The Instigator
DCPolitical
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
salam.morcos
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points

Marijuana Legalization

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
salam.morcos
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/10/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 549 times Debate No: 75069
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)

 

DCPolitical

Con

I believe that marijuana should not be legalized for many reasons. The first reason I would like to convey is that the health risks for marijuana outweigh the benefits. Marijuana use has been proven to weaken the immune system, increase risk for pneumonia and lung infection as well as causing psychosis in users that has resulted in death. Long term smoking of marijuana has even been linked to lung cancer. In addition to this, it demotes learning abilities days after use in students and the legalization would increase the number of intoxicated drivers on the road.

http://www.usatoday.com...
salam.morcos

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for raising this very interesting and controversial subject. On a personal note, I want to mention that I am a religious Christian and I strongly don't support marijuana consumption in principal. But as an avid supporter for the separation of Church and State, I believe that it should be legalized. I look forward for an exciting debate.

My opponent didn't set any specific rules for this debate, so I'll assume that the burden of proof (BoP) will be equally shared.

I will support my contention, that marijuana or recreational pot should be legalized, with the following arguments:

1. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco
2. Prohibition ruins innocent lives unnecessarily
3. Prohibition wastes a staggering amount of resources and tax payers' money
4. Prohibition doesn't help reduce use
5. Legalizing marijuana would cut cartel profits
6. Prohibition infringes on the religious freedom of Rastafaris

I could add at least three additional points, but I thought that these key points alone should be more than sufficient to demonstrate to the reader that marijuana should be legalized

1. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco

Scientists agree that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco [1]. Scientific Reports published that "…The potential of death from the typical, recreational use of 10 drugs […] Marijuana was, by far, found to be the safest, even when compared to alcohol and cigarettes." [1] Marijuana also is less addictive than alcohol, tobacco and other substances [2].

2. Prohibition ruins innocent lives unnecessarily

I know someone who was caught smoking marijuana, and had to serve community time. This person, with no prior criminal record, is not only otherwise a law-abiding citizen, but also is extremely intelligent, caring and kind. With this blemish on his record, it became harder for him to get a new job.

This is not an isolated case. A 45 year-old father of seven, with two previous non-violent­ offenses, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for possessing a small amount of marijuana [3]. This is absurd!

The New York Times reports "From 2001 to 2010, the police made more than 8.2 million marijuana arrests; almost nine in 10 were for possession alone. In 2011, there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes put together." [3]

As I mentioned earlier, even if an arrest doesn't lead to a conviction, it will always remain on someone's record making it harder for them to land a new job.

3. Prohibition wastes a staggering amount of resources and tax payers' money

The New York Times reports that "Each year, enforcing laws on possession costs more than $3.6 billion." [3] To enforce these laws, police, prosecutors and court resources are wasted every day. These resources could be channeled to fight more heinous crimes, or at least can be used by the police to build a better relationship with the public.

4. Prohibition doesn't help reduce use

Some worry that if marijuana were legalized, it would lead to an increase in its use. They could argue that these prohibitions are necessary to deter people from using it out of their fear of being caught.

It turned out that the above claim is probably not true. Psychology Today reports that "Since Colorado fully legalized cannabis in 2013, the early reports show that rates of cannabis consumption among teens have continued to decline" [4].

5. Legalizing marijuana would cut cartel profits

Legalizing marijuana in the US could lead to a drop in carter revenues by 22 to 30 percent! [5] Not to mention that these profits would instead be awarded to new legitimate businesses (creating new jobs). The government will also have its share of these profits in the form of tax revenues.

6. Prohibition infringes on the religious freedom of Rastafaris (People practicing Rastafarianism)

Rastafaris believe that smoking marijuana is a spiritual act. Criminalizing it has caused several Rastafaris to be arrested. Most notably, the famous singer Bob Marley, "During his time in London, he was arrested and received a conviction for possession of a small quantity of cannabis" [7].

I argue that this is an infringement on their freedom of religion. I am not alone with this opinion… The Italian Supreme Court allowed Rastafaris to possess greater amounts of marijuana legally [6].

Rebuttal

My opponent stated three reasons to support his claim that marijuana should be prohibited. I summarized his reason as follows:

1. Health risks associated with marijuana consumption
2. Marijuana demotes learning abilities
3. Legalization would increase the number of intoxicated drivers on the road

I agree with my opponent's first two points. However I don't necessarily agree with his third point that legalization would increase the number of intoxicated drivers on the road. Researchers are divided on the subject [8].

