The Instigator
TheSloth
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
Heller
Con (against)
Losing
11 Points

Drug legalization

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/14/2007 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,665 times Debate No: 419
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (13)

 

TheSloth

Pro

When one looks at the current policies in the US with regards to drugs, the only possible rationalization for them is that they lower the level of recreational drug use. While I do not doubt that the legalization of drugs would cause at a least a temporary increase in use, there is no reason to believe this would dramatically impact substance abuse levels. After all, for most Americans who fit the drug using demographic, the supposed lack of availability of drugs has never inhibited their usage.

If it is established that the only benefits of prohibition are less use, it can be seen that that benefit is far outweighed by the potential benefits of a legal market for recreational drugs. The vast majority of drug-related deaths in America are not the result of overdoses or drug-induced violence, but instead violence associated with the illegal black market that is forced into existence through prohibition. This violence would cease to exist should black market forces lose their monopoly of the drug trade. With no legal route to resolve conflicts, violence is the inevitable result. If companies could legally sell recreational drugs to adults, there would be no market for street dealers and other criminal drug-related activities.

A cost-benefit analysis of the reasoning provided above shows the following:
IF
...problems resulting from increased use of recreational drugs < problems resolved by more than halving drug-related deaths in addition to the elimination of black market criminality...
THEN it would ultimately be beneficial to legalize recreational drugs.

In addition to removing the criminal element behind the drug trade, legalizing drugs would make it easier for drug users to avoid overdosing as a legal market would provide a stable supply of drugs and keep the purity of drugs regulated. This would further reduce drug-related deaths by making overdoses far less likely.

Furthermore, legalizing drugs would allow the government to tax them. By ending the monopoly that criminal gangs have over the distribution of drugs, their price would fall and the incredibly cheap production of certain drugs would provide ample opportunity for the government to heavily tax them and use the revenue to help out those with substance abuse problems. In addition, no longer would the government need to spend billions of dollars fighting the "war on drugs". No longer would the government need to imprison anyone on drug related charges on a large scale, thus saving room for violent criminals.
Heller

Con

Starting right off the bat.

You say, "While I do not doubt that the legalization of drugs would cause at a least a temporary increase in use, there is no reason to believe this would dramatically impact substance abuse levels."

That's just simply not true. For example, look at cigarettes, they are everywhere. This is from the Department of Health and Human Services, "Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking. In fact, one in every five deaths in the United States is smoking related."

We have already seen that things get out of hand when it comes to "drugs".

To your second point, "The vast majority of drug-related deaths in America are not the result of overdoses or drug-induced violence, but instead violence associated with the illegal black market that is forced into existence through prohibition."

Saying that we should let people do mind altering drugs in order for violence to drop is not a good reason to me to let people do harmful things to there bodies and ultimately killing themselves..ending up with a higher death rate then the violence cause by the "Black Market". Again almost half a MILLION people die from cigarettes in the US alone every year! You will be ultimately killing more people by supplying drugs to them.

Your last argument is about the financial cost of legalizing these drugs. Well you say that the price would fall on these drugs. Which would only allow people to get more of them and use more frequently. Even if you think personally you can control yourself on certain drugs, not everyone can and you need to think of society as a whole. You also say that the government could then tax the drugs and use the money for people with "substance abuse problems". We ALREADY spend money to help people with these substance abuse problems. Lets not make it even more wide spread by legalizing drugs.

In summary, legalizing drugs would hurt society as a whole, kill more people, cost more money to help with substance control, and screw up a GREAT, GREAT country.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSloth

Pro

"That's just simply not true. For example, look at cigarettes, they are everywhere........."

And illicit drugs aren't? The problem with the cigarette comparison is that 1) cigarettes can be consumed "on the job" in a way that most illicit drugs cannot thus increasing their consumption relative to other drugs. 2) Cigarettes have never been illegal so its impossible to say whether or not their legality is responsible for their popularity. 3) The consequences of cigarette use generally don't come into play until one has been smoking them for a very long time, thus there is little direct incentive to quit until its too late.

