The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
12 Points

Marijuana Should be Legalized for Recreational Use

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/21/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,196 times Debate No: 37980
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (25)
Votes (5)




This debate will be over the topic of Marijuana legalization. I will be taking the Pro position, meaning I am arguing in favor of the resolution.


Legalized - To be made legal. To not be restricted by law.

Recreational - relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.


Forfeit results in an automatic loss. No semantics. Standard conduct applies.

First round is for acceptance.


Debate Round No. 1


Personal Choice

Marijuana is a personal choice and the government has no business in regulating that of which is a personal choice among humans. The government has an interest in protecting others from external sources, but when a human makes a personal choice that will only affect their own body of their own consent; the government has no business in regulating or even denying someone the decision of acting upon these choices.

Now, you may argue that the government should make marijuana illegal because when humans are high they may be under the influence.

Marijuana is much like alcohol. When used correctly and appropriately everything will go fine and as intended. They are only dangerous when abused. Alcohol can be completely safe, but someone over drinking and getting drunk is the only time when alcohol ever becomes a danger.

Since marijuana is not inherently dangerous when used correctly, the government should not have an interest in making it illegal.

To argue against this would follow under the logic of “well some people are terrible drivers, so we should punish those who do drive correctly and just ban all cars all together since they can be dangerous.”

Obviously this logic is completely flawed.

Humans should have the freedom to make a decision that will only affect them, whether it is bad for themselves or not.

Marijuana Prohibition Is Not Worth It

Instead of illegalizing marijuana and actually making its existence disappear all together, all that really happens is that marijuana goes to the black market, where it is sold to citizens illegally.

This means that despite marijuana actually being illegal, people are still going to be able to get their hands on it, and quite easily at that. Just look around you, I guarantee that you know at least a few people (if not indirectly) that do weed and are pretty open about it. Fact is, people don’t think it’s wrong, and they recognize it as a personal choice with little to no harmful effects.

Seeing this as true, the government spends 7,000,000,000 dollars funding marijuana prohibition in the United States (1.)

That is ridiculous, especially for something that shouldn’t be illegal at all.

In addition, 60-70% of all jail inmates are in there for drug possession(1); Seeing that Marijuana is the most popular and easiest to get drug this would mean a large amount of those inmates cold be free right now.

This helps solve the problem on the prison space issue that has arisen in the United States.


All humans, through their basic dignity that they are born with, should have the right to make a decision that will inherently affect their own body, whether that choice is dangerous or not.

Marijuana directly falls under this category and unlike hardcore drugs, has far less harmful effects on the user, and far less chances of it being dangerous to other people around them.

By keeping marijuana illegal, you degrade our free will to make decisions that will only affect us, while spending a lot of money on marijuana prohibition that could be well spent elsewhere; In addition by legalizing marijuana you free up a lot of jail space which helps solve that problem.

Legalizing marijuana has many benefits for the United States and should therefore be legal.





I thank my opponent for his quick response.
The regulation and restriction of recreational marijuana is justified. Marijuana will provide more harm than benefit to our society.
My contentions:
-Marijuana is harmful and addictive
-Legalizing marijuana would very likely increase the number of abusers manifold.
-The likely effects of marijuana abuse on society can be easily gauged by measuring the harm produced by a similar but legal and widely advertised drug: tobacco
-Can drugs destroy an economic powerhouse such as the U.S.? Yes. It has done so before, and it can do so again
-A large proportion of marijuana users are unconscious of marijuana's risks, therefore their decision to use or abuse it is mostly uninformed

Marijuana is an addictive and, contrary to my opponent's belief, does pose a legitimate and serious threat to the smoker's health. In addition to the apparent harms effected on the respiratory system (due to it being generally smoked), marijuana "impairs short-term memory and motor coordination; slows reaction time; alters mood, judgment, and decision-making; and in some people can cause severe anxiety (paranoia) or psychosis (loss of touch with reality)." [1]
Marijuana abuse severely detriments the abuser's abilities to effectively work or reason. Marijuana is also an addictive.

