Marijuana Is Less Harmful than Alcohol
Debate Rounds (4)
Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.
Marijuana: "The cannabis plant."
Less: "To a smaller extent, amount, or degree."
Harmful: "Causing or capable of causing harm."
Alcohol: "A colorless volatile flammable liquid, C2H5OH, synthesized or obtained by fermentation of sugars and starches and widely used, either pure or denatured, as a solvent and in drugs, cleaning solutions, explosives, and intoxicating beverages."
1. The first round is for acceptance.
2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
3. No semantics, trolling, or lawyering.
4. All arguments and sources must be visible inside this debate.
5. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument.
Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate. Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (no rebuttals by con)
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments (no new arguments)
Round 4: Defending your original arguments and conclusion (no new arguments)
Effects on The User
In comparison to alcohol, marijuana's effects on the user are much smaller. Not only alcohol contribute to far more deaths proportionally than marijuana, alcohol also has many side effects.
One study finds that, "Tetrahydrocannabinol is a very safe drug. Laboratory animals (rats, mice, dogs, monkeys) can tolerate doses of up to 1,000 mg/kg (milligrams per kilogram). This would be equivalent to a 70 kg person swallowing 70 grams of the drug"about 5,000 times more than is required to produce a high. Despite the widespread illicit use of cannabis there are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose." A different study that looked at thousands of news articles and other assorted literature found no deaths from marijuana.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is a much different story. Around 88,000 deaths each year are reported from drinking too much alcohol. It is responsible for an additional 1.2 million emergency room visits each year. The economic costs of alcohol are estimated to be over $200 billion each year. It is estimated that alcohol costs each user about $165 dollars in health-related costs compared to marijuana's $20 per individual. Alcohol is clearly more deadly than marijuana. It is all too easy (around 10 "drinks") to overdose on alcohol, but almost impossible with marijuana.
One of the main side effects, brain damage, is actually much worse in individuals having taken alcohol. "Despite the myths we've heard throughout our lives about marijuana killing brain cells, it turns out that a growing number of studies indicate that marijuana actually has neuroprotective properties (i.e., it works to protect brain cells). Meanwhile, it is widely recognized that alcohol use permanently damages brain cells."
Finally, I'll consider addiction rates. The term "addiction" is a little vague, but study after study has found dependence on alcohol to be at a greater percentage than marijuana for users. "The researchers found that of those who had tried marijuana at least once, about 9 percent eventually fit a diagnosis of cannabis dependence. The corresponding figure for alcohol was 15 percent."
Here is a chart showing various symptoms of addiction, including dependence, withdrawal, and tolerance:
Alcohol, across the board, scores higher (more serious) scores compared to marijuana.
In conclusion, another study compared nine different effects of various drugs (acute harm, chronic harm, IV harm, intensity of pleasure, psychological dependence, physical dependence, intoxication, other social harms, and healthcare costs) and ranked them based on their combined score in all the categories. According to the list, with number one being the worst, alcohol was ranked 5, while marijuana was only ranked 11.
Effects on Others
Arguably more important than the effects on the user, who makes a conscious decision to take a drug, are others, who don't have a choice in the matter. The effect of second-hand cigarette smoke is a classic example. Compared to the effects on the user, the effects on others of alcohol are horrendous. It contributes to higher levels of theft, violent crime, car accidents, and various other alcohol-induced events. The events are likely non-existent for marijuana users.
The US Department of Justice has estimated that the majority of crimes are either caused or influenced by alcohol consumption. Around 40% of murders, 37% of rapes and sexual assaults, 15% of robberies, 27% of aggravated assaults, and 25% of simple assaults had alcohol as a factor. Alcohol is also a major factor in domestic and family assaults, with nearly 500,000 and 120,000 reports respectively.
