marijuana Use

The risks of smoking marijuana go up with heavy use. Although the link has never been proven, many experts believe heavy pot smokers are at increased risk for lung cancer.

Heavy marijuana use lowers men's testosterone levels and sperm count and quality. Pot could decrease libido and fertility in some heavy-smoking men.

Contrary to what many pot smokers may tell you, marijuana is addictive, at least psychologically. Even among occasional users, one in 12 can feel withdrawal symptoms if they can't get high when they want to. Among heavy pot smokers, the rates of dependence are higher.

Many experts also believe that marijuana is physically addictive. Symptoms of withdrawal from pot might include:

Depressed mood
Decreased appetite
Is pot a "gateway" drug? In other words, does smoking marijuana make someone more likely to try cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and other "hard" drugs? The jury is still out on this one. It's true that pot smokers are more likely to use other drugs after trying marijuana. What's not clear is whether smoking pot causes further drug use or if people who start smoking pot are just more likely to try drugs in general.

If you're wondering how long marijuana stays in your system after smoking, it depends on how often you smoke. Light users -- those who smoke pot once in a while -- will have a negative drug screen after a marijuana-free week. Heavy users -- sometimes called "stoners" -- may continue testing positive for a month after last smoking pot." [1]

According to this article, marijuana has many health issues. Would you support decriminalizing a deadly drug for RECREATIONAL PURPOSES? I understand decriminalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but I cannot understand why you would legalize marijuana, which could lead to the illness and death of millions of children and adults. The adults can make their own choice, but children cannot. Children are suffering because of marijuana. Will you allow this to occur? My friend, I must say, I will not let this pass.




I thank Con for posting an intriguing argument against the decriminalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. Before I make my arguments, however, I am going to define a few terms. I will use Oxford Online Dictionaries.

Decriminalize: cease to treat (something) as illegal or as a criminal offence [1]

Marijuana: cannabis, especially as smoked in cigarettes [2]

Cannabis: a dried preparation of the flowering tops or other parts of the cannabis plant, or a resinous extract of it, used (generally illegally) as a psychotropic drug, chiefly in cigarettes. [3]

Now, let’s start.

There are multiple reasons why marijuana, for recreational purposes, should be decriminalized.

My first argument, ironically, is supported by my opponent’s only argument in the last round; that consumption of marijuana, for recreational purposes, is detrimental to the consumer’s health. I argue that a result of decriminalizing marijuana, coupled with emphasizing the possibility of therapy for drug takers (instead of them being sent to jail), would lead to either less people consuming the drug, or no difference in the amount of people consuming the drug.

This was similar the policy that Portugal implemented several years ago. The neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz, in an article written for Time Magazine writes: “Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.” [4]

Peter Reuter, of the University of Maryland says: “Drug decriminalization did reach its primary goal in Portugal, and it did not lead to Lisbon being a drug tourist destination. [5]

The lawyer Glenn Greenwald adds: “Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.” [6]

Another country that has decriminalized marijuana is the Netherlands. Even though it’s marijuana/drug policy is not as successful as Portugal’s, it is still quite successful, as the Netherlands Ministry of Health Explains: “"It has been demonstrated that the more or less free sale of [marijuana] for personal use in the Netherlands has not given rise to levels of use significantly higher than in countries which pursue a highly repressive policy." [7]

A report written by Donnelly also suggests that marijuana liberalization does not increase intake of the drug. They write: “There is no evidence to date that the CEN [decriminalization] system ... Has increased levels of regular cannabis use, or rates of experimentation among young adults. These results are broadly in accord with our earlier analysis of trends in cannabis use in Australia. ...They are also consistent with the results of similar analyses in the United States and the Netherlands." [8]

Decriminalizing marijuana would also ensure that money is not wasted on the legal and criminal systems. According to a study by King and Mauer, the United States currently spends a significant amount of money (4 billion dollars) dedicated to minor offenses, such as possession, and $2.1 billion on the police enforcing marijuana laws. [9] Jeffrey Miron, an economist at Harvard, makes a similar point. In his paper “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Legalization in Massachusetts” he writes that prohibition of marijuana in Massachusetts results in: “120.6 million per year in government expenditure on criminal justice enforcement.” [10] Furthermore, a study by Scott Bates finds that in Alaska, $25-30 million dollars were used for enforcing marijuana prohibition laws alone! [11] James D. Austin, commenting on the study writes: “a net swing of $35 - $50 million per year would appear in the state’s coffers if marijuana were decriminalized” [12]

As we have seen above, decriminalizing marijuana does not increase its usage, so surely, the money used for enforcement of laws, and throughout the criminal justice system is a waste of money; money that can be used for other, more pressing purposes, such as education, health, and social programmes.




