The Instigator
cloppbeast
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
Teafood
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points

Drug Prohibition in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/22/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,678 times Debate No: 4150
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (40)
Votes (3)

 

cloppbeast

Con

The so called ‘War on Drugs' is both irrational and immoral. The United States continual dedication to it wastes over $40 billion a year while ruining lives in the process.

The sole purpose of the United States government is a form of collectivism that is supposed to protect the rights of each individual: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The implementation of the ‘War on Drugs' blatantly disregards all three, but especially one's pursuit of happiness. By prohibiting an individual from using a substance, a government is preventing that person's pursuit of happiness. Whether or not the substance will make the individual happier is irrelevant. It is not the proper function of a United States government to decide what makes an individual happy, instead only to protect an individual's pursuit of what makes him happy. Essentially, in establishing drug prohibition, the government assumes responsibility and determination of each individual's pursuit of happiness.

One of the reasons, proponents argue, that drug prohibition was established, or at least still remains, is to protect children. Children are too innocent and immature to understand the consequences of drugs; therefore drugs need to be prohibited to prevent children's access to them. The fallacy of this logic is that it is nearly impossible, especially if drugs are illegal, to completely keep drugs away from children. With a current budget of $20 billion per year, the DEA estimates that it only confiscates 5%-10% of illegal drugs entering the country. Unless there is a substantial DEA budget increase, there will always be a black market for drugs in the United States. In a black market, a government has absolutely no regulation over the marketing strategy or distribution of a product. Drug dealers can market and distribute drugs wherever, whenever, and to whomever they want. Children, because they are too innocent and immature to understand the consequences, are the easiest consumers for drug dealers to target, especially in poor urban neighborhoods.

A better way to keep drugs away from children is regulation rather than prohibition. For example, since cigarette companies were prohibited from selling and advertising to children, cigarette use has decreased dramatically. Children were educated about the dangers of smoking, and cigarettes became harder for children to obtain, thus reducing the number of children smoking. A national pole taken from middle and high school students indicated that it is easier to obtain marijuana than alcohol or cigarettes. Drug prohibition does not protect children; it actually promotes situations for drug dealers and criminals to take advantage of them.

It is argued that since drugs have such negative effects, drug prohibition is necessary to prevent their use. The negative effects of drugs are well known to everyone. Certain drugs can cause heart failure, brain damage, even death, among other things. If this isn't enough to prevent a person from using drugs, why would the possibility of a jail sentence be a deterrent? Obviously, if the drug itself won't prevent an individual from using a drug neither will the threat of a prison sentance. According to an ONDCP survey in 2001, 20% of 18-25 year olds had smoked pot, while only 1.2% had used cocaine. The illicit status of cocaine and marijuana were nearly the same throughout the country in 2001, so what accounted for the discrepancy? The effects of marijuana are much less severe that those of cocaine, explaining why marijuana is more widely used than cocaine. This indicates that drug laws are less of a deterrent than a specific drug's effect.

Some argue that the negative effects of certain drugs include increased risk of criminal behavior. Cocaine, heroine, and marijuana supposedly create a sense of disillusion and distort reality in such a way that creates lapses in judgment of the user. Assuming that certain drugs do cause criminal behavior, although many including myself are skeptical, prohibition causes even worse criminal behavior. The black market is a completely free market with no regulation, contract enforcement, or property laws. Essentially, in the absence of any law enforcement, anarchy is formed. Property laws, regulation and contracts must be enforced by each individual. This underground market creates astronomical amounts of crime that is many times worse than that which would occur from the result of the drug itself. Alcohol prohibition is a good example of this. Many can respect the effort of the Temperance Movement to lower alcohol use, which can coincidentally be compared to the modern day ‘War on Drugs.' Alcohol is addictive,can create social and family problems, and can increase criminal behavior by causing disillusion in the user. But the experiment of alcohol prohibition proved beyond a reasonable doubt that, even though Americans consumed less alcohol, crime was rampant throughout the country. The overall effects of alcohol consumption was insignificant compared to social problems caused by crime during prohibition, which is why the 21st amendment negated alcohol prohibition entirely. Drug prohibition may not have the extreme effects of alcohol prohibition, but the effects are significant nonetheless, especially in poor urban neighborhoods with economical problems.

Furthermore, there is no congressional authority for the United States government to regulate, much less prohibit, any substance, via the tenth amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution….. are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." This is why the 18th amendment was necessary to prohibit alcohol. If an amendment was necessary to prohibit alcohol production and usage why isn't one necessary to prohibit drug usage?