As for traffic accidents, "In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States." There are even more non-fatal accidents caused by alcohol impairment.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is a much better story. "Not only does medical marijuana legalization not correlate with an uptick in crime, researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas argue it may actually reduce it [because it causes the number of alcohol-related crimes to decrease]." This inverse trend has actually been found in Colorado, where it was legalized in 2012. As for traffic accidents, "Recent reviews have found the increase in risk to be approximately 1.5-3.0, an increase which is substantially lower, however, than that in alcohol-impaired drivers."
In conclusion, here is a graph that compares the harm to the self and to others for various drugs:
Not only does alcohol significantly increase harm to the self, the harm to others is astronomical compared to marijuana. It is easy to see which one is worse to take.
Across virtually all counts, marijuana has been found to be less harmful than alcohol, in both harm to the self, including potential for death, health risk, and dependence risk, and harm to others, including crime and car accident rates. Marijuana is clearly less dangerous than alcohol.
First of all, I'd like to concede a point that marijuana obviously is less harmful than alcohol in. It is less toxic than alcohol. The amount of marijuana you would have to smoke to overdose and die is ridiculous. However, does this mean, just because one will die from drinking too much alcohol faster than taking in too much marijuana, that marijuana is not harmful or less harmful than alcohol? No.
Marijuana is worse for a United States citizen than alcohol. Firstly, it is brain-damaging, can cause growth disorders, apathy in school or work environments, and cancers in places alcohol usually does not, such as the lungs [1,2]. But the major reason why marijuana is so much more damaging in the country is because of the law:
Marijuana is in a special position in our country (and most others). It is an illegal drug. Many of the so-called alcohol harming others more than marijuana statistics are exacerbated by this illegality, as marijuana is illegal. Alcohol is a legal drug. Its problems come from overconsumption. In fact, a light glass of red wine every now and again has been proven effectively good for the human body in a few ways, including but not limited to: heart healthy antioxidants, lowering of cholesterol, etc. . Alcohols (you were going with ethanol I believe) have numerous beneficial uses as sanitizers, fuels, antifreeze, and multiple other solvents . Marijuana has much fewer beneficial uses. Alcohol's problems are only apparent, as I said before, with overconsumption. Marijuana's problems can start before you even smoke it (not that problems don't exist when it is smoked). Marijuana, plain and simply, gets you arrested, and "Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime." . In essence, you are put in jail for the possession or sale of marijuana. (This is true of multiple other countries as well)
Now, let's disregard even the fact that alcohol problems start with overconsumption (for now). You can die more quickly if alcohol is used. But is death worse, or prison? Well, many death row inmates state that they would rather be dead than serve life in prison [6,7,8], where people are raped and beaten . And prisons are flooded with marijuana arrests . As of now, in the United States and most other countries , marijuana is worse than alcohol in terms of harm inflicted. As the terms of the debate dictate, I'll be rebutting your arguments next round. Thanks, and back to you.
The overdose argument was not my only argument. However, considering it's much easier to die or sustain serious health problems from taking too much alcohol than from taking too much marijuana, I'd consider alcohol more harmful.
The health problems that my opponent says that marijuana causes are either misunderstandings, or not as bad as the health effects of alcohol. For example, marijuana's supposed effects on the brain were taken out of context, "Research is full of nuance, and nuance sometimes gets lost in the conversation. The collective freakout over this study had to do with its findings: Certain regions of the brains of people who smoke marijuana are structurally different than people who don't. That got interpreted, at least in headlines and ledes, as marijuana changes your brain... The conclusions were modest in the paper " we never say marijuana causes these changes... The media may have given that impression in headlines, but the study doesn't show causation."
As for apathy, a ridiculous amount of other drugs cause this, so it's hardly groundbreaking. Finally, the supposed marijuana/lung cancer link is exaggerated as well. "Findings from a limited number of well-designed epidemiological studies do not suggest an increased risk for the development of either lung or upper airway cancer from light or moderate use, although evidence is mixed concerning possible carcinogenic risks of heavy, long-term use."