[4], [6]


[7], [8]





Debate Round No. 2


Economic effects of legalizing recreational marijuana

According to sources, the decriminalization of medial marijuana has negative economic effects. "Legalizing marijuana can make or break an economy, as witnessed by Amsterdam, an area that legalizes many drugs and allows tourists to enjoy these types of drugs in certain locations. With tourists flooding into Amsterdam strictly to enjoy the high grade of marijuana products in the area, it becomes readily apparent that there is all manner of money to be spent on the average popular mind altering substance." [1]

I recognize that this piece of evidence supports your argument, but it supports mine as well. I will now list another piece of evidence:

"A ballot measure to legalize marijuana in California would so upend supply and demand that pot prices could plummet by as much as 90 percent and possibly undercut the tax windfall that supporters have touted to sell the initiative, a study published Wednesday found.

The study by the nonpartisan RAND Drug Policy Research Center forecasts some interesting scenarios if California in November becomes the second state, after Alaska, to legalize pot for recreational use by adults and the first to tax commercial cannabis sales.

Pot prices could drop from $375 an ounce under the state's current medical marijuana law to as little as $38 per ounce before taxes as legal pot suddenly becomes available to the public, RAND researchers concluded." [2]

I have already spoken about the health aspect of marijuana. Now, given this new information, I do not believe anyone can support the decriminalization of recreational marijuana. It can deeply wound our economy as well as causing health issues for uncountable people.



Critical Notice of My Opponent’s Arguments

My opponent’s entire 3rd round argument was based on the claim that legalizing economic marijuana is bad for the economy. However, the resolution of the debate was that: “Decriminalizing recreational marijuana is wrong.” The fact that he was arguing that legalizing marijuana was bad when the topic was about decriminalizing marijuana makes his entire 3rd round erroneous.

Nonetheless, I shall make some notes about my opponent’s arguments.

He claims decriminalizing (or was it legalizing?) recreational marijuana has shown to be detrimental to the economy of Amsterdam. His only justification for this was based on a quote from Yahoo. He has not shown how such evidence supports his position. I certainly don’t see how this supports his argument at all!

He also claims that legalizing (or was it decriminalizing?) marijuana would cause its price to drop considerably. He cites an article from the website ‘Daily Paul’ to support this. Ironically however, it would appear that the original article supports my position! At the end of the article, the author, ‘OFallonBrent’ writes: “Let's keep the prices high to send more money to criminal organizations, destabilize our borders, and put financial burdens on both sick and healthy users. [new paragraph] Yeah! That’s the ticket!” Surely, this doesn’t support my opponent’s argument! The only justification for this is the fact that ‘marijuana is bad for health.’ [1] I have already shown that decriminalizing marijuana does not increase its usage. My opponent ignores this. I address the claim that ‘marijuana is bad for health ergo recreational marijuana should not be decriminalized’ argument next in the next round, after my opponent has had a change to clarify himself


Debate Round No. 3


The global economy is going rather well. Therefore, I do not think it needs that additional boost by having recreational marijuana decriminalized/legalized. Now, given the health arguments I have made previously, what is an additional argument you can make about your support of the decriminalization of recreational marijuana?


In the Second Round, I provided two strong reasons why marijuana should be decriminalized for recreational purposes; one of which directly refutes my opponent’s only argument in his first round. My opponent has not provided a reasonable response to either of them. In the previous round, he attempts to critique my second argument. He claims that because ‘the global economy is going rather well,there is no need to decriminalize marijuana to ensure that not so much money is wasted on criminal and legal systems, especially for minor offenses. Such a response completely misses the point for, it is completely irrelevant whether the global economy is going well or not. I am arguing that the United States of America is wasting an inane amount of money on criminal and legal systems, dedicated to minor offenses, and that decriminalizing marijuana would ensure such money can be better spent, on more pressing issues. My opponent has not even responded to my argument that decriminalizing marijuana does not increase its usage, and in some instances, lead to a decrease.

In this round, I argue that the prohibition of marijuana would be irrational, given that its effects overall would be less harmful, as compared to tobacco smoking, or drinking alcohol.