Despite these facts, the general perceptional trend among youths is that marijuana is a 'safe drug'[2], leading to an increase in its illicit use among youth demographics. According to the Newport Academy, a reputed teen drug-abuse treatment center, the common myths held true by illicit abusers are that marijuana isn't addictive, marijuana is natural therefore harmless, marijuana doesn't cause any problems, and marijuana doesn't make you lose control[3]. These all point to one general and very wrong perception: marijuana is harmless. Does my opponent believe that, when marijuana is legalized, marijuana-selling companies will clarify marijuana's risks? Even tobacco companies don't do this in its multimillion dollar advertising campaigns. What makes you think marijuana companies will?

Something often said by marijuana proponents is: Why in the world is marijuana illegal, but tobacco isn't? Tobacco products pose much greater impairments to health and are much more lethal in terms of mortality. So why is marijuana illegal?
Let us go back 300 years to 18th century China, which had prospered as the wealthiest and most powerful economic unit from the 14th to early 18th century (due to the immense quantity and unique quality of silver and silk within). By the mid-late 18th century, China had deteriorated to a state rife with corruption. Its productivity had taken a massive dive from what it had been decades before, and it was losing massive quantities of silver to the English and other European nations. The cause of this economic and societal deterioration was indisputably opium. Millions either stopped working or were only able to churn out a fraction of the productivity they were capable of prior to smoking opium. The emperor eventually became aware of the nation's opium, it's detrimental effects and inescapable addiction. Opium was decreed unconditionally illegal. The ban was implemented much too late. Officials ignored the law, accepting bribes to help facilitate the black market opium trade. Most of these officials were themselves Opium addicts. The rest is history. By the late 19th century, China had become so weak that when Japan first began its invasions that the world's nations, which had assumed China to be able to easily fend off the Japanese, balked at China's unexpected crushing defeat.
This is the reason marijuana is illegal and tobacco is not. Although it doesn't kill people as tobacco does, marijuana, like opium and other illegal substances, directly affect the brain, destroying most addicts' ability to work, to reason, etc. Millions of potential doctors, lawyers, workers, and entrepreneurs will be lost to marijuana abuse and addiction.
Consider the following excerpt:

"Research clearly demonstrates that marijuana has the potential to cause problems in daily life or make a person's existing problems worse. In fact, heavy marijuana users generally report lower life satisfaction, poorer mental and physical health, relationship problems, and less academic and career success compared to their peers who came from similar backgrounds. For example, marijuana use is associated with a higher likelihood of dropping out from school. Several studies also associate workers' marijuana smoking with increased absences, tardiness, accidents, workers' compensation claims, and job turnover."[6]

The effect of marijuana on productivity and motor/brain functions is VERY real. Imagine marijuana smoking on a scale greater than that of tobacco (43.8million smokers nationwide with 78% of these who smoke everyday[5]). Despite the fact that tobacco companies spend billions on advertisements, the number of illicit marijuana smokers still far exceeds the number of tobacco smokers (Over 83 million Americans [7] over the age of 12). Imagine if we were to legalize marijuana. Marijuana will destroy our economy, affecting more than just the health of the millions of hemp-users, but also the lives of the nation's residents. In fact, due to marijuana's very low mortality rate, we can expect tobacco users to even switch to marijuana, thereby destroying their brains, their motor functions, and their productivity.

Debate Round No. 2



Thank you for your response.

My opponent broke his arguments down into different sections, all to which I will respond to individually.

I would like to urgently point out that my opponent didn’t even attempt to respond to my entire argument on personal choice, which in essence is the most important argument of this debate because if my opponent cannot show that Marijuana should be legalized despite it being a personal choice that does not inherently, negatively affect society as a whole, then he loses this debate.

Since this is the last round my opponent has already dropped the argument.