In summary, drug prohibition is an utter failure and unconstitutional, and should be revoked immediately. The targeting of children and destruction of poor neighborhoods by the illegal drug market, the cost in billions of dollars to taxpayers, and the lives ruined from prison terms for non-violent crimes more than overwhelms the slight possibility of higher drug usage in America.
Teafood

Pro

I actually dislike the drug war and would like to see it gone, but I think I can make a debate from the other side.

[quote]
"The so called ‘War on Drugs' is both irrational and immoral. The United States continual dedication to it wastes over $40 billion a year while ruining lives in the process."
[/quote]
First I will make my points, then I'll see if I can refute yours.

1) The ‘War on Drugs,' is not immoral in totality.
Taking this definition of immoral into account,
"not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics."
http://dictionary.reference.com...

As a society and socially the standard established principle is that drug use is bad, and should therefore be fought, by making it illegal and punishing those distributing it or consuming it. Therefore socially it is not immoral to have the ‘Drug war'.

Many people have seen first hand the extreme detrimental effects certain drugs can have not only on the consumer but those close to the consumer. Some of these people believe the ‘Drug war,' and punishing drugs is protecting people. They might believe that to not support the ‘Drug war' would cause people to suffer. To them it would be immoral to allow others to suffer. They've established a moral that you should try to not help people and do things to prevent suffering.

Side note: If that definition of ‘immoral' is not suitable for you then please post a different one.

2) The definition of ‘irrational' is, "without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason."
The definition of ‘reason' is, "a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event."
Using these two definitions I would say that the drug war is not ‘irrational,' because the drug war has a purpose and people have reasons to support it.
For example person A supports the drug war because someone she knew abused a drug and that caused unknowing negative consequences and suffering for both the persona busing and the people the person abusing the drug should have been taking care of (for example his children). Her reason to support the drug war is that she does not want children to become victims of negative side effects due to drug use.
You may think the reason is a bad one, or that she is being oppressive, or that she is generalizing, but it is still a reason and it is still justifiable to her.

Side note: for the definitions same goes, if you don't like them say so.

3) I think I'll allow you to define what you mean by ‘waste'.

Yes the government denying people the ability to use certain chemicals could be seen as depriving them of the Constitution right to pursue happiness, however this Debate isn't about whether Drug prohibition or the Drug war is constitutional, it is about whether or not it is irrational and immoral. At least I hope that is what it is about because that's what I think it is about… :
The ability for children to get illegal drugs would not change if those drugs became legal for those over 18. The black market would still be there to provide children with drugs.

Cigarette use decreasing can't be contributed to an end to advertising to children, correlation does not mean causation. Recently cigarettes have been well know to cause cancer and be very unhealthy, this fact has been spread like wild fire, and is all over the place, so much so that pretty much every know it. I could just as equally argue that that is the cause of decrease in cigarette use not less advertising.

Drug dealers whoa re in jail can't distribute or sell drugs.
Debate Round No. 1
cloppbeast

Con

Although the first sentence of my argument stated that the 'War on Drugs' is immoral and illogical, that is not the intended premise. It was only my opening argument. I was intending to debate whether or not the United States should continue drug prohibition. I apologize it that wasn't very clear.

1) I still hold that the 'War on Drugs' is completely immoral.

I'll use a slightly different definition of morals: morals are basic guidelines for behavior intended to reduce suffering in living populations. Immorality is assumed to be anything that would either fail to reduce or increase suffering.

I don't question the motives of the current drug prohibition activists, they are only trying to help people by keeping them off of drugs. But, their positive intentions do not make up for creating a dangerous black market that has ruined many lives including entire communities. Since the net effect of drug prohibition increases suffering among populations of the United States, especially urban neighborhoods, it is immoral, despite good intentions.

2) I still hold that the 'War on Drugs' is irrational.

//The definition of ‘irrational' is, "without the faculty of reason; deprived of reason."
The definition of ‘reason' is, "a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact, event."//

With the broad definition of irrational my opponent used, anything could be considered rational because it does not take into account faulty reasoning. For instance, A person could draw the conclusion that the sun is made out of cheese, because it is yellow like cheese. That person, according to this definition of irrational, did not act irrationally because he had a reason, or a basis or cause, to draw the conclusion. The fact that he used faulty reasoning and drew a terribly wrong conclusion isn't considered. Common sense would tell anybody that he is not using rational logic by drawing his conclusion.

A better definition would be: lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence

With this new definition, The cheese man is not using rational logic because he is not using normal mental clarity.

I have redefined irrational to suit my understanding of the word, and have already explained why drug prohibition is irrational with the 3rd-6th paragraphs of my first argument.

