The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,094 times Debate No: 34487
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




In the year 1920 alcohol was banned in the United States by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. However, this ban was later repealed by the Twenty First Amendment. Why? One, because the ban targeted the working class and was therefore unfair, two if one knew were to get it one could buy alcohol illicitly, and three too many people were going to jail for possession of alcohol. The same thing is happening with marijuana. According to the FBI"s Uniform Crime Report for 2011, over 750,000 arrests for marijuana occurred last year. That is about 2054 arrests per day in the U.S alone and 87 percent of those arrests were just for possession. If the United States legalized marijuana, a major part of the Mexican drug trade would be stopped, local dealers would go out of business and otherwise good citizens would not go to jail for the possession of marijuana.


I look forward to this debate with you.

Thank you for including those helpful statistics, especially the sources of those statistics; I appreciate the thoroughness as it helps us understand a little clearer.

Based on your argument, I see it as addressing a problem by making it no longer a problem. To be more specific, it's as if since there is a law regarding a supposed harmful (to self or otherwise) act, and so many people are failing to abide by it, that we should just dismiss the law so as to appease our current short-falls. I fail to see the logic behind your final arguments, so I hope you can elaborate a bit.

I do not imagine a major part of the Mexican drug trade would stopped. Rather would it not flourish? I envision a great number of people who are curious about marijuana but are not bold enough today to seek it out, but given the new chance would indeed seek it out. Principles of supply and demand apply here just as in any other trade scenario. This pertains to local dealers as well. Those local dealers should become future shop owners. Mexican crops (should Mexico allow Marijuana use as well), could blossom to fill the demand by new, interested marijuana users. And of course "otherwise good citizens" would not go to jail for the possession of marijuana, it wouldn't be illegal. Is that not like saying, "otherwise good citizens would not go to jail for texting and driving because texting while driving is now legal"?

Which brings up my final concern. One must actually find whether or not marijuana use is good, bad, or neither for the individual or society. We know that there are bad effects of marijuana use, but there are medicinal aspects as well. How many people would use it for medicinal purposes? And how many using it recreationally will be able to keep their habits tempered? I may look into some statistics about the effects of marijuana use. Should it prove more negative than positive, should we allow it?

I would propose that rather than approaching the way you have, by eliminating the problem through just making it no longer a problem, we find the source of the problem instead. For example, why is it that someone needs to go to marijuana for whatever reason? Are they not getting the help they need? Are they under a lot of stress? Is their family suffering? Basically, are there other concerns that if solved, would remove the desire to have and use marijuana in the first place? Sure just legalizing it would be easier, but would it be better? Arrests of course would be gone, but as a society, would we benefit from having marijuana freely? I'm not sure I trust our society to use it sparingly, and there are those who stand to benefit from that very insecurity I have.
Debate Round No. 1


First off I would like to say that even though I support Marijuana's legalization, I discourage its use. The purpose of the ban on Marijuana was to limit its consumption and sale in the United States. If you fail to see the logic behind my argument maybe I can elaborate now. Clearly this ban is not working the way it was originally intended to work. If the ban was working, I would have a hard time purchasing marijuana and we wouldn't even be discussing this issue today. I can go to my local high school, find a dealer, and purchase marijuana very easily. That alone means that the ban has failed and the government is creating a new problem because of the ban.

However, I am going to agree with you that our society should not be trusted in having an unlimited supply of marijuana. There are many alternatives to an all out ban that the government can implement. For example, alongside the legalization of marijuana, the government would have the ability to restrict its use to persons over the age of twenty one. The government could also fund programs that could alleviate stress in the areas where marijuana is used. Support groups could be created to support individuals who use marijuana and these groups would help the individual "quit". If all of these steps were implemented, the demand for marijuana in the United States would be much smaller than what it is now.

Speaking of supply and demand, that is how the Mexican drug cartels operate. The bosses of the cartels recognize that there is a high demand for marijuana in the United States and because they are career criminals, they want to capitalize on that to make more money for themselves. If marijuana was legalized, yes there would be "new interested users" however we are debating the fugitive effect of marijuana of these users. If there was a legal option to buy marijuana in their city or town, I am sure that the new users would rather go through the legal process of buying marijuana rather than buying illicit marijuana for which, they or the dealers could be jailed. One more thing, if Mexico and the United States decided to legalize Marijuana, legitimate marijuana companies in Mexico would sell to marijuana companies in the United States. Such trade could boost the economy in Mexico as well as the United States and the U.S would not have to spend as much money as they are on searching for illicit marijuana coming across the border although, harder drugs such as cocaine would still come in.

If you haven't looked up the statistics on marijuana use yet then why are you debating this? Studies have shown that marijuana is less addictive and harmful than two other drugs legalized by the United States Government, alcohol and tobacco. Everyday you find people smoking and drinking if you go to bars and street corners in a busy city. This is very dangerous for their own health. Of course, nobody wants to see them doing that but replacing the tobacco with marijuana would be a little bit safer for the individual. Now alleviating the individuals stress would lead to him not harming himself at all, but such a drastic change would take to much time, debate and effort than the reward. According to UCB current marijuana users are more likely to avoid picking up heavier drugs than their peers in other countries, including the United States. This hints at a culture where cannabis is used only for recreation, with people fully aware of the effects stronger drugs have. The study also confirmed that Dutch citizens consume considerably less cannabis now that they have unlimited access to it. I think that speaks for itself.