But even if all of my opponent's three points were true, I argue that they do not warrant prohibiting marijuana. As I've demonstrated previously, alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than marijuana. If those reasons alone warrant prohibition, then why are alcohol and tobacco legal? How about fast food and its dire health implications? [9] Should we close McDonald's and Burger King? Should we ban boxing because it's dangerous and leads to significant injuries and premature deaths? [10]

Conclusion

I've demonstrated six reasons to show why marijuana should be legal. I also argued that prohibiting marijuana has far more negative consequences than legalizing it would. While my opponent's concerns are valid, I argued they don't warrant the prohibition of marijuana.

I also argue that there are better ways to address the harms associated with marijuana. That is not achieved by banning it, but by establishing effective social programs. Similar programs were catalysts in reducing the consumption of tobacco from 42% to 19% since 1965 [11]. Tobacco was never banned in this period. I also believe that banning something makes it only that more desirable. Legalizing marijuana would eliminate that desire.

I ask the reader to carefully consider the evidence and conclude that marijuana should be legalized.

Thank you.

Sources

[1] http://www.nbcnews.com...

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com...

[3] http://www.nytimes.com...

[4] https://www.psychologytoday.com...

[5] http://www.insightcrime.org...

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[8] http://www.ctvnews.ca...

[9] http://healthyeating.sfgate.com...

[10] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[11] http://www.cdc.gov...

Debate Round No. 1
DCPolitical

Con

I am very impressed with your argument, it is very well thought out and put together.

To continue my stance,

The rate of use has gone up in Colorado since its legalization.
http://www.denverpost.com...

Also, as far as religious oppression of Rastafarians goes, there is already a court precedent that would prevent outlawing marijuana use to be considered as religious infringement. As long as the law applies to everyone, it is legal to ban the use of marijuana. In Employment Division v. Smith (1990) it was ruled by the US Supreme Court that because Oregon's drug laws applied to everyone, they were acceptable; which applies to all state drug laws.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Also, the legalization would be a significant economic opportunity for drug dealers. As possession would not be illegal, it would be more convenient to purchase marijuana from a drug dealer untaxed than it would be to buy it for extra at the store. To continue that thought, the easy access given by the state would make it easier for it to get into the hands of minors.

Lastly, the fact that alcohol and tobacco are legal shouldn't determine whether marijuana should be. I do not deny that alcohol and tobacco can be harmful, but releasing another harmful substance to the public will in no way change that nor have a positive effect. It is simply adding another harmful substance into the mix. Marijuana is more intoxicating than alcohol and tobacco. Upon having a drink, the vast majority of humans will be under the legal limit and be able to drive. Upon "smoking a bowl" of marijuana, one will be intoxicated, or "high". Tobacco does not have intoxicating factors like alcohol or marijuana. It does not take a single drink to get drunk, yet it takes one joint or bowl to get high. Giving the public access to this would increase the number of intoxicated drivers because it is adding another variable to the equation. For example, if X is drinkers and Y is intoxicated drivers, we have X=Y. If we legalize marijuana, then we would have X Z=Y. It would be dangerous and unfair to the American people to legalize marijuana.
http://dui.drivinglaws.org...
http://www.ibtimes.com...
salam.morcos

Pro

I want to thank my opponent for his rebuttal.

In my opening argument, I've highlighted at least six reasons to contend that marijuana should be legalized.

1. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco

My opponent didn't disagree that alcohol or tobacco can be harmful (in fact more harmful that marijuana), but he claims that we shouldn't be "releasing another harmful substance to the public". The point that I was making is to argue that just because something is unhealthy or harmful, this isn't sufficient justification to make it illegal. Yet, health reasons were the main reasons he used in his opening argument to justify prohibiting it. My opponent has to demonstrate that marijuana is very dangerous and very addicting to warrant prohibiting it. Marijuana fits neither of those claims.

My opponent also claimed that driving under the influence of marijuana is more dangerous. This argument is similar to saying that people shouldn't drink altogether because they can end up driving under the influence… or people should be banned from texting altogether because they could potentially text and drive… I don't disagree that driving while being "high" is a crime, but that doesn't justify banning marijuana altogether. The only way this claim would be reasonable if you can show that the marijuana causes people to drive! I think you can agree that this is unreasonable.

2. Prohibition ruins innocent lives unnecessarily

My opponent didn't argue my claim. This is a significant point that shouldn't be ignored.