My opponent makes a critical miscalculation here. Even assuming his argument is valid (people taking marijuana consciously choose to get high at the risk of getting arrested, so for them, it isn't harmful), there are more arrests related to marijuana. About 12.5% of only drug related incarcerations concern marijuana (including manufacturing and distribution), while, "According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), 37% [of all convicted] of almost 2 million convicted offenders currently in jail, report that they were drinking at the time of their arrest." So in other words, as I mentioned in the first round, alcohol causes a lot of people to commit crimes. Therefore, marijuana may be illegal, but alcohol gives people an easier time committing crime they wouldn't normally commit. Further, most marijuana arrests are not for life, whereas alcohol related arrests (for murder, rape, or other life crimes) can easily be for life.
And actually, marijuana has a large number of uses outside of being a recreational drug. It has numerous agricultural benefits, including weed suppression, soil improvement in crop rotation, and less need for dangerous pesticides; It can be used to make paper, rope, carpets, caulking, cement, insulation, and many other products.
On top of that, there are the medical considerations, which my opponent overlooks. It can be used to treat and prevent glaucoma, it can help control epileptic seizures, it may decrease anxiety, can help people decrease drinking, and more importantly, contains chemicals that stop cancer from spreading, slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and improves the symptoms of lupus. It also spurs creativity in the brain. So marijuana has a large number of uses in the medical field, including helping treat things better than other current drugs on the market.
Therefore, my opponent's arguments either fail or backfire completely. Marijuana has a large number of uses in both industry and medicine, with considerably more than alcohol in the latter. Further, while taking marijuana itself is illegal, alcohol removes the inhibitions people have with committing crime, making it easier for them to commit crime themselves, oftentimes much worse than simple drug possession. In fact, life in prison is much more likely with alcohol-related crimes than they are with marijuana crimes. Further, alcohol clearly causes more and worse health problems than marijuana does.
It is easy to see that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, both in health effects and potential crime potential.
My opponent claims a large number of drugs cause apathy. This has no relevance to the argument, as the only drugs being discussed are alcohol and marijuana. The apathy caused by marijuana and the high that comes with it affects those at work and school, causing their performance to suffer. To examine these problems, we must look at a country where weed is legalized, in order to predict the outcome on other countries. In the Netherlands, students coming to school high has proved a major problem for schooling systems .
My opponent also claims that just because those who lightly use marijuana do not have much larger of a percentage of dying of lung cancer than the average person, it means that lung cancer is a low risk among marijuana smokers. This is equivalent to saying a light drinker has a low chance of developing liver cancer, because they drink less. Heavy marijuana smokers have a higher chance of lung cancer than nonsmokers. Marijuana contains the same carcinogens as cigarette smoke . Secondhand marijuana smoke exists as well, which can cause a high or elevated risks of cancer for those around the smoker . Alcohol cannot directly impact the surrounding people, and cannot impact them at all if used in moderation. This is not true of marijuana. Marijuana can also cause delusion and hallucinations, as well as heighten risk for schizophrenia .
My opponent, in both of his rounds, brings up many social effects alcohol has, such as drunk driving and an elevated risk of alcohol-induced crime. Marijuana has also been proven deleterious for the driver and has been found to increase risk of accident twofold . Many of the Netherlands' famous coffee bars, in which marijuana is sold, have been found to increase crime rates, including, but not limited to, sex trading and illegal drug trade . The Netherlands has begun to decrease the amount of coffee bars as they see the negative impact marijuana is causing. Marijuana trading in itself is a crime in most countries, and along with arrests, it can also lead to death .
I believe my opponent has slightly misunderstood my attack on marijuana. Alcohol is a drug that is safe in moderation. As I stated before, a small amount of an alcoholic beverage can be healthy for a person (as can a small amount of marijuana, in these areas they are comparable). However, people, not alcohol, cause the arrests. People decide to overdrink. The overconsumption of any drug is a problem. However, the mere presence of marijuana can cause harm for a person. If the overdose argument is valid because it takes less alcohol to overdose than marijuana, this argument is valid as well, because it takes far less marijuana to be arrested than alcohol, and imprisonment is a serious harm to the person, worse than death according to the inmates in the articles provided above.
Therefore, my opponents arguments are weak and do not disparage the damage marijuana is capable of. I hope the voters can see the deleterious effects marijuana has on society, which far outweigh alcohol's effects on the individual. Alcohol could be a safe drug if people used it in moderation, while marijuana, in this day and age, is not safe at all. Thanks, and back to you.
The main problem with my opponent's argument is that he presents no studies backing up his claim (the source he provided in the last round does not deal with the supposed effects marijuana has on motivation). "The evidence for an 'amotivational syndrome' among adults consists largely of case histories and observational reports. The small number of controlled field and laboratory studies have not found compelling evidence for such a syndrome.""In fact, studies done on test subjects in which they were given a high dose of cannabis regularly over a period of days or weeks found that there was no loss in motivation or ability to perform." There is no statistical evidence that marijuana causes apathy or a loss in motivation.
There is actually no difference between heavy marijuana smokers and light marijuana smokers in lung cancer risk as another study reports, "Even very heavy, long-term marijuana users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent marijuana users or nonusers." Yet another study reported that, "Despite these findings, the small number of observational studies fail to demonstrate a clear association between marijuana smoking and diagnoses of lung cancer. Therefore, we must conclude that no convincing evidence exists for an association between marijuana smoking and lung cancer based on existing data." We can assume that if there are no increased lung cancer risks in actual smokers, that a second-hand smoke cancer risk does not exist either.
Finally, as for the asserted psychotic effects of marijuana, "In terms of the model set out in the Introduction, the expected rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia and psychoses did not occur over a 10 year period. This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and the incidence of psychotic disorders based on the 3 assumptions described in the Introduction."" The results of the current study suggest that having an increased familial morbid risk for schizophrenia may be the underlying basis for schizophrenia in cannabis users and not cannabis use by itself." There is no supposed link between marijuana and psychosis.
My opponent has forgotten a quote I provided in the first round, "Recent reviews have found the increase in risk to be approximately 1.5-3.0, an increase which is substantially lower, however, than that in alcohol-impaired drivers." The effects of even a little bit of alcohol are still bad, as evidenced by the chart in source 5. It is clearly much worse to drink and drive than to smoke marijuana and drive. One of the many differences is that marijuana tends to slow drives down, while alcohol tends to speed drivers up, making for a greater chance of accidents.
As for crime, I again point back to my first round. "Not only does medical marijuana legalization not correlate with an uptick in crime, researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas argue it may actually reduce it [because it causes the number of alcohol-related crimes to decrease]." This inverse trend has actually been found in Colorado, where it was legalized in 2012.
The same issues of crime that marijuana presents are also issues with alcohol. Yes, people do make the conscious decision to take marijuana, regardless of whether or not it is legal, but people also make the conscious decision to drink above the amount that is deemed "moderation". The crimes may have been caused by alcohol, but it was people who drank too much alcohol in the first place. Once again, alcohol lands more people in prison (especially for life sentences) and causes more deaths than marijuana does, defeating your argument on both accounts. Yes, marijuana is illegal in most areas, but the overconsumption of alcohol causes illegal acts (overconsumption is also, in some cases, illegal itself). Both stem from a conscious decision made by the person.
My opponent has dropped the majority of my arguments (including the medical benefits of marijuana), and has resorted to arguments that are either factually false, or are based on a misunderstanding of harmful. It takes far less alcohol to overdose, it causes more violent crimes, many of which result in death, vastly increases the rate of fatal traffic accidents, costs more on average per user, and is overall more harmful, while marijuana has much fewer health problems, and may even benefit the healthy person, much less the sick person. Overall, marijuana is far less harmful than alcohol, regardless of the legality of the substance.