Marijuana Is Harmful and Addictive

This argument is the most logically unstable argument of them all, for my opponent attempts to argue that humans should not be allowed to do dangerous things.

My opponent goes on about all the negative affects marijuana has on users, and that many users do not tend to know the full affects marijuana may have on their system.

The Argument from Individual Choice

All humans have a right, granted through their basic human dignity, to make any choice that inherently affects themselves, even if that decision is dangerous.

To not grant humans this right is to erode the basic human dignity we are born with, and to also erode are freedoms as individual beings. Not allowing a human to make a choice that inherently affects themselves, no matter how dangerous, is to take control of their lives, and to restrain them. The government’s job is to make a society that has a balance of individual freedom, allowing our human dignity to be respected, while allowing the society as a whole to be prosperous.

Since marijuana inherently only affects the individual taking it of their own free will, it should therefore not be illegal.

In addition to this, the government should not punish others because some are unaware of the dangers of marijuana. It is of their own decision to not study the effects it could have on their body.

Legalizing marijuana would very likely increase the number of abusers manifold

My opponent argues that the legalization would increase the number of abusers of marijuana.

The problem with this argument is that even though the legalization of marijuana may increase the number of abusers, it is still of the individual freedom of these citizens that they choose to make a decision that inherently affects their own bodies, whether harmful or not. Once again, it is up to humans to know and be aware of what they are doing. It is not the government’s job to erode the personal choice humans have, whether harmful or not.

Argument from History

My opponent gives a story on a past Chinese addiction to Opium, destroying the society.

This can’t even compare to marijuana legalization. Far too many questions arise, such as but not limited to:

Did the government regulate this drug at all?

How easy was it to get the drug?

How addictive was this drug?

Did the under-development of the science behind drugs attribute to this?

How was the economy already?

What other variables may have attributed to this?

Then obviously, the biggest one of all: In the story it says the entire working class had basically been destroyed, therefore attributing to the downfall of China.

This would make the bare assertion that if marijuana were to be legalized then the entire working class of America would too, be destroyed. This assertion is unrealistic.

The Argument from Choice

To blame the choices that individuals who use drugs make on the drugs, would be to give a man a free pass from being responsible for his own actions, for you are ultimately blaming his actions on the drug rather this man’s own personal choice to either take the drug, or make the decision the individual made while on the drug.

“If an individual choice is the act of selecting an option from two or more possibilities, then because one may choose to use drugs or not to use drugs, drug use is an individual choice. However, if the choice to use drugs or not to use drugs is subject to external coercion by the force of law, then legislation and the legislature that passed it are constraining individual choice. By constraining individual choice, human dignity is the opportunity cost of the rule of law as the individual is coercively acted upon by the law maker.


drug use is an individual choice in which the agent making the choice is the subject acted upon and the only subject acted upon, the decision to use or not to use drugs is an individual’s right to make for themselves.”


My opponent presented some other arguments such as how many people are unaware of the harmful effects of marijuana, but I have already addressed the other point my opponent made.


My opponent’s key arguments seem to be that since marijuana has the potential to negatively affect the society, it should therefore be illegal. This reasoning is not sound, for many things have the potential to be dangerous, yet are not illegal for they are not inherently dangerous. Since marijuana is not inherently dangerous, it should therefore not be illegal.




