|Voting Style:||Open with Elo Restrictions||Point System:||Select Winner|
|Updated:||10 months ago||Status:||Post Voting Period|
|Viewed:||1,324 times||Debate No:||83555|
Standard DDO rules apply -- first round for acceptance, shared burden of proof, no new arguments or rebuttals in the final round, no semantics, no trolling, etc, etc etc.
LSD is defined as "A powerful hallucinogenic drug derived from lysergic acid"
Good luck to Blade-of-Truth!
I thank Romanii for challenging me to this debate.
Let us begin.
I'm going to use this round to present my constructive case; it's going to be kept rather brief, since I don't like pre-empting arguments. When discussing matters of legality, we generally start out with the assumption that everything is permissible, and then go on to come up with reasons to prohibit certain activities. I propose that's the same mindset we should have with regards to LSD -- the fact that LSD is illegal in the status quo is irrelevant. If we're examining the issue from a tabula rasa perspective, we are led to ask the question -- why shouldn't LSD be legal?
My opponent will be the one answering that question for us in next round, but for now, let's consider the two general categories which his arguments are probably going to fall into:
== Harm to the Self ==
I argue that this shouldn't be considered a legitimate reason for illegality at all. Imagine what the consequences would be if the government were obligated to protect citizens from the negative effects of purely self-regarding acts. They would have to legally intervene in *any* activity which tends to harm the self, including -- eating junk food, sleeping late, slacking off in school, biking without a helmet, throwing rocks at a wasp's nest, drinking alcohol, and having unprotected sex. All of these often produce negative consequences in the long-run, yet literally everyone engages in at least one of them.
But why? It's because they value the positive short-term benefits over whatever negative long-term risks there may be, and there really isn't any objective basis for saying they're wrong in doing so -- after all, the perception of said consequences varies from person to person, and thus it is an inherently subjective matter. So not only is it pragmatically impossible for the government to criminalize anything which causes harm to the self, but it is also just plainly irrational because it involves imposing value-judgments upon people as if they are objective, despite their being blatantly subjective.
Besides that, literally any reasonable moral framework grants people with a basic sense of personal autonomy -- a right to do whatever one wishes with one's own body. This is true even under utilitarianism (which my opponent is probably gonna use). Its originator, John Stuart Mill, articulated a rule known as the Harm Principle, wherein the government should avoid intervening in purely self-regarding acts because it maximizes utility to grant people full personal liberty. It is fairly obvious why this is true: a regime under which healthy diets and bedtimes are being legally enforced is practically totalitarian.
Thus, even if LSD usage does generally cause harm to the self, it should still be legal to use it. Let people decide for themselves whether they value the experience of being "high" over potentially deleterious effects.
== Harm to Others ==
Under the Harm Principle, the government is only justified in criminalizing acts which cause harm to other people. However, literally everything has the *potential* to cause harm to others. For example, driving motor vehicles results in massive harm to others (via car accidents) millions of times per year. But of course, it would be absurd to make driving completely illegal simply for that reason. Therefore, actions have to be *inherently* harmful in order to qualify under the standard of the Harm Principle. For example, murder and rape are illegal because they inflict suffering regardless of context.
This is quite clearly not the case with the usage of LSD -- it is nothing more than ingesting a pill which produces the psychedelic experience of being "high". Nothing about that is inherently harmful to other people; it only becomes harmful if done within an unusual context (e,g, if an armed sociopath does it in a public place). Therefore, LSD usage should be treated the same way as driving -- keep it legal, along with regulations to minimize the occurrence of "unusual contexts."
In conclusion, there is no reason for LSD to be illegal. The resolution is affirmed.
Thank you Pro! I will use this round solely for arguments.
LSD refers to Lysergic acid diethylamide: a semi-synthetic illicit organic compound C20H25N3O derived from ergot that induces extreme sensory distortions, altered perceptions of reality, and intense emotional states that may also produce delusions or paranoia, and that may sometimes cause panic reactions in response to the effects experienced .
The resolution is clear. Pro is responsible for upholding the burden to show why LSD should be legalized for recreational use in the U.S. Whereas I, in turn, must uphold my burden of showing why LSD should not be legalized in the U.S.
Every reasonable judge should view this as a split BOP due to this being a normative debate.
I. Harm to Self
A. Short-term Harm to Self
LSD impairs judgment, this is indisputable. By way of its sensory distortions, and altered states of reality, LSD users become seriously impaired, with the effects lasting up to 12 hrs at a time. Due to the impairment of judgement, we unfortunately see many cases of self-harm when looking at the effects and known cases of LSD users. This is empirically evidenced by the numerous reports of deaths and other tragedies that could have been easily avoided had the drug not been taken (see: ,,).