3. Prohibition wastes a staggering amount of resources and tax payers' money

My opponent again didn't argue my claim. I ask the reader to consider if the blunder of all this money is worth it.

4. Prohibition doesn't help reduce use

My opponent argued that the rate of use has gone up. The good news is that the trend has gone down among teens [1]. Even if my opponent was able to refute this argument, he has to justify that the increase is so significant that it warrants banning marijuana altogether.

Since you mentioned Colorado, let's see what happened in Colorado since legalizations: [2]
a. It generated about $1 billion in sales
b. A police officer muses "We found there hasn't been much of a change of anything. Basically, officers aren't seeing much of a change in how they do police work."
c. Thousands of jobs have been created
d. State collected $60 millions in tax revenue

5. Legalizing marijuana would cut cartel profits

My opponent argued that legalization "would be a significant economic opportunity for drug dealers". I've provided evidence to the contrary. I challenge my opponent to provide any evidence for his claim.

6. Prohibition infringes on the religious freedom of Rastafaris

My opponent stated that "there is already a court precedent that would prevent outlawing marijuana use to be considered as religious infringement". While the source he mentioned refers to peyote, not marijuana, that doesn't change the fact that certain religions are being oppressed. So the question I ask my opponent would be "Is it all worth it?"

[1] http://www.usnews.com...

[2] http://www.cbc.ca...

Debate Round No. 2
DCPolitical

Con

You are correct in saying that I didn't disagree that alcohol and tobacco are harmful; however, that doesn't justify legalizing marijuana. Releasing more intoxicating substances to the public would result in greater use. Intoxicated driving is a problem in the US. To legalize marijuana would be an accident waiting to happen. Furthermore, I never claimed it was more dangerous to drive high than drunk. My claim was that driving under the influence of marijuana is not safe, which is true. My opponent claims "[t]his argument is similar to saying that people shouldn't drink altogether because they can end up driving under the influence" or people should be banned from texting altogether because they could potentially text and drive..."which is an inaccurate representation of my argument. The vast majority of American drivers who may legally drink are legally ok to drive after having a drink or even 2 or 3 depending on their physical statistics[1]. After smoking 1 to 2 grams of marijuana, one will become high. Marijuana is far more intoxicating. You are NOT ok to drive after 1 bowl or joint, yet you are ok to drive after having a drink or even 2. This is a driving risk.

I concede that Prohibition needs reform, but legalizing marijuana is not justified. A first time or even second time offender shouldn't receive jail time for simple possession, they should receive a fine and it should go on their record. If the fine is high yet not too high that people won't be able to pay, that would be reasonable and a money earning alternative to jail time. To say it "ruins innocent lives unnecessarily" however is an exagerration of its current reality. It is known that marijuana is illegal and by choosing not to follow a law is on them, tainting their innocence. A person who willingly commits a crime is not innocent.

Prohibition should be reformed so that it doesn't waste taxpayer money. It is increasingly difficult to pay for all of the US' incarcerated citizens. This is why we should impose a high fine for those caught with possession so they are giving money into the system while not going to jail.

Prohibition has not reduced use and I provided evidence[2] which I will include again to show the increase. My opponent states that the use among teens has gone down which is true, yet still gave misleading information in his previous argument. The use has gone up. My opponent requested that I justify that the increase is so large that it warrants prohibition which seems odd. If the use were so large, it would be legal everywhere already. It is too dangerous to society to legalize it and the increased amount of users is contributing to that[3].

Marijuana legalization would actually affect cartels more than you think. Though many say it takes the market away, it opens up more. [4]

"DEA spokesman Lawrence Payne told NPR last year that 'Sinaloa operatives in the United States are reportedly buying high-potency American marijuana in Colorado and smuggling it back into Mexico for sale to high-paying customers.'"
Sinaloa is a region in Mexico infamous for cartel activity.

"'Between 2013 and 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection saw an increase in seizures of heroin, up 5.2 percent, and methamphetamine, up 9.8 percent,' U.S. Customs and Border Protection media spokesman Carlos Lazo told Fusion."

"Cartels have a competitive advantage. They specialize in violence, and they will not hesitate to use it in order to enforce their product above better quality and other factors."- Javier Osorio

Cartels might not simply give up. You may want to look up their history before claiming that legalizing marijuana will stop the violence.

"The 2014 UN World Drug Reportfound a "large increase" in the number of methamphetamine laboratories seized in Mexico and the United States."