My opponent claims there have been no studies that correlated marijuana with apathy. From what I could gather, neither of his sources contained any information more recent than 2012, and his second source contained no information later than 2003, with most information coming from the 1980's. Unfortunately for him, a 2013 study was done showing a drop in dopamine, the brain's "reward chemical", if you will, when using marijuana . A drop in this chemical results in apathy and a lack of motivation. Therefore, marijuana causes apathy.
My opponent also claims, using a 2006 article, that marijuana does not increase lung cancer risk. Unfortunately, many marijuana studies, especially those in the early to mid 2000's, have limited subjects due to the legality of marijuana . Marijuana smoke has been found to alter the body's p53 gene, which 75% of the time leads to lung cancer . Marijuana has been found to alter DNA and cause cancer: "The smoking of 3-4 cannabis cigarettes a day is associated with the same degree of damage to bronchial mucus membranes as 20 or more tobacco cigarettes a day" . If this is legitimate (which it is), then secondhand smoke accounts also are. Marijuana causes direct damage, by itself, to surrounding people, unlike alcohol.
The link between marijuana and psychosis actually does exist. According to a peer-reviewed scientific magazine, "Results from 7 cohort studies showed a 40% increased risk of psychosis in cannabis users compared with nonusers" . This article also says there is "strong evidence" for an increased risk of schizophrenia in marijuana users .
My opponent claims that speeding drivers up is worse than slowing them down. This is not the case. Imagine a person driving through a neighborhood, high on marijuana. A little kid steps out onto the street. The driver's reaction time slows, and bam, dead kid. Both marijuana and alchohol pose a significant danger to drivers, but Marijuana can pose a danger to drivers even when not used .
My opponent fully ignores the information from the Netherlands, even when his own article talks about the crime caused by marijuana in the Netherlands and the steps taken by the Dutch government to stop it by limiting the source of the problem, marijuana . This article, cited by my opponent, also claims that the studies about lower crime in the US have not been long enough and the findings may simply be statistical artifacts .
My opponent still denies the fact that far more alcohol is needed to commit a crime than marijuana. Many people who drink alcohol, or even overconsume, do not commit crimes (I couldn't find a statistic, but anyone who understands drinking will know this). Meanwhile, everyone who smokes, sells, or grows cannabis is committing a crime. They can go to jail. People who drink do not go to jail for drinking. They go to jail for committing crimes. Therefore, marijuana is more legally harmful than alcohol.
My opponent has attempted to disprove my arguments using outdated and sometimes uncredible sources. He continually denies the validity of the legality argument, as it is a trump card in proving marijuana's harmfulness. Marijuana has been proven to have many socially adverse effects, have the same degenerative effects on the body as alcohol (though sometimes slightly weaker, and sometimes slightly stronger) as well as a plethora of other negative effects that alcohol does not have. Both marijuana and alcohol do have some positive effects, although an equal amount of positive effects (which is what they have) would not make marijuana less harmful than alcohol, and therefore give me the win. Although marijuana has been resoundingly proven the more harmful substance, if you, as the voters, remain unsure of the winner of this debate, I win. The burden of proof rests fully on my opponent, and if marijuana is found more harmful, or even equally harmful, I win the debate. Thank you.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: con dropped too much arguments
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con dropped some of Pro's arguments including medical benefit and it's uses. I found that the evidense backing most of Pro's data may have been outdated but was very useful. Con failed to really respond to the alchohol is more dangerous argument thus really giving the debate to Pro here. Con also partially conceded.
Vote Placed by telisw37 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro gave much better arguments, also Pros sources prove much more reliable and of sound mind. Con basically babbled his own opinions and negative attitude, Con also conceded in part, so full win for Con a seven point slam dunk. Anyone hating on a plant is very foolish. And easily manipulated.
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