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

Drugs should be legalized.

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/14/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 17,108 times Debate No: 23599
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (2)




I think that drugs should be legalized for a number of different reasons.
1) Illegal drugs are creating a social underclass of people who are trapped in a vicious cycle.
2) The war on drugs has failed and should stop immediately.
3) If made legal, we can control the supply of drugs.

I will elaborate further on these arguments in my next post.
I would invite anyone who has the opposite view of drugs policy to join me...


I'm glad to be able to debate this very opinionated modern topic with you.

For the record, when accepting this you simply say drugs so for our purposes you mean all illegal drugs. My basic arguments to be expounded upon later are listed below

Drugs should not be legalized for several reasons

1.) Drugs harm the Environment
2.) The war on drugs is successful, and is world wide
3.) Drug usage is highly addictive and overall bad for an individual
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, I would like to thank Tetraneutrons for accepting this debate. Yes, I do mean illegal drugs. I apologise for not making that clear. I will respond to your arguments and show why they are false in the next round when he unpacks them in more detail. In this round, I would like to explain my argument on why illegal drugs are creating a social underclass.

When I say underclass, I do not mean a class of people who are of lesser value in society, but people who are trapped in a cycle of prison, unemployment and crime. I will explain. What happens with the majority of drug takers is that they get trapped in this cycle. They turn to drugs for whatever reason. Because the suppliers can charge whatever they want for it, the person cannot afford to pay for the drugs without turning to crime. In most cases, this means theft. Then they get arrested for either the criminal offence they have committed, or the fact that they have taken drugs. After a stint in jail, they have been surrounded by other criminals, without drugs for a year or more, and when released cannot get a job. The number of jobs at the moment is severely limited and so a criminal record will instantly see you crossed off the list. So they spend lots of time at home with nothing to do. What's an easy thing to do in your own home that brings you a small amount of pleasure in an otherwise awful life? Yep. You guessed it. So they get back into drugs, and the whole cycle starts again. Now the majority of the people in this cycle are black.
Of the 353,000 people who were jailed for drug related offences in New York between 1997 and 2006, 52% were black. Only 15% were white. Black people are a victim of this vicious circle and if legalized, we can help a lost generation.

The statistics from this website prove my point that drugs lead to a lot of theft cases:

If legalized, this cycle can be stopped. Drugs will not be at prices which people can't afford. People will not need to resort to crime. Crime rate will be lowered and this social underclass will be stopped.

There is another way in which legalizing drugs will help deal with crime. A lot of big criminal networks are funded by drugs. This is how they keep afloat. If their financial support is cut off, then they will become bankrupt and therefore the crime rate will be lowered. Legalizing drugs is dealing with the problem which is so deeply attached to Western culture, on every level. The users will be helped and rehabilitated, not punished and rejected. The dealers will be either prosecuted or go bankrupt. The criminal gangs will be put out of business.

I eagerly await my partner's response...


I will first address my opponents arguments, and then make some contentions of my own.

Rebuttal 1

First my opponent correctly notes that the social underclass often uses drugs. However, that being said drugs are not the reason that they are the underclass to begin with, poverty is. That being said, most poverty stems from a lack of a proper education. [1] More so, a proper education can break the cycle of poverty, however the writer notes that paradoxically "the poor cannot afford education, and the illiterate cannot hope to earn enough to overcome poverty." [2] Basically what is happening here is my opponent is confusing a symptom with the cause. It is not the illegality of drugs that causes poverty, it is poverty that drives people to use drugs. Ultimately legalizing drugs would only relieve one symptom of a very complex social problem. According to Robert Kaestner in a study performed by the National Bureau of Economic Research "..The public has a significant amount of empirical evidence, some anecdotal and some systematic, that links drug use and poverty." [3]

To address your point about African Americans, they actually perform worse in education. Now there are a myriad of reasons for this, which could be discussed in another debate, but mainly is because of institutional racism. However it's is important to note for our debate that they perform worse on SAT scores [4] and academically overall, which leads to poverty due to a poor education, which leads to drug use.

Rebuttal 2

Moving on to your crime argument. This is inherently false that legalizing drugs would bankrupt criminal organizations or somehow reduce crime. The illegal drug trade will still exist because black market trades will always be cheaper and more lucrative. There is no doubt that if drugs were legalized that they would be taxed, we draw this inference from the empirical evidence of US lawmakers taxing other addictive intoxicants. Because of this, it would be much cheaper and easier to operate outside of the law and the bureaucratic red tape that comes with getting a license etc. etc.
The same arguments were made to legalize gambling, although there is still a lot of gambling that operates outside of the law. Moreover, even if it did decrease consumption, supply would still need to come from somewhere, and importing it from criminals outside the country would still be more cost effective, basically funding illegal groups.

Contention 1

Next, Drugs harm the Environment. According to the Guardian, currently 300,000 hectares (741,316 acres)
of Rain Forest are destroyed each year to make Coca plants that form cocaine. This is done primarily by illegal groups. [5] Legalizing drug use would create a need that remains at the same level or more, furthermore destroying more rain forests.

Contention 2

Lastly, Illegal substances are addictive even if legal, and cause economic harm to individuals and society. According to a study performed by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, "The proportion of children and teenagers in treatment for marijuana dependence and abuse jumped 142 percent since 1992" [6] This is just Marijuana which is considered one of the least addictive substances. Addiction creates dependence, which means one will have to spend money, even if they don't have it, on drug luxuries. Also addiction will cause taxpayers to have to pay for more substance abuse treatment for individuals, increasing the economic burden on society as a whole.

Debate Round No. 2


As my opponent has done, I will also start my argument with some rebuttal, before moving onto my main argument that I will be making in this round.

"Illegal substances are addictive even if legal, and cause economic harm to individuals and society."

The main problem we have as a society, with helping drug addicts, is that it's a grey area whether they can be open and seek support over their addiction. If made legal, they don't need to live in a state of fear and anxiety. They can seek rehabilitation openly and not be terrified about being jailed. If made legal, we can also monitor how many drugs they are buying, which means we can make sure that we put our resources into helping the most venerable. One of the main problems, is that because the drug market is underground, we don't know is at risk and needs rehabilitation. The state's role is to protect and look after it's own people. How can they do this, if some of the most venerable people in our society -some of the people who need our help and attention the most- are being kept at arms length because of the law that drugs are illegal, bad, and that people who take them are not worthy of our help.
My opponent also claims that legalizing it will decrease the economic burden on our society as a whole. Is he aware of how much has been spent on fighting drugs? This year alone, the U.S Government has spent over $15 billion dollars on the war on drugs. That's about $500 every second.
The total figure is close to 1 trillion dollars. A 2008 study by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron has estimated that legalizing drugs would inject $76.8 billion a year into the U.S. economy: $44.1 billion from law enforcement savings, and at least $32.7 billion in tax revenue ($6.7 billion from marijuana, $22.5 billion from cocaine and heroin, remainder from other drugs). Does my opponent still think that keeping drugs illegal will decrease, "the economic burden on society as a whole." I hope not.

"Drugs harm the Environment."

My rebuttal to this point links nicely to my point that I will be making this round.
My partner correctly states that a lot of rain forest is being cut down to make way for farmland that drugs will be grown on. However, the problem is being started not by the farmers who are growing the drugs, but by the Americans. One of the main tactics that the Americans have used in the war of drugs, is the eradication of the fields where drugs are being grown. Now this strategy could not be more stupid. The American planes fly over Colombia, spraying glyphosate herbicide (google it) over the fields. It means that not only are the drugs destroyed, the ordinary crops that people grow to eat are destroyed. People starve. The land is then so chemically infected that nothing can grow there for a long, long time. This promotes an anti west feeling in these countries. How would you feel if a plane with an American flag flies over and poisons your financial supply. Not only your financial supply, your food supply. Not best pleased to be honest. Pretty pissed off. That is now what a significant proportion of Colombian farmers feel like. All down to America.
So now what do these farmers do? They have to move, as their land is poisoned and they can't stop growing coca because that is far and away the crop which a farmer can get the money from. They do exactly as my partner claimed. Move on, cut some trees down, and start again. Then the exact same thing happens all over again. More poisoned land. More felled rain forest. This cycle won't stop unless the war on drugs stops. The war on drugs has left the American economy and international reputation reeling. The environmental harm of which my opponent speaks of is real. It can be stopped, if we stop polluting the fields of South America.


First I would like to state that since he did not answer my rebuttals and only my contentions, pull the rebuttal arguments through in favor of my side.

Moving on to my opponents rebuttals

First, lets address what you say about addicts getting support. Addicts, at any time, can go to a rehabilitation center on their own free will and get help without fear of legal repercussions. Otherwise, Lindsay Lohan would be serving multiple sentences for the x number of times she's visited. Most states won't even arrest you for admitting you do drugs if you do not have drugs on you or in your system because its nigh impossible to prove you actually do drugs. It is not illegal to go to rehab. Essentially that argument fails, because anyone, of any race, gender, ethnicity, financial status, or dug addiction can go to rehabilitation.

Also you say "One of the main problems, is that because the drug market is underground"

While that's true, there will always be an underground drug market, I pointed this out in my Rebuttal 2 where I talk about how we can't eradicate the cartels influence even if we legalize currently illegal substances. Also, there will always be an illegal market, children, that will have to go underground to get drugs.

Next he talks about my economics argument. First before I move on to talking about the argument, I want to indict the source of that study. Jeffrey A. Miron, while being a Harvard economist, is hardly a credible source. Nearly every public policy position he stands on is motivated by libertarian thinking, and he's a senior fellow at the CATO institute (a libertarian think tank). For all intents and purposes he's really a lobbyist, and I don't find his study credible. Mr. Miron also opposes anti bribery laws which are a pretty good thing.

Now, on to the argument. First those are estimates in how much the government would make, not solid numbers. In fact I have no idea where he got those numbers because those numbers would change according to a couple variables.
In order for that to be in any way accurate we would have to know

1.) The cost of the drugs in a free market
2.) The tax rate of the drug AND sales tax for the individual state
3.) The rate of drug consumption

Without knowing the true variables behind those three variables, which can not be accurately predicted, where in the hell did he get his number? Either way, the study could be very seriously wrong if any of those variables changed. Also I assume his number come from if all people paid taxes on it. Because there would still be an illegal drug market, this would still be an inaccurate number.

You also have to take into account the costs on society. Health care will exponentially increase do to the fact that it will cost more to treat all the people with addictions. In fact, it's safe to say that all insurances will go up whether it be medical, auto, or life insurance because drugs can adversely effect all of these. Drug treatment costs, hospitalization for long-term drug-related diseases, and treatment of family violence would also place additional demands on our already overburdened health system. Also my opponent fails to mention that part of that 44.1 billion that goes to law enforcement, isn't all spent on Law enforcement. Some of it is spent on prevention and education and some is spent on rehabilitation. [1] Legalization of drug usage means we'd have lower worker productivity and creates a safety issue in the work place. Would you want someone legally high to operate a bulldozer on your construction site? In fact employees who abuse drugs are five times more likely than other workers to injure themselves or co workers and they cause 40% of all industrial fatalities. [2] Not to mention the cost of drug related accidents, fines, and enforcement that would have to go with it.

Basically the net costs outweigh the net benefits and therefore legalizing drugs should not be preferred.

Lastly, your environment argument doesn't stand because they could grow something else other than coca on that land. But more than that even if we legalized our drug market there would still be an illegal drug market in the US and more than that Globally. They would still have to produce Coca and just because the united states legalized drugs doesn't mean we'd stop our global drug war such as the eradication of the poppy fields in Afghanistan and spraying herbicides on Colombian coca fields.


Debate Round No. 3


I am supposed to rebut the rebuttal? This is my first debate and so I was not aware of this rather baffling fact. As my opponents last entry consists of entirely rebuttal, I guess I have no choice but to start with doing as he suggests. I will then move onto my own point which is something I sincerely hope my opponent does in the next round as we have seen precious little from him in the way of his own material.

The point that I was trying to make was that it's a grey area. Very few drug addicts will admit that they are addicted and then find enough courage to actually go to a rehabilitation center. There needs to be much more of an open dialogue between the state and the users. A recent study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (it's not libertarian leaning I promise you), predicted that of the 20.8 million Americans aged 12 and older (8.3 percent of the population) in 2008 who needed treatment but did not receive it at a specialty facility, more than 95 percent (95.2) felt they didn't need it.

This statistic tells you all you need to know and backs up my point that the vast majority of users are not seeking rehab. The fact that we have a rehabilitation center which people can go to, if they feel like they want to, is just not enough. As I said before, if made legal, we can monitor who is addicted. The complete breakdown in understanding between the state and the users currently, means that millions of people are in need of help, and there is no way that the state knows or can ever know. That communication will become much more easy and effective if drugs are legalized because we will know who needs help and the responsibility will be back on the shoulders of the state and of those of the users.

I'd now like to respond to his claim that there will always be an underground market. I will now say why that is false. The main reason that the drug market is such a massive one, is because dealers and suppliers can charge virtually anything for their drugs. Their consumer base are venerable, damaged people who will do anything to get the drugs. Now the vasts amount of money which is made from this market, as I have said before, go to criminal organizations. They need a stable, and rather large source of income to fund their activities. This will be taken away if legalized, meaning that they will have to go elsewhere to find new sources of money. This means that they won't be paying the dealers, and so they will go elsewhere for money. It also means that the suppliers, the actual farmers who grow the drugs in places like Colombia and Afghanistan, are not being paid astronomical amounts to grow coca. This means that they will start to grow other crops which actually benefit them. If they decide to grow drugs then they will receive roughly the same amount of money as they would if they sold wheat. My opponent is being extremely naive when he says,

"They could grow something else other than coca on that land."

Does he not realize that coca is by far and away the most expensive crop and the one which the farmers get the most amount of money from? By legalizing drugs, they will still be growing some drugs but the money incentive is taken away meaning that they grow a variety of crops.

He questions my source on the claim that stopping the war on drugs will benefit the economy. But you don't have to be a genius to work out that this is true. Here is another source for him.

Even fox news, one of the most right leaning news organizations recognize that the war has been a complete failure and will save billions of dollars. Do I need to come up with any more studies before he sees that his claim that legalizing drugs will cost the economy more? A socialist one maybe?

My opponent mentions that health care costs will increase if drugs are legalized. He said, "Health care will exponentially increase do to the fact that it will cost more to treat all the people with addictions." Is he saying that we shouldn't treat all people with addictions? That's a pretty explosive comment. Yes, it will cost more short term, but we have to think long term about this point, as we have to think about the long term in this whole debate. By legalizing, we will see a new generation which is not caught up in a world where taking drugs is cool because it breaks the law. Therefore the long term benefits outweigh the short term benefits.

I'd now like to make my final point of this debate. Control over the supply. The most harmful effects of most street drugs is not the drug itself, but what it's cut with. Arsenic which is used to make rat poison is a common one. Strychnine is sometimes cut with cocaine and heroin which can cause kidney failure, brain damage and even death. If made legal, we can make sure that these harmful substances are not being mixed into these drugs.
By itself, Heroin isn't that harmful. It is used in morphine in hospitals and it's other uses include treatment for acute pain, such as in severe physical trauma, myocardial infarction, post-surgical pain, and chronic pain, including end-stage cancer and other terminal illnesses. It's when they put it together with arsenic that we need to start thinking about it.

I have shown you over the course of this debate why the war on drugs has failed and has to be stopped, why legalizing drugs will lift a social underclass of a cycle of unemployment, drugs and crime, and also why legalizing it means we can monitor the drugs that people take and what substances we are letting people take.

Vote Pro.


You don't have to answer my rebuttals, but otherwise I obviously win those arguments because you don't reject or defend your original statement that the rebuttal addresses. Also my own material that you cite I fail to provide are the environmental harms argument and the economic harms argument. More so my job as the con is only to refute your arguments, you have the burden of proof as the pro.

First your argument on rehabilitation

You say "The fact that we have a rehabilitation center which people can go to, if they feel like they want to, is just not enough. As I said before, if made legal, we can monitor who is addicted."

1.) That is not the governments job to clean up after people whom have chosen to take a course of action that is ultimately destructive towards themselves. Legalizing drugs gives people the Autonomy over their body to take whatever they want but this then becomes something they have to be personally responsible for. The government provides resources, education, and outreach but ultimately, as your study shows, most drug addicts don't want treatment. According to your own study, the most common reason for those who needed treatment but did not receive it was "Not ready to stop using (38.8 percent)." [1] and the second was because "No health coverage/could not afford cost(32.1 percent)." [1] These two elements alone make up that majority of why drug addicts don't want treatment. It's because either A. They have no interest in stopping abuse or B. Can't afford it. According to you own study the illegality of drugs is not why people refuse to get treatment.

According to James Q. Wilson a Collins Professor of Management and Public Policy "There are some drug-dependent people who genuinely want treatment and will remain in it if offered; they should receive it. But there are far more who want only short-term help after a bad crash; once stabilized and bathed, they are back on the street again, hustling. And even many of the addicts who enroll in a program honestly wanting help drop out after a short while when they discover that help takes time and commitment. Drug-dependent people have very short time horizons and a weak capacity for commitment." [2]

2.) There will always be a black market. If drugs were legalized, they would be taxed, this is a fairly obvious point that even the pro admits will happen in his economics argument earlier with his Miron study. If the government taxes it, the black Market can undercut prices. For people in poverty who are the primary users of drugs (a point which has gone uncontested through out the debate) they will almost always choose the cheapest source. Also, children will always be an illegal market that the dealers can pander to, because (hopefully) we would still have age stipulations on whom can use narcotics. Phillip Bean says "There will always remain a black market for drugs and and illegal system to supply them." [3] My opponent claims this won't increase foreign drugs production, but this is still false. Instead of the farm land supplying drugs to just dealers, they will be supplying drugs to illegal dealers and legal dealers of narcotics in the US.

3.) He talks about the Coca farming. I've once again presented while though it may not be as economical, if they are tired of people burning their land maybe they should plant something that isn't illegal. More than that even if we legalize drugs Colombia would still find a way to destroy the Coca farms because the Colombian government opposes them. That is the only reason they allow us to conduct the pesticide/herbicide raids in the first place. If we weren't doing it the Colombian government would in some capacity.

4.) The health care increase problem. You say " Is he saying that we shouldn't treat all people with addictions?"
That's not what I said at all. What my argument said is that someone is going to have to pay for all of that and since most drug addicts are in poverty, guess who gets stuck with the bill? The American taxpayers and the already overburdened health care system. I'm not saying we shouldn't treat people with addictions, I'm saying due to the health care costs we shouldn't enable more addictions.

5.) Most importantly, legalizing drugs would have severe impacts on health, the quality of life and would increase the number of addicts. According to a CNN article legalization of just Marijuana in Amsterdam led to "an increase in drug addictions and dependency followed by illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking and crime." [4] Because of said increases, the country is going to ban foreigners from its potshops in 2013. Also, Portugal decriminalized all drugs and in 2007 had the most cases of Drug Injected AIDS in the world. It also is one of the only countries to have an increase by 30% of drug overdoses in 2005. The article wisely notes "Drugs are not harmful because they are illegal, they are illegal because they are harmful." Addictions would increase, violence would increase, and crime would increase. The economic costs but importantly the costs of the degradation of life in a society would be substantially worse.

6.) The war on drugs has been successful, despite your claims here are the statistics. Drug controls slashed global opium supply dramatically: in 2007, it was one-third the level of 1907. What about recent trends? Over the last 10 years, world output of cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy has stabilised, and in many instances dropped. Cannabis output has declined since 2004. Since the mid-90s, opium production moved from the Golden Triangle to Afghanistan where it grew exponentially at first, but started to decline (since 2008). [5]

In summary, the pro fails to prove why illegal substances should be legalized because ultimately, there are huge implications for us. Economic implications that stem from having a less productive workforce and a more dangerous one at that, as well as having to pay more for health care and insurances, and pay for a larger police force. Societal implications of a systemic black market that targets the poor and children, paying for the production of illegal substances in other countries that cause environmental impacts, and higher rates of crime and poverty. Society has already felt the pains of alcoholism and how its tore individuals and families apart. Implementing a policy like this would recklessly add countless more destroyed by cocaine, LSD, Heroin, PCP, and even Marijuana.

The pro has failed to meet the burden of proof to provide why Drugs should be legalized. Vote Con


Debate Round No. 4
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con refuted everyone one of Pro's points effectively. This thorough take down of Pro's points caused Pro to miss filling the BOP. Since Pro failed to do so and Con's points were all valid and well suited to counter Pro's, Con wins.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro has burden, and never was fulfilled. CON refuted PROs points well. Its fairly simple vote, just read the debate.