Even if business hits a rough patch, cartels are diversifying the drugs they produce and export to the US because like you and I, they are aware that marijuana legalization has taken place in a couple states and possibly will in a couple more. The cartels have been directly linked to violence and drug use along the US border. They are a severely violent criminal organization which will not simply stop because the US wants to take their business away. Even if their marijuana profits go down, they still make it cheaper and produce numerous other drugs on top of that that they will push.

The decision was not based on an explicitly stated peyote law. The decision determined that if drug laws apply to everyone[5] and do not single out a religous group then they are permissible laws and should be enforced. My opponent argues that this is religious infringement, even though no religuous group is mentioned in the law, but he must also keep in mind that animal cruelty laws may include sacrifices. Isn't that religious infringment as well?

Sources:
[1] http://dui.drivinglaws.org...
[2] http://www.denverpost.com...
[3] http://www.ibtimes.com...
[4] http://fusion.net...
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org...
salam.morcos

Pro

I want to thank my opponent for a good discussion and a good debate.

I have highlighted many reasons why Marijuana should be legalized

1. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco

My opponent highlighted two general reasons to support his claim that marijuana should be illegal:
a. Health impacts
b. Driving intoxicated under the influence

My opponent didn't dispute my claim that marijuana is less harmful and less addictive than alcohol or tobacco. This demonstrates that my opponent's main reason to support his claim is not sufficient to justify banning marijuana.

My opponent however argues that what makes marijuana more dangerous than alcohol and tobacco is that people who consume marijuana, even as little as smoking 1 or 2 grams of marijuana, won't be able to drive. Alcohol on the other hand can take a drink or two and still be able to drive.

My opponent argument doesn't justify prohibiting marijuana. There's no reason to believe that marijuana users can't respect and not drive under the influence. A study shows that "even a strong smoked cannabis dose will affect driving skills for only a few hours" [1].

2. Prohibition ruins innocent lives unnecessarily

My opponent argues that reform is needed, and it would solve this problem. While reform is better than nothing, but as I mentioned earlier, even if an arrest doesn't lead to a conviction, it will always remain on someone's record making it harder for them to land a new job.

The New York Times reports "From 2001 to 2010, the police made more than 8.2 million marijuana arrests; almost nine in 10 were for possession alone. In 2011, there were more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crimes put together" [3].

3. Prohibition wastes a staggering amount of resources and tax payers' money

I've shown previously that "Each year, enforcing laws on possession costs more than $3.6 billion" [3].

4. Prohibition doesn't help reduce use

19% of Americans smoked marijuana
in 2012 alone [2]! Prohibition clearly didn't prevent Americans from smoking. I argue that there are better ways to reduce use.

5. Legalizing marijuana would cut cartel profits

I've shown previously that legalizing marijuana would cut Cartel profits by up to 30% [4]. My opponent argues that the Cartel will definitely not give up and try different thing, such as distributing cocaine, meth…etc. I don't disagree that the Cartel would do whatever they can to keep profit, but marijuana legalization will have a major impact, and you can't just ignore it.

6. Prohibition infringes on the religious freedom of Rastafaris. This is simply a fact. My opponent only attempted at justifying it… but I don't see any reason why Rastadaris should be denied their freedom.

I ask the reader to carefully consider the evidence and conclude that marijuana should be legalized.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.canorml.org...

[2] http://www.drugabuse.gov...

[3] http://www.nytimes.com...

[4] http://www.insightcrime.org...

Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by salam.morcos 1 year ago
salam.morcos
@Diqiucun_Cunmin - Ever since I saw your style for providing RFD, I started to provide better RDF's myself. Thanks...
Posted by DCPolitical 1 year ago
DCPolitical
Thank you very much, Diqiucun_Cunmin. This was my first debate and I appreciate the feedback.
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 1 year ago
Diqiucun_Cunmin
ted at justifying the oppression of their freedoms, which is true. Con makes no valid argument that remains unchallenged, so this one goes to Pro.