There are additional risks and harms that stem from the immediate usage of LSD. While under the influence, users experience emotional instability, a loss of sense of reality and a loss of the ability to tell what is real or not. In some cases, this can cause intense fear, a sensation of going insane, or even feeling like they are dying. Negative experiences such as these are what LSD users call a "bad trip" and it's one of the most common harms from LSD and is the most commonly discussed harm amongst LSD users when warning first-time trippers. A bad trip can have effects that last several days after the initial hallucinations pass ,.
B. Long-term Harm to Self
While LSD is not considered to be physically addictive, a user can develop a tolerance for the drug and become psychologically addicted. 
In fact, the DEA has developed three reasons as to why LSD users may find repeated abuse desirable and dangerous:
1) The long duration of the drug's effects means the user will not have to purchase the drug on a rapidly recurring basis.
2) Tolerance develops so quickly that repeated ingestion is useless so the dosages have to become more potent.
3) The inconsistent effects and potential adverse reactions lead to erratic use of LSD. This can be seen as exciting and users will not become bored.
In addition to this, and according to LSDAbusehelp.com, an online LSD support center:
"The psychedelic effects of LSD produce two mind altering conditions that can last for years after just one use of the drug. The first condition is known as hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). This disorder produces repeated long-term flashback episodes to prior events. These flashbacks involve visual disturbances such as seeing flashing lights or false images and objects. HPPD can occur in users for years even after discontinued use of LSD." 
"The second condition that can be caused by LSD is psychosis. Psychosis triggers extreme behavioral changes or violent mood swings in a user. LSD eliminates rationality, and users are no longer able to think, reason or communicate with others. Psychosis is brought on by LSD and causes the user to display strong behavioral changes such as unpredictable mood swings, paranoia and violent behavior. A user can still be plagued with psychosis long after they stop taking LSD. If LSD abuse continues, a person can develop long-lasting psychosis which involves mental illness including schizophrenia and severe depression." II. Harm to Others; direct and indirect
Despite the fact that many mechanisms of how these hallucinogenic drugs work are not clearly understood, it is believed that they work by impairing neurotransmitter reception as well as binding the receptor sites . Due to the fact that it creates sensory distortions, users generally do not make good decisions and unfortunately put the lives of others at risk (see: ,,).
With flashbacks being a proven long-term impact from LSD use, one can only imagine the harm that could arise should someone get behind the wheel of a vehicle and suddenly suffer a flashback while driving. Unfortunately there are no ways to prevent these effects from occurring randomly, so under Pro's plan we'd be legalizing a drug that has unpreventable negative impacts. The most responsible thing to do would be to keep LSD illegal for recreational use, as it's current status seems to be the only effective measure we have in negating the potential harms that already arise.
As it stands, there are no realistic means in which to prevent the harm to others by LSD users should it be legalized. As it is now, we have checks (laws) in place to both punish and dissuade LSD users, both of which serve to prevent potential harm to others.
III. There is no legal or moral obligation to legalize LSD
The key term "should", according to Oxford Dictionary, indicates either a moral or legal obligation. I'd like to explore this and show that there is no moral or legal obligation to legalize LSD for rec. use.
In the United States today, LSD is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This means that the federal government believes LSD to have high abuse potential, a lack of accepted safe use when taken under medical supervision, and no current medical use.  In order to repeal or amend a law we would need 2/3 of the vote in the house and senate. However, there is currently no support, whatsoever, in legalizing LSD or having current LSD laws repealed. In fact, according to the most recent drug legalization polls, LSD has 8% support . Since Pro introduced a utilitarian framework, it's safe to assume that majority rules is a value we both hold highly. We, as a whole, had the opportunity to not make LSD illegal in the first place, yet we allowed the law to be passed. To this day, the status of LSD remaining as an illegal substance is supported by 83% of our population. 
Thus, it is clear that there is no obligation for us to legalize LSD, since the majority does not support nor desire LSD to be legalized.
I have showed the harms associated with LSD use, both short-term and long-term, as well as the direct and indirect harms that can be caused by users in regards to others. In addition to this, I've shown that there is no moral or legal obligation to legalize LSD based on current polls and lack of support by our society as a whole.
I will withhold my rebuttals to Pro's Harm Principle points until the next round due to space constraints.
== Harm to the Self ==
Con heavily exaggerates the harms of LSD. If we take a look at his sources, all he's cited is a couple of isolated instances in which LSD caused harm. Why is that the best that Con could come up with to support his case? It's because the amount of substantial harm that LSD generates is so incredibly low that there aren't any aggregate statistics about it. Try looking it up yourself. Even swimming pools have aggregate statistics regarding their harms, yet no such stats exist for LSD .
As if he's a spokesperson from a medical advertisement, Con goes on to provide a laundry list of every single potential side-effect that LSD could possibly have, but he says nothing about the frequency of those side-effects. Without that information, this isn't compelling evidence that LSD is actually harmful. I could put together a similarly scary case for the horribly negative effects of Tylenol, which include nausea, vomiting, rashes, swelling, difficulty breathing, jaundice, severe liver damage, and even death . Does this convince you that Tylenol is dangerous? If not, then it shouldn't for LSD either.
We should be especially suspicious of Con's claims because empirical studies of the actual LSD-using population flatly contradict them; one such study, which incorporated results from about 22,000 users "found no link between the use of psychedelic drugs and a range of mental health problems. Instead they found some significant associations between the use of psychedelic drugs and fewer mental health problems" . Con's attempts at proving LSD to be harmful fail.
As for "bad trips" -- Timothy Leary, a psychologist from Harvard, reports that "a crisis can be a result of wrong set and setting. Leary advised that users of psychedelics be sure that they are comfortable before taking the drugs. Leary claimed that the frequency of difficult trips was highly exaggerated by anecdotes and fabrications in the popular press, and was actually about 1 in 1000" . Bad trips aren't particularly common, and they only occur under special, avoidable contexts.
Dr. Leary is actually quite famous for his extensive research into the effects of psychedelic drugs, and he has found that "in proper doses, in a stable setting ... [LSD] could alter behavior in beneficial ways not easily attainable through regular therapy... Many of his research subjects told of profound mystical and spiritual experiences which they said permanently and positively altered their lives ... 300 professors, graduate students, writers, and philosophers had taken LSD, and 75% reported the experience as one of the most educational and revealing ones of their lives" .
The implication of all this is that LSD, on balance, actually tends to be *beneficial* to its users, as long as they use it properly. In fact, this can be viewed as a point in favor of LSD legalization because, once LSD is legalized, LSD manufacturers will be regulated by the FDA, and can be required to include information (e.g. warning labels, instruction manuals, etc) which minimize improper LSD usage. Legalization would harness the benefits of LSD while drastically reducing the harms.
== Harm to Others ==
Again, Con merely cites a few isolated instances in which LSD use facilitated harm to others, but that just works against him because it shows how exceedingly rare it is for things like that to happen -- it hasn't been significant enough of a problem for anyone to bother compiling aggregate statistics. Remember that virtually every action has the potential to harm other people under special circumstances -- driving cars, playing dodgeball, using a stapler, or even eating a peanut-butter sandwich. That is obviously not a sufficient reason to make those actions illegal, and it isn't in the case of LSD usage either.
Moreover, the incidents that Con cited occurred *despite* LSD being illegal. No matter how many precautions the government takes, LSD is always gonna be around to some extent, and the people who use it are those who are already willing to break the law -- i.e. criminally-inclined individuals -- the people who are most at-risk for being involved in incidents like the ones Con cites. In other words, incidents like this will happen at roughly the same (very low) rate regardless of whether or not LSD is legal, so we might as well legalize the drug and let law-abiding people reap its benefits too.
Con also briefly mentions how flashbacks might cause motor vehicle accidents, but (1) he hasn't cited even isolated instances of this happening, and (2) he hasn't done enough to establish that flashbacks are a common effect of LSD usage. All things considered, the "harm to others" argument just doesn't provide a compelling reason to keep LSD illegal.
In this round I will be focusing on Pro's argument from R2 and will show why it fails to support his position within the debate. I will focus on Pro's rebuttals to my own case in the following round.
I. Harm to the Self
In this debate, Pro has decided to rely solely on the Harm Principle to show that LSD should be legalized for recreational use. The Harm principle states, in essence, that just because something harms the self doesn't mean it should be illegal - only things that cause harm to others should be made illegal.
Thus, I will not spend any time rebutting this section of the Harm principle, since the only thing Pro really did within this section is provide reasoning for why the Harm Principle works for his position. As a utilitarian myself, I agree with the Harm Principle and only differ with Pro in the sense that I do believe LSD causes harm to others.
If I can show that LSD causes harm to others, then Pro won't be able to stand on the Harm Principle and, by extension, will have no further arguments to rely on.
II. Harm to Others
First and foremost, Pro already concedes that LSD can cause harm to others. This is evident with his statement, "it only becomes harmful to others if done within an unusual context." Thus, we can already establish that LSD does indeed cause harm to others by Pro's own admission, regardless if the harm to others is done under "unusual contexts", the harm is still done.
What Pro does to save himself from his own concession is argue that we should treat LSD usage the same as we do driving a car -- put regulations in place to minimize the occurrence of "unusual contexts", i.e., to minimize the harms it causes to others.
However, this is a false analogy fallacy on Pro's part, as LSD usage and driving a vehicle are two completely different things. Even attempting to compare LSD usage to Alcohol would be a false analogy fallacy due to alcohol being a depressant and LSD being a hallucinogenic. We cannot reasonably ascribe restrictions already in place for certain substances to LSD because the effects of LSD are totally different. Due to the unique nature of LSD, Pro must do more than merely say that we could just put restrictions in place to ensure that no harm to others would occur, as we currently have no such restrictions in place for the legal use of hallucinogens as potent as LSD to even compare it to.
Most importantly, if I can show that there is solid evidence that legalizing LSD for recreational use would cause harm to others, then Pro's entire case would be defeated, as it rests solely on the assumption that LSD doesn't cause harm to others.
To start, I would like to clarify what sort of harm John Stuart Mill meant when first creating his principle. The reason for this is that Pro made the claim that, "actions have to be *inherently* harmful in order to qualify under the standard of the Harm Principle." This is false, Mill never explicitly defines what he means by harm, and he uses various different words at different times (hurt, damage, loss, injury). However, Chapter 4 of his book 'On Liberty' (141- 6) contains a discussion, which if we read very carefully, provides a sense of what harm includes and what it excludes. In general, "As soon as any part of a person’s conduct affects prejudicially the interests of others, society has jurisdiction over it" (141). So, in the first instance, harming someone means injuring their interests.
This is where the distinction can be made between self-regarding actions and harming others.
Self-regarding actions are ones that affect only the agent 'directly and in the first instance'. They may still affect other people, but if they do so, they so 'through' the agent.
This is the strongest point Pro has going for him, because he can rightfully say that any harms caused to others are just the result of self-regarding actions and those actions themselves are not punishable by the government under the Harm Principle. But if we really look at the Harm Principle, we'll see that JSM raised some distinctions and that there is indeed a line between self-regarding actions affecting others, and self-regarding actions harming others.
Mill wanted to use his idea of 'harm' to change what society believes about rights and morality. According to Mill: "'Harm' to our interests involves physical injury and death, being confined against our will, having our reputation hurt, financial loss, being coerced through deception or threat, having promises and contracts broken, being unfairly treated, and even, Mill adds, other people’s selfish refusal to defend us from injury by a third party." (145) This effectively draws the line between self-regarding actions that affect others and self-regarding actions that cause harm to others.
Furthermore, Mill raised an objection to the claim that all self-regarding acts are permissible under the Harm Principle, which was evidenced when he stated: "No person is an entirely isolated being’ (146), so it is impossible that anything someone does that harms themselves will not also harm people close to them. For example, if they harm themselves financially, this will impact on people they support. Or if they harm their minds or bodies, they may become dependent on others. If nothing else, their behaviour will harm others 'by example'."
At this point, I've shown that the act of taking LSD, while a self-regarding act, can affect others, and that if it affects others in the sense of impeding their interests, then the harm principle here becomes null as it doesn't justify legalizing things which cause harm to others.
All that's left now is to answer the question of how the legalization of LSD would cause harm to others in real world application.
Remember that, according to Mill, 'Harm' to our interests involves physical injury and death, being confined against our will, having our reputation hurt, financial loss, being coerced through deception or threat, having promises and contracts broken, and being unfairly treated.
- Physical Injury and Death -
In this example, a young man under the influence of LSD stabbed his friend in the heart, causing his friend to die. Not only did this cause a direct harm to the victim, but an indirect harm to the victim's family members' who mourned the unexpected loss of their teenage son.
In this example a man was shot and killed by police after ingesting LSD and subsequently stabbing his friends. He ingested the LSD in the safety and comfort of his own home, was a smart guy, and was with supportive friends. Even in this preferred scenario of being safely home and with friends recreational use of LSD resulted in harming others.
In this example a student under the influence of LSD caused the death of four people while driving.
In this example, a young lady killed an expecting mother and her fetus while driving under the influence of LSD.
In this example a young lady crashed her car, causing damage to the state and passenger, and then ran around naked in front of children playing softball at a Christian youth camp.
In all these examples, one person's act of ingesting LSD impeded on the interests of others by causing them harm, even in the safest of contexts. Due to the fact that LSD usage is responsible for these occurrences, it's clear that the Harm Principle holds no bearing in justifying the legalization of LSD for recreational use.
Ultimately, I have successfully shown why the Harm Principle fails to uphold Pro's position within this debate.
Romanii forfeited this round.
My opponent, Pro, has forfeited the final round.
Because of this, I extend all rebuttals I raised against his Harm Principle argument, as they currently remain standing unchallenged by Pro.
I will now respond to his own rebuttals aimed at my R1 arguments, and regardless of his forfeiture will be upholding my own burden here.
While self-harm wasn't relevant in my rebuttals towards Pro's harm principle due to it being a non-issue, it's certainly an issue under my own case - in which I am arguing in support of the status quo by showing how the harms outweigh the benefits of recreational legalization. For instance, Pro attempts to rebut my individual cases of self-harm by claiming that I exaggerate the harms which is, according to him, evidenced by the fact that I only shared cases of individual harm rather than any kind of "group harms". Yet, there is a very popular case of the potential group harm that can be made evident if we merely look at the historical use of LSD.
A excerpt from an article titled, 'The History of LSD' states:
While the ‘60s counterculture used the drug to escape the problems of society, the Western intelligence community and the military saw it as a potential chemical weapon. In 1951, these organizations began a series of experiments. US researchers noted that LSD “is capable of rendering whole groups of people, including military forces, indifferent to their surroundings and situations, interfering with planning and judgment, and even creating apprehension, uncontrollable confusion and terror." 
While the tests did yield positive results in altering the mental state of soldiers, it resulted in too many deaths and harms in the test subjects, including a popular case involving the suicide of a CIA agent who was unknowingly dosed during the testing process. This ultimately led the army to publicly state that the substance was too uncontrollable and unpredictable for use in battle. If the army itself concluded that the drug was too potent for military use, then it is not reasonable to assume that the general population can use it recreationally. I've already provided the empirical harms that it can cause in R1, and we can now see that it does indeed cause potential harms in cases where more than one individual was involved. In short, the governments move to make it illegal was highly justified because of the nature, the misuse, lack of clear medical opinion, and spread to the lay public.
Pro is also mistaken in claiming that there are no aggregate statistics about it. The problem is that the medical community was so inconclusive in their independent findings that there was no standard which could be set.  Regardless, it'd be incredibly difficult to find any accurate statistics due to the very nature of the drug as an illegal substance and the lack of willingness for our population to admit to acts that break the law. Facts, as often reported, may be based on statistics. Statistics are based on data — data which is inherently based on a collection of opinions. The danger of statistics is that what we often see reported as fact may not be as reliable as we are led to believe. Thus, the best we can do, as responsible individuals weighing the pros and cons would be to rely on empirical evidence, which in this case wouldn't be statistics, but rather real cases found in the news and studies, both of which I've provided throughout this debate.
Pro's reliance on the study he listed as source #3 is incredibly flawed as well. For starters, it only surveyed 22,000 people, and in that sample the people could have used any type of psychedelic be it peyote, mushrooms, or lsd. So, we have no way of determining just how many of those 22,000 were LSD users, which would be the only people in that sample applicable to the debate here. Furthermore, the study basis its findings from another poll done between 2001 - 2004, so it's over a decade old. The studies and sources I provided are much more recent, cover actual cases rather than basing its finding on opinions collected in polls, and relies solely on LSD users as evidence. For all we know, only 400 of those 22,000 were LSD users, which is an incredibly small sample for such a generalized conclusion to be reached.
More so, Pro relies on Timothy Leary to negate my empirical evidence, which is an appeal to authority fallacy, as Timothy Leary is, by no means, the ultimate authority on this subject. In fact, Dr. Leary himself was quoted saying, "LSD may be creating a new race of mutants." A report by the Crimson Times expands on this:
In a talk at Manhattan Town Hall in New York, the former lecturer in Clinical Psychology, Dr. Timothy Leary said, "I am going to stop using the drug, and I am going to ask you to stop." Because of possible harmful side-effects of the drug, he advised development of further methods to produce the psychedelic effects without using LSD. "By simply using lights, combinations of sound, and the stroboscope we can get the marijuana effect, the mescaline effect and the LSD effect," Leary explained. Thus, any benefit we could potentially gain from psychedelic experiences brought about by LSD can be achieved by non-harmful means that don't depend on LSD usage, as Pro's own source, Timothy Leary, claimed. 
There is no legal or moral obligation to legalize it
Pro never rebutted this argument, thus I extend it.
I've presented my counter-arguments to Pro's rebuttals, and believe that these arguments soundly defeat any and all rebuttals he raised against my case. I previously defeated his only affirmative argument - the harm principle - and was left standing unchallenged due to Pro's forfeiture of the final round.
For these reasons, Please vote Con.
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