The assertion that marijuana is less harmful than tobacco has been demonstrated in several ways. I list just 2. First, a study lead by Mark J. Pletcher of University of California, San Francisco, published in the Journal of American Medical Association shows that marijuana is less damaging to the lungs than tobacco. [1] According to Pletcher: “We found exactly what we thought we would find in relation to tobacco exposure: a consistent loss of lung function with increasing exposure. We were, however, surprised to found such a different pattern of association with marijuana exposure.” [2] Leland Kim, also of the University of California, San Francisco confirms this: “low to moderate use of marijuana is less harmful to the users’ lungs than exposure to tobacco.”[3]

Secondly, marijuana is less addictive than tobacco. Only 9% of marijuana consumers develop a serious addiction. Conversely, 32% of tobacco users develop a serious addiction, more than 3 times than marijuana consumers! As the psychologist Jann Gumbiner writes: “….is marijuana addictive? For most people, no. About 10% of recreational users will develop problems serve enough to impair their work and relationships.” [4]

Marijuana is also less harmful than alcohol, both short-term and long-term.

On a short term basis, there is no doubt that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. According to Ruben Baler, of the National Institute of Drug Abuse: “You can die binge drinking five minutes after you have been exposed to alcohol. This isn’t going to happen with marijuana.” [5]

On a long term basis, there is even less doubt that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. First, alcohol is more detrimental to liver health than marijuana. Consumption of marijuana has little effect on the liver. Contrary to this, consumption of alcohol has a massive effect on the liver. According to the American Liver Foundation, consumption of alcohol over time can cause three major diseases: fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis. [6] Alcoholic hepatitis is can be an extremely serious disease, for it can lead to “serious complications including liver failure and death.” Alcoholic cirrhosis is even more serious, for it “cannot be reversed and can cause liver failure.” [7]

Alcohol is also more detrimental when it comes to kidneys. Although marijuana has little on the kidney , alcohol can cause kidney failure through raising blood pressure. Murray Epstein, in his paper ‘Alcohol’s Impact on Kidney Function’ writes in his conclusion: “…alcohol consumption can have profound negative effects on the kidney and their function in maintain the body’s fluid, electrolyte and acid-base balance, leaving alcoholic people vulnerable to a host of kidney-related health problems.” [8]

Furthermore, alcohol is linked to a wide variety of cancers. As a matter of fact, 3.5% of cancer deaths can be linked to the consumption of alcohol. However, there is virtually link between marijuana and cancer! notes this: “Alcohol use is associated with a wide variety of cancers, including cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, colon, lungs, pancreas, liver and prostate. Marijuana use has not been conclusively associated with any form of cancer. In fact, one study recently contradicted the long-time government claim that marijuana use is associated with head and neck cancers. If found that marijuana use actually reduced the likelihood of head and neck cancer.” [9] It has been asserted, however, that marijuana is associated with lung cancer. However, this has now shown to be erroneous. The journalist Joseph Brownstein demonstrates this: “… while early studies showed some evidence linking marijuana to lung cancer, subsequent studies have debunked that associating. Baler [researcher] it’s unclear why marijuana smoke does not have the same result as tobacco smoke on the lungs, but [perhaps] some beneficial compounds in the marijuana smoke cancel out the ill effects.” [10]

This, perhaps is the most telling graph, which summarises the case I have argued above:

[11]Comparing various drugs.

In conclusion, I have demonstrated that marijuana is less harmful than both tobacco and alcohol. However, how is it fair that marijuana but illegal in almost every American State, as compared to tobacco and alcohol, which are only regulated? Surely, now there is no rational basis for the oppressive prohibition, and complete banning of marijuana for recreational purposes.


[2], [3]



[6], [7]




[11] You bother reading the references? Source in graph :)

Debate Round No. 4


I have lost the debate. Voters, vote for Pro.


I thank my opponent for his gracious concession. Therefore, I fully urge voters of this debate to award him the 'Conduct' points. This was an interesting debate, and I thank Con for instigating it.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by ColeTrain 6 months ago
Wow. Startling change.
Posted by WilliamsP 6 months ago
I have since come out 100% in favour of the legalization of all drugs.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Complicated_Mind 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: It seems I'm a bit late on voting in this debate, but oh well; better now than never. CONDUCT: This goes to Con for an honorable concession. S&G: I was easily able to read both debater's arguments, so that is a draw; ARGUMENTS: Con conceded, so arguments automatically go to Pro; SOURCES: I want to vote for Pro since he used .gov sites, but I also want to vote for Con for jamccartney's idiotic vote on sources giving them to Pro only because he used more. So I will simply leave those points as a tie.
Vote Placed by jamccartney 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: Because Pro has stated for all voters to give Con points for conduct, I have done so. They tied on spelling and grammar. For convincing arguments, they both did a great job. They tied on that. Finally, for sources, Pro receives it because he used more sources than Con.