Must a ban be working at 100% success to be considered "working"? Might the mere tempering of use by 5 or 10% be considered at least helpful if not working? Granted it does not discourage use entirely, but I still fail to see how removing it will drop the use more. What I have read and seen is that education about marijuana is the biggest assistance. In Denmark, marijuana was temporarily "legalized", use surged, and then dropped by 30% but only after everyone was starting to realize the effects of marijuana. Could it not be possible to skip the legalization attempt and merely educate people on the effects of marijuana? This is what I have seen done with tobacco and I believe the education is taking an effect. (see this chart for an example: Granted tobacco smoking was never illegal per se, but tobacco smoking does not have some side effects that marijuana has such as impairment leading to vehicle accidents and such.

The principle of the matter, and the moral ideal I feel would be to, ultimately, eliminate marijuana use entirely (as a means to get high, etc.). What you are suggesting, the legalization, I feel, may be capable of diminishing the use once people realize it's so hazardous, but never ceases it entirely. There's also the moral question of: do we let people find out for themselves? Or do we just keep it illegal and help them to see why? In a few countries such as Denmark and Switzerland, playing with this question has yielded some bad consequences.

In response to some of your other ideas, restrictions sound good...but they would fall prey to similar issues that plague a) what you're challenging (enforcement) and b) future law-making. Just like alcohol, my guess is we'd find a problem of older individuals buying for the younger.

Regarding the actual growing of marijuana, sure it would be grown locally which may impact foreign demand, especially if people want to play it safe. However, if you are buying from a dealer (using the term in a positive way), in the United States, who knows where that dealer got the marijuana from? Who will likely charge less or produce it for less? Just as with any other trade good, foreign grown/made goods these days are simply cheaper than what we make in the United States. Dealers could still get the marijuana from Mexico (or wherever really) in interest of greater cost-saving and higher profits. With the market so far expanded, I could see Mexican growers thriving because of this.

And finally, I think it still all comes down to a good, better, best argument. Right now what we have is good, you're suggesting a better, and I think there's a best option out there that could save us some unfortunate and unnecessary side-effects of the better option.

I found this article: really interesting and I think gives some good reasons why legalization does not bring about positive results in the long run.
Debate Round No. 2


No, a ban does not have to be at 100% success to be working. Yes 5 or 10% might be helpful but then that raises the question is it good enough. I am trying to present a better alternative to the system we have now that would work at a maybe 25% success rate. I agree that legalizing marijuana is not the best solution to the marijuana problem, but it's the solution we have right now. As to education, it sounds like a fine idea, however, the people that are actually willing to go out and buy marijuana are the people who resist this kind of drug education and take huge unnecessary risks. You said that, "In Denmark, marijuana was temporarily "legalized", use surged, and then dropped by 30% but only after everyone was starting to realize the effects of marijuana." We have had this debate for over three decades. The harm it would do when the surge happens would be insignificant when compared to the reward. If the legalization never happened in Denmark then how would we get to the end result? The tobacco argument you mentioned is invalid because you are correct tobacco was never illegal in the first place and there was no huge problem with it. If the same thing was done with marijuana think about what the effects would be like.

The moral question about do we let people find out for themselves or do we keep it illegal and help them see why is also invalid. Currently the United States government would endorse the second option and it is because of that that the United States is in this situation right now. Like I said, the study at UCB confirmed that Dutch citizens consume considerably less cannabis now that they have unlimited access to it. It appears that the Dutch have played with this question and it also appears that they have done something right, in this case, legalizing marijuana.

The question of would U.S marijuana companies try to buy illicitly grown plants from Mexico is certainly a complex one, but I think it would have a different effect than what you have predicted. If the U.S and Mexico both legalized marijuana a trade partnership would form, but if Mexico did not legalize it I would see that Mexican marijuana would be priced about the same as us marijuana because the Mexicans need to sneak it past the Mexican police and U.S border patrol which is a whole different battle. Even if illicit Mexican marijuana was cheaper than the U.S alternative, I could see ATF taking these cases very seriously and putting the violators out of business so there would be lots of profit lost.

This is a good better best argument. What you are arguing is that because the better argument has flaws the good argument should still be put in place while we search for the best option. Society needs a solution now and just saying no without a solution that is not already existent in this country would be a disservice to this country as a whole.

Thank you for debating this with me.


The question is then, is it worth it? You say that the the harm would be insignificant compared to the reward. While I agree the reward is tempting and desirable, I still don't think the means of getting there are worth it. Marijuana use can be devastating to someone's life. I have no idea how many people are on the fence about its use, but should it surge, a surge in the United States is far more significant than Denmark due to sheer population size, as well as the availability of marijuana in the first place. Marijuana can ruin lives, careers, etc. I fear that if we legalize marijuana, we lose the ability to honestly recommend against its use; it would be a hypocritical belief based on our actions. Imagine my son was interested in marijuana use. I told him, "Son, I don't recommend using marijuana, it's not healthy for you, it can get you into a lot of trouble, and there are better ways to get help for whatever is going on." He can very easily respond with, "but dad, if that's true, then why did you legalize it?" All I can say to that is the very conversation we are having here, "Well hopefully so that people will find out it's not good". Thus giving him reason to go find out. I admit, that's a goofy way of putting it, but the point is, we give up our stand, we abandon our opposition to it, and making it legal can indeed be seen as a permission slip, and I do dare say an invitation. I do not wish "sacrifice" if you will, thousands of individuals just to prove the point that marijuana is bad. I don't want to sacrifice thousands just to get them onto a "lesser drug". If we are concerned about marijuana use, which you are, and I am as we can tell from this debate, then we need to make that clear to our government representatives and make a bigger effort at education. Sure it will take longer, I understand that, but acting quickly on matters, seeking faster results isn't always better.

I enjoyed our debate and thank you for allowing me to debate with you.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 4 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: I agree with pro, but showing that legalizing marijuana would do more good than harm is not a legal argument. Instead pro should have simply focused on it as a harmless thing that should under the constitution be a right. I feel that because of the lacking argument, con carried this debate.