Regarding the legal availability of drugs, the thing is that people are doing these drugs anyway regardless! Having them be illegal has not prevented people from using drugs. Nothing short of creating a complete police state will prevent drugs from being used.

The fact that cigarettes kill people is irrelevant to the argument at hand. Marijuana has never killed a soul yet it remains illegal. The percentage of people who die as a direct result of drug use is staggeringly low relative to the number of people who have used them. This is true for all drugs, including crack cocaine and methamphetamine. There is absolutely no factual basis for your claim that the ridding of drug-crime related violence would be offset by more people dying because they chose to use drugs. By legalizing drugs, no one would be forced to ever use them anyway. Just as I choose not to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol I could choose not to use "hard" drugs.

How many people choose not to do hard drugs (drugs that could potentially kill someone, i.e. not marijuana, shrooms, LSD, MDMA) just because they are illegal? For me, and I would imagine a majority of others, the illegality of drugs is pretty low on the list of reasons I have for not doing them.

In 1999, 3.7 million Americans used cocaine and 4,864 people overdosed on it. That amounts to 0.13%. Of all the people who's ONLY rational for not doing cocaine is that its illegal, only one out of 769 will die as a result of an overdose should it become legal, assuming the conditions that lead to overdoses remain constant (doubtful). The number of people who's lives would be saved as a result of the dismantling of the black market for cocaine would easily trump that figure.

A studied showed that 4% of people who have done heroin in their lifetime had used it in the past month. Using basic reasoning one can conclude that this means that more than 96% of heroin users either don't become addicted or are able to survive and rid themselves of the habit. It also forces us to conclude that less than 4% of heroin users die from it. So that means that if heroin were legalized, less than 4% of people who's ONLY rational for not using heroin is its illegality would die, probably even far less than that considering that uncertain purity leads to a large proportion of heroin ODs.

Again, no one would be forced into using drugs. The only people who would use drugs who other-wise wouldn't are those who's only rational for not using is that they are illegal. How many people do you think make up that demographic? After all, I still wouldn't use drugs except for maybe the occasional joint, I know that no one in my family would suddenly decide to use drugs, I'm sure you would still choose not to use drugs, so I can't imagine very many people would suddenly decide they want to use hard drugs simply because there would no longer be legal consequences for doing so. Hell, for the VAST majority of drug users, there are already no legal consequences--most people who use drugs simply know how to safely acquire them without there being a change of getting arrested.

Regarding the price of drugs, yes the price of drugs themselves would fall if they were legalized. I would add, however, that whether or not--or how much--of this change in price would be passed on to the drug users themselves would depend on how much the government taxes them. Even if the government decided to keep the price of drugs lower than they are currently on the street, an argument can certainly be made that this would reduce drug-related crime. A company that sells bike-locks refuses to insure them in Eugene (where I go to school) solely because of the number of meth addicts that steal bikes in the city to support their habit. Generally speaking, lower drug prices leads to a reduction in theft and other crimes that help addicts support their habit.
Heller

Con

About the first part, you saying that since Cigarettes have never been illegal so its impossible to say whether or not their legality is responsible for their popularity.

Well I can almost assure you, and I am sure you agree, that if they were illegal many new people would have the urge to quit even if they didn't have one before. The reason the law is set up the way it is, is to give people reasons not to want to do things that are illegal. Thats why you get fines for things that you do that are illegal. Its an incentive to stop.

Even if people are doing drugs regardless of the law not to, it does not mean that the law should be abolished. The truth is everyone has the option of doing drugs. Its just that if you do certain ones your gonna have to expect the consequences. Like fines, jail, and mental instability. Again the reason that drugs are illegal is to give incentives to people not to do them.

As for your statistics on people using cocaine and other drugs and dieing, even if the number was 1 in a million who die, would it not be better to have no one die from the side effects of these drugs?