Other: Pro suggested an alternative to prohibition (social programmes), which is valid, but should not suppport legalisation per se because it could turn out to be less effective than banning. The desirability argument was a bare assertion. Pro does not score any points here,

Overall, most arguments are either tied or won by Pro, so Pro wins arguments.
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 1 year ago
Diqiucun_Cunmin
Prohibition reducing use: This one is tied. Pro argued that teen pot rates went down, which is true, but Con showed that the rate went up overall, so Pro's argument was refuted. However, Con is again lacking at drawing a strong connection between reduction in rates and prohibition, which Pro successfully pointed out. Yet Pro used a few red herrings and a quote based only on the observations of a single police officer in this in the third round, which did not support his case at all. His argument in the final round also failed to demonstrate that prohibition does not reduce use - heck, maybe the rate would be 50% if all states legalised marijuana. Thus this argument is tied.

Cartel profits: As much as I admire Con's efforts here, I'm afraid to say that I have to lean Pro on this one as well. His deduction is fine, and his suggestion that there will be new business opened up for the cartels is also correct, but he failed to demonstrate that there is more business gained than lost. In fact, the study cited by Pro takes these into account. Unfortunately, I have to lean Pro on this one, despite the amount of effort Con put into it.

Religious freedom: This definitely goes to Pro. Con's use of the court ruling did not directly address Pro's concerns because court rulings are based on precedence and the statute book. Con proves that marijuana *can* be banned under religious freedom laws, but not that they *should*, which is Pro's point.

The animal cruelty argument was a poor analogy by Con. Firstly, one could equally argue that both animal sacrifices and marijuana should also be unbanned if these two situations are actually analogous. Secondly, marijuana use in religious ritual does not harm health like sustained use as a recreational drug (i.e. limited harm), while animal sacrifice will certainly be cruel, so the situations aren't even analogous. Pro responded to this argument, albeit with limited clarity, in the last round, by saying that his opponent only attemp
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 1 year ago
Diqiucun_Cunmin
DUIs: Pro points out that researchers are divided on the matter of marijuana leading to more deaths caused by DUI, which is valid. Con also makes a valid point by stating that pot users immediately get high after consumption while the same cannot be said of alcoholics. Pro then uses alcohol and texting as analogies to explain why marijuana shouldn't, like these two, be banned because of the possibility of DUIs. Con succesfully refuted the alcohol analogy, but not the texting one, which remains valid. Eventually, this point goes to Pro as well.

Learning: Although Con's claim that marijuana can hinder learning is correct, he again fails to show that these result lead to a need to ban pot.

Ruining lives: This one goes to Con. Pro has successfully shown that banning marijuana ruins lives, which is true. However, Con successfully refuted this when he pointed out that people who are knowingly violating the law are criminals, and thus should be accountable for such actions as well. Thus Pro's claim that these people are *innocent* is incorrect, and thus Pro fails on this point.

Resources and taxpayer money wasted: Although Pro's claim on this one may not be particularly strong - one could claim that the money spent is worthwhile because it reduces medical expenses on the other hand - Con's refutations were weak. Pro was speaking of the costs of enforcement, but Con suggested removing the jail term, a suggestion that does not reduce the cost of enforcement, only that of the judiciary sanctions. Thus this argument goes to Pro.
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 1 year ago
Diqiucun_Cunmin
Okay, this was a great debate with good points on both sides, and from Pro in particular.

Both sides had good conduct and spelling and grammar, so they tied.

They tie in sources. Both sides cited Wikipedia, which is not a reliable source in a debate setting. The sources cited by Wikipedia should be cited in lieu of Wikipedia itself. The bulk of the remaining sources consisted of media reports of statistics and studies and information sites on both sides, which are of roughly equal credibility, so neither side has a considerable advantage over the other.

Now for each argument.

Health: Con managed to show, successfully, that marijuana is deleterious to health, but missed one important step in the deduction process: Why it follows that prohibition is needed because of these health effects. This was exploited by Pro, who pointed out that Con had not shown the impacts to be heavy enough to warrant banning.

Pro, on his part, pointed out that pot was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. While it does not automatically follow from this that marijuana should be banned - less harmful than legal substances can still be harmful enough; it just means we should ban the legal substances too - Con has the BOP on this sub-argument to show that marijuana is sufficiently harmful, which he did not fulfill, so Pro still wins this one. Con eventually responded to health impacts with the intoxicated drivers argument, which is a different argument altogether and not related to the health impacts of marijuana, and was thus a red herring. Pro wins this argument.
Posted by Diqiucun_Cunmin 1 year ago
Diqiucun_Cunmin
Darn. I realised I'd voted for the wrong side and revoted while writing the RFD. Now I have to rewrite what I've written.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Diqiucun_Cunmin 1 year ago
Diqiucun_Cunmin
DCPoliticalsalam.morcosTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments