The Instigator
Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Is marijuana harmless?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/6/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,719 times Debate No: 34573
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




I will use the first round to see if my opponent accepts my challenge.


I will happily debate this with you, and would like to clarify two premises:

A. The burden of proof is equal.

B. We are discussing the actual effects of marijuana on a person, not the effects it has on crime or society due to people trying to obtain it.

I look forward to a fun and informative debate.
Debate Round No. 1


My case to prove that marijuana is not harmless shall rest on two main points

Short term effects of marijuana or effects of getting "high"
Long term effects of marijuana

When one smokes marijuana for a long period of time one can achieve the effect of getting high. What happens when you get high? Well according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, "THC (main intoxicant in marijuana) rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body." What happens when one gets high? Well they get, "Distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and disrupted learning and memory." (1) That may not seem like much for a short time. However, if one was driving while high on marijuana they might as well get into a car crash because it is clear that marijuana will effect how well you operate a motor vehicle. Also, if one is high while smoking marijuana and, God forbid, someone comes to attack or rob them, how do you expect them to defend themselves. If any situation that requires critical thinking or problem solving skills comes to light while one is high on marijuana, it is the drug that is impairing them to solve these problems.

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana has long term side effects too. Also according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "A recent study of marijuana users who began using in adolescence revealed a profound deficit in connections between brain areas responsible for learning and memory. And a large prospective study (following individuals across time) showed that people who began smoking marijuana heavily in their teens lost as much as 8 points in IQ between age 13 and age 38; importantly, the lost cognitive abilities were not restored in those who quit smoking marijuana as adults." If only marijuana can do that much damage, to say its harmless, is almost insane! If it can do that imagine what else it can do. I can give you an example of what else it can do also from the N.I.D.A, "In chronic users, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory persists after the acute effects of the drug wear off; when marijuana use begins in adolescence, the effects may persist for many years." How can marijuana smokers get jobs? Memory and the ability to learn are very important in today's world. If a straight A student started to smoke marijuana their future would be ruined because of that one mistake. And if that isn't enough marijuana use can also be life threatening, " In one study, it was estimated that marijuana users have a 4.8-fold increase in the risk of heart attack in the first hour after smoking the drug. This may be due to increased heart rate as well as the effects of marijuana on heart rhythms, causing palpitations and arrhythmias. This risk may be greater in older individuals or in those with cardiac vulnerabilities." As I have demonstrated, I hope people can understand the negative effects of this drug. No drugs are harmless, not even Tylenol or Advil, all drugs may have a good use, but all can have some serious side effects. Although marijuana is not as harmful as cocaine or heroin, it's still a drug, it's still legal, and, I hope you all understand that it's still harmful.



First let's define harmless. Since obviously the first definition, incapable of doing harm, is silly, as nothing is harmless by that definition, the second definition would do better:

Harmless (Adj): mild, innocent

I will be arguing that the effects of moderated marijuana consumption is mild and innocent, and that marijuana can also do good.


1. The first of con's points I immediately raise a grievance to is "When one smokes marijuana for a long period of time one can achieve the effect of getting high." This is simply not true. Marijuana does not need any kind of heavy usage in order to obtain the benefits, and few people actually use it to any serious extent. As for con's effects, while I do not take issue with the biased websites he used, perhaps a more professional source for the effects should be utilized. MayoClinic suggests something quite different. "Cannabis Sativa is widely used recreationally to achieve increased feelings of well-being." The "risks" also included by MayoClinic are low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. Much more mild description, by a much more reliable source. (1)

2. As for long term effects, studies have drawn a weak connection between long-term marijuana use and some conditions, with no stronger evidence than that linking, say, vaccinations and autism. Indeed, many studies suggest the opposite. casts some insight into the issue. "Marijuana has not been shown to cause mental illness. Some effects of marijuana ingestion may include feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary." (2). Another source, UCSD Health Sciences News, did an analysis of studies conducted on the effects of marijuana. The results? "An analysis of research studies with long-term, recreational users of marijuana has failed to reveal a substantial, systematic effect on the neurocognitive functioning of users. According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, the only deleterious side effect found was a minimal malfunction in the domains of learning and forgetting." (3) The study found that the only side-effect of marijuana use was some memory loss, at a "very small magnitude". While there may be long term health problems, there is simply not enough evidence to make that claim.


1. Some studies even suggest recreational marijuana use may actually give health benefits, The Macomb Daily Newspaper cites one such study. "People who had used marijuana in the past month had smaller waists and lower levels of insulin resistance - a diabetes precursor - than those who never tried the drug, in a new study." (4) In other words, those who smoke marijuana may actually be less vulnerable to diabetes. There are further possible health benefits, which I may use later in the debate.

2. Medicinal marijuana is a great herbal medicine that can be used to alleviate multiple ailments. One such ailment is chronic pain, which Pain Management of America explains. "Cannabinoids have well-documented analgesic properties that make medical marijuana an effective medicine to treat many cases of chronic pain syndrome." (5) The site also asserts that 70%-80% of patients to which marijuana was administered felt a great relief in their pain, for which no other medicine has worked.

True Evidence puts it well: Still Believe Nature Got it Wrong?

I look forward to con's next argument, and would also request he site more of his sources.

Debate Round No. 2


I have no idea of where my opponent got his definition of harmless, but I have a definition from the Merriam Webster dictionary: Harmless: 1. Free from harm, liability, or loss 2. Lacking capacity or intent to injure. (1) I never said that the definition of harmless was incapable of doing harm (see my first argument). I will now start my rebuttal of pro using his own sources. First off, pro states Lets start with his fact from MayoClinic, he says that "The "risks" also included by MayoClinic are low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and drowsiness. Much more mild description, by a much more reliable source." First off, I wouldn't call a privately owned company more reliable than a government site, but let's check the facts. As indicated by the safety page, yes low blood pressure, low blood sugar. However, read this and you will see that in certain patients low blood sugar can be deadly, "Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar." If that isn't enough pro left out some more facts, "Cannabis may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs, herbs, or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these agents may change in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions." Does that sound mild to you? It also says, " Avoid in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Research suggests the presence of significant risks to the fetus or developing infant or child." (2) Is that harmless?

My opponent also states that, "According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, the only deleterious side effect found was a minimal malfunction in the domains of learning and forgetting." (3) Would you say that a defect in the domains of learning and forgetting is mild or harmless? I do not think so. Once again: Harmless: 1. Free from harm, liability, or loss. My opponent only mentioned the effects on the brain or the central nervous system, but what about the lungs? One study from New Zeland says that, "People who smoked cannabis or tobacco expelled less air in a second than non-smokers and took longer to expel all the air from their lungs because their airways had narrowed slightly." (4) Is that harmless? I think not. An article from the American Lung Association also states that, "Marijuana smoke contains a greater amount of carcinogens than tobacco smoke. In addition, marijuana users usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco smokers do, further increasing the lungs exposure to carcinogenic smoke." (5) For those of you who do not know, a carcinogen is, "A substance or agent causing cancer"(6)

Like any medical substance, marijuana may have some good health benefits, but , like most drugs, it also has side effects. We are arguing the question, "Is marijuana harmless?" not does marijuana have health benefits?

As my conclusion, I would like to state that it takes one serious side effect to say that a substance is not "Free from harm, liability, or loss" or "mild or innocent." I believe that I have demonstrated that marijuana has many serious side effects and is therefore not harmless.

Thank you for debating this with me.



First of all, I got my definition of harmless from (1) My point on the definition I chose is that carrots are not harmless when too much is consumed. Nothing is harmless, which is why using the definition "lacking the capacity or intent to injure" is not a rational definition for this debate. It is my bad for not defining terms before we started this debate proper.

1. What do you mean MayoClinic being a private organization makes it less qualified than a Government website? It is a non-profit organization, devoted to accurate medical information. I would dare to say it may in fact be more reliable than a Government website, especially a Government who favors the continued criminalization of marijuana. Also, the reason I did not mention the liver risk was that I assumed we were not talking people with pre-existing conditions. My opponent also fails to explain why MayoClinic's symptoms are unreasonably mild. "Caution is advised" is a very mild statement, which con implies I left out intentionally. Indeed, my opponent can only find possible harm for people in certain conditions or states, such as pregnancy or on other medicine or herbs. Of course people in certain conditions should not be using marijuana. Con is using the exception, not the rule. Perhaps statistics involving crime or accidents due to the intake of marijuana would prove more useful for con's case than theoretical problems which are highly disputed.

2. In relation to my cited UCSD study, which found a very small possible loss of memory and brain functions for marijuana users, con says "Would you say that a defect in the domains of learning and forgetting is mild or harmless?" Con ignores the actual tiny magnitude of the effects. Doctor Igor Grant of the study says ""Surprisingly, we saw very little evidence of deleterious effects. The only exception was a very small effect in learning new information." The very scientists running the study stresses how minimal the difference was. Whether there was any difference at all is questioned by the doctor, who later says "In addition, Grant said that heavy marijuana users often abuse other drugs, such as alcohol and amphetamines, which also might have long-term neurological effects. This raises the question of the extent to which the other drugs contributed to the minimal problems found in learning and forgetting in the marijuana users." Con next asserts that marijuana has negative effects on the lungs. Fox News, of all sites, reports a study finding no correlation between marijuana and lung problems, specifically mentioning tobacco. (2)

Since my opponent will not be responding to the good marijuana does, then I will not pursue it, but if marijuana does more good than harm, it is fair to say that it is not just harmless, but good.

In conclusion, my opponent has failed to provide any solid evidence of long-term effects of marijuana, and has provided no evidence that short-term effects lead to any repercussions, other than legal consequences.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Aniline 5 years ago
While it's possible to use marijuana in a manner that is minimally harmful, I don't see how anyone can seriously argue that it is harmless or without risk.
Posted by sadolite 5 years ago
Neither side could agree on a definition of harmless. It is neither winnable or losable
Posted by Ameliamk1 5 years ago
My bad, forgot to site my sources so here they are:

Posted by StevenDixon 5 years ago
THis is an easy win, marijuana is not harmless.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by utahjoker 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro showed that in an overall stand marijuana is harmless and has some health benefits