I would like to begin this round addressing my opponent's concern over my not directly refuting his arguments. I am not obligated to refute his argument. As long as I can present a coherent case in favor of marijuana legalization, any other case can be superseded by the validity of the ones I develop. My case my or may not directly conflict or address my opponent's case. As it stands, my contentions actually do refute those set by my opponent despite my not addressing my opponent's contentions directly.
I will now bring up several points which my opponent has conceded:
1. Marijuana is harmful and addictive. It destroys worker productivity and potential. My opponent than defaults into the individual choice contention which I will show is irrelevant in a moment.
2. The number of marijuana smokers will increase manifold. I propose the estimate of 100million based on numbers presented in the previous round. This is easily 2/5 of our nation's population
3. Uninformed perspective: let me provide an analogy. A vendor offers a product that is pleasurable to use. This product works thus: users who gain first exposure of this product are implanted with an artificial urge (addiction) to reuse the product over and over again. The product also functions as a severely damaging agent to the user's ability to move or think clearly. The buying masses are completely unaware of the product's negative effects. The product's vendors allow the misconception that its product is harmless to spread. Many customers, some even directly opposed to addictive and harmful products, are tricked into first trying and then becoming addicted to the product. Addiction then factors in to the customer's choice to commit repeated patronization. This is choice? Really?

As I have established, drugs like marijuana and opium are lethal to society. In terms of health-related mortality directly attributable to smoking it, marijuana is less harmful than tobacco, a legal substance. Marijuana's lethality is in its ability to severely and permanently detriment a user's motor and cognitive capabilities (conceded by my opponent), incapacitating the abuser's power to work (conceded by my opponent). Since the fact that a massive increase in the number marijuana abusers and the decrease in the abusers' abilities to work are conceded, my conclusion is uncontested: marijuana will severely detriment 2/5 of our economic productivity, effectively destroying our economy. (answer to my opponent's question on China's economic status prior to opium: China was the most powerful nation in the world. Its economic prowess was the largest in the world from the 14th to late 17th century[1].. how is this even relevant?)

Opponent: "Then obviously, the biggest one of all: In the story it says the entire working class...."
I never said this. 'Entire working class'? Quote me. Don't put words in my mouth.
The China example was to show that the destruction of a nation's economy due to a single drug has happened before and is not unrealistic at all.

-Marijuana impairs individuals' ability to function in society
-Marijuana is addictive; many will smoke marijuana
-Marijuana will impair many individuals' ability to function in society.
-Marijuana will destroy our economy

Uncontested: marijuana will destroy 2/5 our economy if legalized. Therefore, marijuana, contrary to my opponent's assertions, does in fact affect more than just the individuals who smoke it. The downfall of an economic output means an aggregate loss in productivity, purchase ability, and sales. Basic economics: decreased sales in one sector means decreased sales in another sector. I will present in detail EXACTLY the way marijuana will destroy our economy:
Example 1: car companies losing millions of buyers will stop producing millions of cars and buy less material, affecting a large number of other companies: steel companies, rubber companies, etc. Now making less money, these companies will fire many workers. These workers are now unable to purchase, meaning less car sales, meaning less steel, rubber, gas, etc. needed. Less materials needed, more are fired, etc. etc.
Example 2: car companies lose ability to produce millions of cars, will stop buying materials from other companies, same cyclical effect of example 1. Materials company lose ability to produce a massive quantity of materials (cotton company for example). To not lose money, these companies need to raise prices (and fire people).. raised prices and decreased production means companies whose products rely on the material will only be able to produce as much as they are able to buy. Increased prices means more money is needed. However, with decreased aggregate sales (marijuana causation) and productivity, the company needs to cut back, fire people, produce less. Many will lose jobs, lose the ability to get jobs, money will be in harsh demand; people will starve.

On what basis does my opponent declare this unrealistic? My opponent refutes my contentions by assertively calling them 'illogical'.

Opponent: "marijuana is not inherently dangerous"
My opponent has been vaguely strewing the adverb 'inherently' everywhere and fails to establish what exactly he means when he does so.

Opponent: "My opponent"s key arguments seem to be that since marijuana has the potential to negatively affect the society, it should therefore be illegal."
Me: This refutation is completely ludicrous. Not only does marijuana have this potential, the probability of this potential being realized is, as according to facts (and my opponent's concessions to my several contentions), proven to be almost completely assured with legalization.
How is this not sound?

Conclusion: I've undermined my opponent's entire argument by solidifying the fact that marijuana WILL almost assuredly affect more than just those who smoke it; meeting my burden of proof against legalization

On to the voters!