I understand what your saying about no one would be forced into using drugs, however the reason those laws are there, are to sway you from using them. For medical proven reasons. They really are set up to help you and I. Plus like you said even if it doesn't stop you from using drugs maybe it will stop a young kid from starting to use and ending up in a life and environment he didn't have to end up in. Like I said, theres a reason why they are illegal.

I'm also very glad to here you don't use hard drugs. Also if its a joint your looking for then move to Amsterdam, I hear your aloud there. America is set up how it is for a certain reason. We don't want drugs to ruin us the way it has ruined many other countries. We try to show that we are the greatest country in the world. If you don't like how the rules are set up, you can easily just move somewhere else.

Drugs will make you feel and act different ways, thats the reason for the popularity of them even though they are illegal. I certainly believe that, maybe not you, but a lot of people would get out of hand with them.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSloth

Pro

"Well I can almost assure you, and I am sure you agree, that if they were illegal many new people would have the urge to quit even if they didn't have one before."

Well, illegal drugs are illegal yet still people use them.

"The reason the law is set up the way it is, is to give people reasons not to want to do things that are illegal. Thats why you get fines for things that you do that are illegal. Its an incentive to stop."

The problem is that reasoning just doesn't work in practice. The government can discourage drug use through anti-drug laws all it wants and people will still use drugs. My point is that in part because of this, as a society we would be better off having them be legal.

"Even if people are doing drugs regardless of the law not to, it does not mean that the law should be abolished. The truth is everyone has the option of doing drugs. Its just that if you do certain ones your gonna have to expect the consequences. Like fines, jail, and mental instability. Again the reason that drugs are illegal is to give incentives to people not to do them."

So if drugs are so bad, why does the government need to add extra incentive not to use them? I don't need the state to tell me what I should or shouldn't put in my body. As an adult, I should have the right to make those sorts of decisions on my own. Even if I become addicted, isn't that penalty enough, do I really deserve criminal punishment on top of that?

What about alcohol? That causes more deaths than all illegal drugs combined, yet it is not only legal, but celebrated. Why is it legal? Because we found out that alcohol prohibition just doesn't work@! People still drank, and because of its illegal status it was much more dangerous to do so. The same goes for other drugs now, people still use them, and because of their illegal status, it is far more dangerous to do so.

"As for your statistics on people using cocaine and other drugs and dieing, even if the number was 1 in a million who die, would it not be better to have no one die from the side effects of these drugs?"

Here is where you have completely missed the point. If no one ever died from drugs, yes that would be better, but its completely impractical. Even with drugs being illegal, people still die from them, so for you to simply say you'd prefer a drug free utopia shows the complete sillyness of your argument. It is a fact that the illegal nature of drugs has caused many people to die from them because of uncertain purity. This would not happen if drugs were legal.

"America is set up how it is for a certain reason. We don't want drugs to ruin us the way it has ruined many other countries."

Name me one country that has a drug problem worse than the US. The only countries that possibly fit that description are countries whose drug problem is derived not from heavy usage but from supplying drugs to America: Mexico, Peru and Colombia. The problems suffered by these countries are not inherently drug-related, but instead related to the policies of the so-called "war on drugs". Why do you think Mexico has taken steps to legalize marijuana and tried to legalize cocaine?

Also, this debate isn't about what I personally think about drugs, its what I think would be best for the country I love: the United States of America.

You seem to be concerned with the number of people who are killed by drugs, yet you completely dismiss the fact that undoubtedly there would be fewer drug-related deaths if drugs were legalized. As I've stated in the previous posts, illegal drugs are responsible for the black market. Why do you think so many of our cities have been hurt so much by the influence of gangs? If drugs were legalized, gangs would no longer be able to traffic and deal them. Without the illegal drug market gangs could not thrive--there isn't a single other illegal vice that is NEAR as profitable as drugs.