3) Waste: to spend or use carelessly : squander

Considering the 'War on Drugs' is a failed policy, (already discussed in my first argument) every dollar spent should be considered careless.
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//Cigarette use decreasing can't be contributed to an end to advertising to children, correlation does not mean causation.//

Point taken. Cigarette companies' advertising techniques may have had little or nothing to do with the decrease in cigarette consumption. Nevertheless, whatever the reason(s), it has been extremely successful because cigarette consumption has decreased significantly. Notice though, that this decrease was not caused by prohibition; therefore there are other ways to limit drug use without the unintended consequences of prohibition.

Also, it can be assumed that altered advertising strategies, at a minimum at least, did not contribute to cigarette use and it only makes logical sense that it decreased cigarette use, although it can't be PROVEN with the stats provided.
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//Recently cigarettes have been well know to cause cancer and be very unhealthy.....I could just as equally argue that that is the cause of decrease in cigarette use not less advertising.//

Again, point taken. I could, and did in my first argument, make same argument for lower drug use with regards to health effects and illegality.
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//Drug dealers whoa re in jail can't distribute or sell drugs.//

Drug dealers are just pawns in the game. There have been millions of drug dealers arrested throughout the duration of the drug war, but still there are drugs on the street simply because when one drug dealer is busted another one fills in. There are infinite amounts of poor people, especially in poor economies, who can't find jobs and are willing to do anything for money. Since they can't earn money any other way, they deal drugs.
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//The black market would still be there to provide children with drugs.//

Yes, but the incentives would be much less. In the case of the black market for drugs, the incentives to sell to children outweigh the decentives. In fact, there really isn't any decentive to sell to children because everyone is illegal in the same. Perhaps the punishment may be worse for selling to children, but I highly doubt that is a consideration to a drug dealer.

In the current case for cigarettes and alcohol the decentives to sell or provide to children outweigh the incentives. There isn't much money to be made by selling beer or cigarettes to kids, but it could cost a person thousands of dollars and possibly jail time.
Teafood

Pro

Teafood forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
cloppbeast

Con

Disclaimer: I don't think anybody should do drugs. I only think that the negative effects of prohibition are much worse than the effects of the drugs themselves. The reason why alcohol prohibition was rid of, was not because people changed their mind and decided that drinking was ok, but because the effects of prohibition were worse than alcohol consumption.

That's it.
Teafood

Pro

Teafood forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
40 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Our government can do whatever the majority wants, good or bad. We can outlaw french fries and twinkies whenever the majority proclaims it in the voting booths.
Posted by HellKat 8 years ago
HellKat
I mean controlled by the government, not by the people doing it. You can't stop the production of food, people physically need it or they would die, not the case with cigarettes.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Overeating can't be controlled? I and thousands of others do it daily- and it's not easy. But even if you were correct, the TYPES of foods that are available for children to eat can certainly be controlled by the parents.
Posted by HellKat 8 years ago
HellKat
Yes, but the difference is that smoking can be prevented, overeating can't.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
That blows. And the same could be said of the families who overeat and then harm their children by teaching them poor eating habits. I was a chubby kid, mainly because my parents kept really bad food in the house. I grew up on chips and twinkies. Bad eating causes at least as much heart disease as smoking. That was their right I guess. With freedom comes consiquences.
Posted by HellKat 8 years ago
HellKat
You say free men and women, but I feel pretty damn trapped by it. My parents have been smoking for a long time and I've suffered the consequences. I won't get into the details because I don't want to sound like a whiner, but I'll say one thing, my family on my dad's side has pretty much all had their fair encounter with cancer and smoking only worsened that, so if heredity has anything to do with it my dad will probably end up with cancer and that's not something I look forward to, especially since smoking seems to increse the chance.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
I smoke when and if I feel like it. I also like a pipe now and then. It's an ugly habit to be enjoyed only by free men and women.
Posted by HellKat 8 years ago
HellKat
"example where that is true in a modernized country. maybe 3rd world, but I'm listening"

You didn't originally specify what type of country.

"btw, alchohol and tobacco are really bad, but the effects do not justify suspending a free individuals right to partake. so there goes that argument."

Not denying that they are, I'm entirely against tobacco. Let me ask you this. Do you live with somebody who smokes or do you smoke?
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
"Arguing a good case in favor of prohibition is a very, very difficult task"

Yet it stands as law. Our system is rigged in favor of an ignorant and scared majority. Never doubt the immense fallibility of a democracy.
Posted by KommanderWill 8 years ago
KommanderWill
Arguing a good case in favor of prohibition is a very, very difficult task. I applaud the contender for accepting, but he should have finished the debate.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
cloppbeastTeafoodTied
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Vote Placed by cloppbeast 8 years ago
cloppbeast
cloppbeastTeafoodTied
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Vote Placed by Derek.Gunn 8 years ago
Derek.Gunn
cloppbeastTeafoodTied
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