Debate Round No. 3
25 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
I forgot to pull this card:
Legalization-> increased production-> immensely increased access -> huge spike in general purchase and use of marijuana. The problem for these 83million user is that despite high demand for it, marijuana is not very easy to access. The frequency most users are able to actually smoke marijuana is very low. Legalization would change everything. According to one of the sites ( I've cited in my first round, somewhere between 70% of tobacco users become addicted. Important factors are: accessibility level of addictiveness. Marijuana is the 6th most addictive substance.
Which would make my case much more compelling. Ouch.
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
So before going into Cons last round here's the way the ballot could go:

I've been hard on Pros personal freedom contention but I feel like while it's really shaky, it stands enough that if Con's R3 doesn't bring back the impacts harming society as a whole (unlikely) I'll vote Pro. Other than that, I'll vote Con.

I'll be shorter on this round, basically Con brings up that the number of users will increase (conceded by Pro) and links it with the harms caused by Marijuana (dropped by Pro). He uses this to create an atmosphere where the legalization of Marijuana harms the economy, satisfying the utilitarianistic criterion I'm supposed to judge this debate by. He doesnt give me any reasonable number for HOW MUCH this is going to hurt the economy (Marijuana "destroying" 2/5ths of the economy is absolutely absurd and not proven by Con) but since Pro didnt extend his 7 billion dollar statistic the only economic affects I have are the intuitive bad ones Con brings up. This is sufficient to negate.
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
Cons comparison of the US to China and its opium problem is completely ludicrous. He cites a card after this that Marijuana affects the brain and explains that this will lead to economic harms due to loss of potential. Con then bizarrely argues that there's a huge amount of Marijuana smokers under the status quo (more than Tobacco) and that legalizing will destroy the economy. First of all, does this not prove that the impacts con brings up don't happen? As a judge I'm not allowed to draw that link but we'll see what Con says. More importantly he doesn't tell me HOW MUCH usage would increase if Marijuana was'll make Cons case hard to weigh.

Back to Pro. Pro extends his personal choice argument but he says once again that the government should not ban something if it "does not inherently, negatively affect society as a whole" but Con drew the link on how the effects on individuals harms society as a whole so Cons arguments stand under Pro's criterion. Pro drops Cons cards arguing Marijuana harms, deferring to personal choice. This is a big blow for Pro but it doesnt lead me to negate yet because I havent seen Cons response. Pro starts to flesh out his personal choice argument now, but once again he argues once again that this happens only if it inherently affects themselves and then that the government needs to balance individual liberty with prosperity...Pro this is playing right into Cons hands. Then Pro goes ahead and concedes that the number of users will rise but this is okay because of individual freedom..Pro, Con didnt make a compelling argument at all about the increase in usage but okay. Pro does a good job showing how Con failed to link the situation of China with that of the US today. Pro cites the great philosopher YYW (shout out!) much too late in the debate and he's given me a criterion other than individual choice already.

Pro doesnt extend his empirical impacts :( Pro if you're gonna argue a freedom framework stick to your guns!
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
Live feed RFD:

I'm not really given a set standard to weigh the round under. Pro tells me I need to value individual freedom, but the also says "The government has an interest in protecting others from external sources" when I'm not really told what this means...this is where Pro needs some kind of moral standard like the NAP or Util or something because this is a pretty vague standard. I don't find the personal choice argument particularly compelling because Pro runs it the wrong way. He argues at the end of his contention that people should have freedom as long as it "affects" only them. Thus if Con overpowers Pros arguments on the negative externalities of Marijuana use I'll negate.

Pros empirical impacts could be lot more compelling. He tells me the government spends 7 billion on prohibition which is good but then he doesn't sell the impact so is this going to help the economy/society? What's the tradeoff (use this money for x) but still numerical data is good. The prison argument desperately needs an impact...So what? Why is this good? HOW MUCH space will be freed up? I think Pro skirts over his best arguments..the war on drugs has been a failure of epic proportions and there are tons of great impacts he could use in this debate but he doesnt touch on them much.