You can't argue with the fact that a marjority of drug-related deaths are related to the trafficking of drugs rather than their use. All of these homicides would be eliminated completely if drugs were sold through legitimate means. You can't argue with the fact that a large proportion of overdoses and drug-use related deaths are related to the uncertain purity of drugs bought off the street. It cannot be disputed that a far fewer proportion of the already small number of drug users who die from their use would die if they were able to buy there drugs through legitimate means.

In conclusion, legalized drugs would mean fewer drug-related deaths, increased government revenue, the ending of the incredibly wasteful "war on drugs" which has gone through billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars but hasn't had any impact on the availability of drugs, and would give responsible adults a choice of what recreational mind-altering substance they wish to use besides alcohol (which is just as addictive as any hard drug).
Heller

Con

Well I wish the effects that drugs can cause on people were enough of a reason, but there obviously not. I wish they were though. You have said yourself that it is illegal to have these drugs, but people find ways of getting them. Do you think it would be different if we made it legal, do you really think people would only take the "recommended dose". It would get out of hand to quickly. The problem with drugs is that one you get a tolerance you need more to get the same high. People will search for more and more to get the same high. It wont be moderated like you think it will be. You say, "Well, illegal drugs are illegal yet still people use them." Well I will say the same to you about the idea of setting up a stable amount for people to use these drugs. It will be illegal but people will still abuse them.

I quote, "My point is that in part because of this, as a society we would be better off having them be legal." I would like to know how you think that this would be better for society?

You say as an Adult you have the right to choice what to put in your body. You absolutely do, no one is stopping you. The government just says if you get caught doing that, in this country, certain things will happen.

Simply put, by promoting drugs, your promoting deaths.

Here is a whole website that shows you just the thing your talking about, and why it doesn't work.

Chapter Three: The Experience of Foreign Countries and Drug Legalization

Discussion

I. Their Argument

Proponents of legalization suggest that the experiences of countries such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland prove the efficacy of legalizing or decriminalizing various types of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. They maintain that because such drugs are legal, these countries have fewer addicts and less drug-related crime.

II. Our Argument

The statements of the legalizers here are empirically untrue. As we discuss each country in turn, it will be shown that legalization did not work in any of them.

A. Great Britain

With the report of a government commission known as the Brain Committee of 1964, England instituted a policy whereby doctors could prescribe heroin so long as they followed certain treatment criteria.47 Previously in England, doctors could prescribe heroin much like any other opiate (such as morphine). This allowed a few unscrupulous doctors to sell ungodly amounts of heroin to members of the black market.48 Consequently, it was believed that if heroin were offered at medical clinics according to stringent rules and regulations, addicts would come to these clinics to seek treatment and eventually would overcome their habit.

As of 1983, however, England began to phase out these programs of clinically supplied heroin in favor of methadone treatment.49 Why? First, according to the reputable British physician journal Lancet, the number of addicts increased 100% between 1970 and 1980.50 A disproportionate number of these new addicts were between the ages of sixteen and seventeen.51 Second, only twenty percent of all of the addicts in England belonged to the clinical programs.52 At first blush, this fact seems strange - why would addicts choose not to participate in a program wherein they get free methadone? The answer probably lies in the fact that methadone does not produce the high that heroin does. Also, addicts probably did not care for the mandatory treatment and rehabilitation facets of the clinical programs. Whatever the reason, by 1985 England had 80,000 heroin addicts, the vast majority of whom wen not in treatment.53

A third reason why England began to abolish its clinical heroin program was the fact that not only were there few people, in them, but the programs themselves did not work. According to the British Medical Journal, more addicts left the program because of criminal convictions than because of treatment.54 Fourth, even with the clinical programs, heroin addicts had a death rate twenty-six times the average population. Finally, even when the programs were in operation, Scotland Yard had to increase its narcotics division 100% in order to cope with the increased crime rate.56

To summarize, the British experience with decriminalized heroin in the clinical context was a dismal failure. When experts from British Columbia were debating whether to create a similar program, they made the following conclusions that are so important as to deserve to be quoted at length:

While some success is claimed in terms of reducing the incidence of young users, the following findings have also been noted:

1) The British approach has failed to attract a majority of addicts;

2) Many registered addicts continue to turn to illicit sources of

drugs;

3) Many registered addicts do not decrease their dosage over time;

4) Many registered addicts continue to be involved in criminal activity;

5) Many registered addicts are chronically unemployed or do not earn enough to look after themselves;

6) The death rate of registered addicts is much higher than that of the general population and may be higher than that of North American addicts;

7) Since 1960, there has been a dramatic increase in the English addict population;

8) The black market for heroin continues to thrive;

9) Law enforcement appears to remain a necessary, costly and complex control measure.

In view of the above, it is felt that the application of the British approach to British Columbia would present serious dangers.57

B. The Netherlands

Proponents of legalization almost certainly would cite Amsterdam as the drug Mecca of the Western world. Anyone may go into the restaurants in this city and order marijuana and hashish from a menu; further, heroin and cocaine have been decriminalized for all practical purposes. The police simply leave the users alone. Consequently, health officials estimate that Amsterdam has 7,000 addicts, 20% of whom are foreigners.58 These addicts are responsible for 80% of all property crime in the city, thus necessitating that Amsterdam maintain a police presence far greater than those of cities of comparable size in the United States.59

The Dutch have not raised one dollar in tax revenue from drug sales, and drug violators account for 50 percent of the Dutch prison population, a higher proportion than in the United States.60 The Netherlands is the most crime-prone nation in Europe and most drug addicts live on state welfare payments and by committing crimes.61 Nationwide, the number of reported crimes increased to 1.3 million in 1992 from. 812,000 in 1981.62 Faced with public disgust at home over soaring drug related crime and pressure from other European Community countries to strengthen drug laws, Dutch authorities are implementing an aggressive program to reduce drug-linked crimes and disturbances and show new teeth in combatting illegal drug sales.63 Eberhard van der Laan, leader Of the Social Democrats in the Amsterdam City Council says, "People are absolutely fed up with all the troubles caused by drug addicts - car windows broken, noise, whole streets almost given up to the drug problem."64 Legalization advocates claim that marijuana use in Netherlands has not increased since the laws were liberalized, but the number of Amsterdam drug cafes rose from 30 to over 300 in one decade. They also fail to note that daily marijuana use by U.S. youth has declined by 75 percent.65

There are more you can look at the website..http://www.druglibrary.org...

Thats my argument to why, this idea won't work.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Heller 9 years ago
Heller
I think this was supposed to be on who you think won the debate. Not who's argument you agree with.
Posted by cloppbeast 9 years ago
cloppbeast
Not to mention, they are put in jail for a crime that shouldn't even be a crime in the first place. Why does the government have the right to tell us what we can or can't do to our own body's? If the right to privacy is indeed granted in the constitution, which the supreme court has decided on several accounts, why does it not apply to drug use? Furthermore, why was a constitution ammendment necessary to prohibit alcohol consumption but not necessary to prohibit drug use? Surely I'm not the only one who notices these discrepancies.
Posted by dullurd 9 years ago
dullurd
one important thing to add to the cost-benefit analysis of legalization is the enormous number of nonviolent drug offenders who are thrown in jail. They cost you, the taxpayer, a lot of money, but more importantly of course, years of these people's lives are utterly ruined. They are snatched from their friends and family and thrust into a dangerous cage where they must constantly be vigilant against being raped or murdered. Isn't this a terrible thing?
Posted by cloppbeast 9 years ago
cloppbeast
//Again the reason that drugs are illegal is to give incentives to people not to do them.//

Aren't the affects of the drugs enough of a reason? If a person is willing to use a drug despite the potential harm it can cause, including death, why would a law prevent the use of the drug?
Posted by Heller 9 years ago
Heller
Hey, is there a way I can add you to as a friend or something? Ron Paul!!!
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