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Legalization of LSD

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,317 times Debate No: 23813
Debate Rounds (3)
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Right, I realize this has been done in the past, but would like to debate someone on this. 3 round debating the resolution that Resolved: LSD should be legalized within the United States.


I accept.

State your case.
Debate Round No. 1


A bit of background, if I may, before I begin. As it stands, LSD is a Schedule I Drug within the United States. This means that it is illegal to possess, produce, buy, etc., and that it is found by the government to have high potential for abuse, no legitimate medical use, and a lack of safety exists for its use under medical supervision. As I will show, none of these really hold true to LSD - and there are a number of reasons for its legalization.

1. The illegalization of LSD contributes to high prison rates

LSD, as with any other drug, can carry stiff penalties is one is caught possessing it. Laws vary by state, but are unanimously harsh, and possession of LSD is considered a felony in nearly all states. Floridian law, for example, states that :

(l)1. Any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, 1 gram or more of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) as described in s. 893.03(1)(c), or of any mixture containing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), commits a felony of the first degree, which felony shall be known as "trafficking in lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)," punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. If the quantity involved:

a. Is 1 gram or more, but less than 5 grams, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 3 years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of $50,000.

b. Is 5 grams or more, but less than 7 grams, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 7 years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of $100,000.

c. Is 7 grams or more, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 calendar years and pay a fine of $500,000."

Such stiff penalties for a generally victimless crime has a two fold effect. For one, it puts people in prison who are not criminals and generally do not need rehabilitation - if anything, they need medical help - causing an increase in the prison population (which in the United States is a serious problem). Moreover, American prisons are notorious for their gang culture - thus sending someone who possessed LSD to prison for 3 years may actually encourage a criminal mindset upon release.

2. People have a right to choose

I will address the actual harmfulness of LSD in my next argument; however, for the sake of this point, I will assume that LSD is indeed seen as harmful (which I disagree with, but again, will be addressed below). Even operating under such an assumption, people should have a right to choose whether or not they want to take LSD by weighing the risks and benefits. Cigarettes and alcohol, for example, are currently legalized with that same logic applied - people make a decision to use them and weigh the associated risks and benefits beforehand. There is no reason for the government to be limiting citizens' choice when there is no evidence that LSD harms society as a whole or poses a huge risk to an individual's health or well being.

3. LSD is not harmful

My opponent will undoubtedly try to claim that LSD is a dangerous substance that must be banned for the sake of safety. This is a claim often made by the government/proponents of keeping LSD illegal, but the evidence shows quite the contrary.

For one, to date, there have been no documented and verified deaths of LSD overdose. The estimated Lethal Median Dose is 3,000 times the traditional dose size (100 micrograms), meaning one would have to obtain massive quantities of LSD (five figures worth) and knowingly take it in order to overdose. Moreover, there is no potential for addiction with LSD, and its dependence potential is incredibly low. Not only that, but there are no lasting physiological changes that occur in taking LSD ( - any physiological alterations that occur are temporary and generally last for the duration of the "trip" only. Psychologically, LSD's effects only remain for the duration of the trip, and no actual evidence has directly linked LSD with a cause of mental illnesses as many have attempted to claim it to be.

4. LSD has many benefits and legitimate societal uses

Now that we've established LSD is far from a harmful substance, I'd like to show why it should be legalized and what makes it more than just a recreational drug with little importance.

LSD has been shown to be useful within therapy. During the 60s, doctors within the UK were surveyed on the use of LSD within therapy. Only 7% found the substance "dangerous", while 56% found it effective and continued its use in clinical therapy.

Additionally, LSD has been shown through studies to be effective in easing end of life anxiety, treating cluster headaches, depression, and pain - all of which are legitimate medical uses. And, in an ironic twist of fate, LSD has been found in a 2012 study to be effective in decreasing alcoholism for an extended period of time and to have a higher rate of success than AA.

More anecdotal evidence also suggests that LSD has inspired creativity and served as an effective tool at inspiring positive attitude shifts. Steve Jobs famously stated that taking LSD was "one of the most important experiences" in his life, while Kary Mullis gave LSD credit for allowing him to come up with DNA Amplification technology.

In conclusion, the case for legalizing LSD is clear. It is a drug that has many benefits to the individual and society, minimal harms, and which has actual harmful effects on society while it remains illegal (due to sentencing laws and the prison system). By legalizing LSD, we allow all of the societal, medical, and personal benefits that it has empirically been shown to possess to be exploited for the good of society, while giving individuals the ultimate choice as to whether or not they want to take the "risk" of using the drug (which, as I have shown, is quite low).


I am going to refute my opponents points before making one of my own. Please don't watch the video until the section titled video but voters please do watch the video all the way through.


C1. High Prison Rates

When I read this argument I found it a little redundant and silly to post. Obviously, when LSD is illegal using it leads to prison time.

This is like saying "Murder is illegal, so murderers go to jail so we should make murder legal so they don't go to jail." It is a completely worthless argument. If something is illegal then yes it leads to prison time for the users. I don't really know how to refute this point other than pointing out that it isn't really a point at all.

Then my opponent makes claims that LSD users aren't criminals and upon being released from jail become criminals and yet posts no sources to back any of this up. The point is moot.

C2. The Right to Choose

While the right to choose, as you put is, is a viable argument for something it is not a viable argument for LSD. When under the influence of LSD a user is not only a risk to themselves but a risk to society as well (a point I will elaborate on later). The right to choose may apply to behaviors that apply to you and you only but when the affects of your choice are potentially harmful to a group or society at large then your right to choose does not apply.

Since LSD produces dangerous effects for society it cannot be chosen to be used by a single individual since the effects can potentially be felt by many.

I don't like the argument that "since X is similar to Y and X is legal Y should be legal too" because X and Y are different and obviously hold much different circumstances. I am not for the legalization of alcohol for similar reasons. Just because something completely different yet slightly similar to another substance is legal doesn't mean that they should both be legal. If sexual misconduct was legal and rape wasn't you could not cite sexual misconduct as a reason to legalize rape.

C3. Harmful

I am not going to cite overdose as a reason to ban a drug because frankly I couldn't careless if one junkie wants to OD on a drug. Likewise, addiction is not a factor in declaring whether a drug should be legal or not since cigarettes are legal. These two things don't contribute to why LSD is illegal.

However, there are long lasting psychological effects of LSD outside of the infamous trip which is dangerous in its own right (will address later).

"LSD users often have flashbacks, during which certain aspects of their LSD experience recur even though they have stopped taking the drug. In addition, LSD users may develop long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression." [1]

"LSD-induced persistent psychosis may include dramatic mood swings from mania to profound depression, vivid visual disturbances, and hallucinations. These effects may last for years and can affect people who have no history or other symptoms of psychological disorder." [3]

LSD use leads to flash backs and recurring symptoms of the drug after the "trip" has worn off. I has also been known to cause sever depression and in some cases even schizophrenia born from the flashbacks and loss of reality. These affects can last for YEARS and cause mental problems to occur in people with no history of mental health issues. I don't know why my opponent thinks this drug has no long term affects because clearly it does.

Despite my opponents best efforts to paint LSD as a harmless one time trip it is far more dangerous than that. The trip alone is dangerous and has potential to be deadly (addressed in greater detail later) and the effects are long lasting.

C4. Benefits

My opponent cites an outdated survey taken in the 60s. I would like to point out that in the 1800s users and doctors thought cocaine to be a "miracle drug" that could cure almost anything while boosting human performance. They turned out to be dead wrong. [2] This study is outdated. I would love my opponent to post a study from today stating the same numbers.

Next, my opponent ironically says it will help end depression when it is a cause of sever depression in users. Also, it is easy to forget about your pain and life struggles when you lose track of reality. Massive amounts of alcohol also helps patients relieve stress and forget about their troubles but is that a good solution? No.


P1. LSD Dangerous to Society

The biggest danger LSD poses is the trip. While the circumstances surrounding the use, the users and the situation before and after taking the drug may differ with varying results the trip itself is always the same and always dangerous. The government has proclaimed the drug illegal based on the affects of the trip [2].

a. Harmful Effects

The most potent and dangerous affect of LSD is the loss of perception and recognition of reality. [3] The users of LSD have reported "seeing sounds" and "hearing colors" [3], sensual inputs get completely scrambled. It can lead to hallucinations, flash backs, terrors, fits and loss of control of sever emotions. What this creates is a completely dangerous situation where the person does not know where, when or how they are.

There is no predicting what a person will do under the influence of LSD. Can you imagine if they stumbled across their kids? Got in a car? Wandered into the street? Made their way into the kitchen? The garage? With senses completely shot, reality distorted and your perceptions gone this presents a clear danger to the user. It can also endanger members around the user. If a person having a trip got in a car everyone on the road is in danger. If the person having a trip is at home the entire family is in danger of erratic and dangerous behavior by the user.

"Bad trips, however, include terrifying thoughts and nightmarish feelings of anxiety and despair that include fears of insanity, death, or losing control." [3]

"Some users have suffered fatal accidents while under the influence of LSD." [1]

The government is an entity that has a responsibility to protect the public as a whole. Legalizing LSD puts the public safety at risk. There is no way my opponent can say that losing track of reality is safe for anyone around the person feeling the effects of LSD. Hearing colors and seeing sounds is not safe for those around. The threat of accident, death, injury and loss of control are potent to everyone around the user.


Here is a video of a primary source of someone who had a bad trip. He describes losing control, losing reality, damaging property and using weapons when under the influence of LSD.

For the safety of the user and society LSD cannot be legalized.

Debate Round No. 2


nickgb forfeited this round.


I rest my case.

Extend arguments.

Vote Con
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Con dismantles Pro's arguments and his rebuttals are not addressed, due to Pro's forfeit.