Con says I need to judge using a quasi-utilitarian perspective of cost/benefit analysis. Since Pro argues that we can take out choices if they harm other people then I'll accept this as the way to decide the round. Con starts by dispelling the myths that Marijuana is safe to use by outlining it's harms and arguing that in a scenario where Marijuana is legal corporations aren't going to explain its harms. He compares this to cigarettes, but cigarette smoking while legal has been declining non<x>stop for decades and the harms are widely known. This isn't a compelling comparison, but we'll see what Pro has to say in R3.
Posted by Juan_Pablo 4 years ago
*shouldn't = should
Posted by Juan_Pablo 4 years ago
Beginner, what I believe CryptonZ meant is that marijuana should not be restricted so that it cannot be used at all. I doubt that he implied that there should be no restrictions whatsoever on marijuana use, as alcohol and tobacco smoking don't even enjoy that kind of privilege.

Ultimately you're going to have to ask him if that's what he meant if you don't agree with this interpretation. Personally, I don't think he implied that there should be no restrictions at all on marijuana use.

He also clarifies that this debate shouldn't avoid "Semantic" arguments. I think this is what he meant.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Juan round 1 definitions:
Legalized - To be made legal. To not be restricted by law.

Specified parameters implies a restriction of some form. Pro's side of the resolution is to negate any and all parameters and restrictions. (So uh.. you're simply going to dismiss my economic case even though all indicators point to its likely realization.. thoughts on the economics case? ^-^)
Posted by Juan_Pablo 4 years ago
Just for the record, I don't endorse marijuana for recreational consumption, but I'm of the opinion that it should be legal within specified parameters.
Posted by Juan_Pablo 4 years ago
Beginner, with all due respect, the fact that medicinal marijuana is being endorsed at all by some medical experts indicates that its benefits outweigh its health risks.

Sure, marijuana comes with health risks, just like alcohol and tobacco, but these are all legal within established parameters (you can't drive under the influence and you can't smoke anywhere you like). Marijuana as a recreational drug should be legal too, but within established parameters.

I agree with the resolution and with the argument's made by Pro. Yes, I also had an opinion coming into this debate and, yes, it effected my vote. I also agree with you that marijuana use comes with health risks; I'm not denying that it doesn't. But I found Pro's arguments more agreeable. There isn't a genuinely good reason why we should continue to criminalize simple marijuana use. On a cost/benefit scale, I think keeping marijuana illegal probably injures society more than it helps.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
Juan, read my arguments, don't skim them. Read Crypton's arguments again too. Reevaluate. If you think I lose then, I'd be obliged to support you on your vote. I'm seeing a lot of your construing your own arguments in favor of Crypton. That is not acceptable voting behavior. ^-^
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Deathmonkey7 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides of this debate provided great arguments. In the end Con won out because they had better sources. A great debate and definitely something to think about.
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had too many hard-to-parse sentences.
Vote Placed by johnnyvbassist 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con established the reason for it being illegal. Pro made a good argument from a moral standpoint, but did not do as well at explaining the governmental side as Con. Also conduct goes to Con because of Pro's misquote.
Vote Placed by thett3 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments
Vote Placed by Juan_Pablo 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con demonstrated that marijuana effects the brain (and the body), something I've increasingly come to accept as true over the years. But marijuana is fairly tame as far as drugs go. I certainly wouldn't approve of anyone operating a heavy piece of machinery under its influence. Still, marijuana has some medicinal properties too, so there is at least a small useful side to it. Anyway, Pro better demonstrated that it's not worth criminalizing marijuana use, as doing so forces it to be sold on the black market, which invites added social troubles. Obviously it's no worse than cigarette smoking and the consumption of alcohol - and these are all legal within parameters. Ultimately I sided with Pro on this issue.