The Instigator
shawnburton
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
PoeJoe
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Marijuana should be decriminalized

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
shawnburton
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/9/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,721 times Debate No: 6187
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (3)

 

shawnburton

Pro

I think marijuana should be decriminalized. I will let you start the debate.
PoeJoe

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for this awesome debate challenge. I look forward to debating him.

---- Contention 1: Marijuana is too dangerous ----

As with drunk driving, marijuana is far too dangerous to be legalized.

The Health Canada team reported in December 2007 that cannabis has more toxins than tobacco, another drug that The World Health Organization says accounts for 26% of male deaths in developed countries. In fact, the study concluded that marijuana smoke contained 20 times more ammonia, and five times more hydrogen cyanide and nitrogen oxides than tobacco smoke. In January 2008, Dr. Matthew Naughto and his team reported that marijuana smokers tended to develop lung cancer as much as 24 years earlier than tobacco users. In July 2007, the popular medical research journal, The Lancet, published an article that concluded that cannabis users had a 41% increased chance to suffer from psychosis. Not to mention, marijuana use has also been linked to depression, schizophrenia, bronchitis, and emphysema.

The experts agree too. Bob Weiner, a Drug Issue Strategist at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, says that, "(The movement against Marijuana has) done a lot to make us safer and it's one of the reasons why we have record low crime numbers, and why we have record low drug abuse." He continues, "Marijuana is the number one drug where teens must seek treatment in hospitals... it's the number two cause of car crashes." Indeed, as much as 16% of injured people from car crashes test positive for the presence of THC in their blood stream (http://www.drugabuse.gov...).

Marijuana is not bad for you? Preposterous! Marijuana, as I have proven, is more harmful than tobacco, a drug that kills 26% of male deaths in developed countries. Thank God marijuana is not more widespread then it is! Thank God not as many people have died. The government needs to step in, just as it steps in for cocaine and heroin.

---- Contention 2: Marijuana is a gateway drug ----

But even if marijuana weren't dangerous in it of itself, we must remember that Marijuana is a gateway drug -- a drug that leads users to even more dangerous drugs.

The 2007 surgeon general agreed to this statement. He concluded that the most common "next step" is cocaine, followed by LSD and heroine. I shall quote my fellow debate.org user LightC: "Marijuana creates a high different from substances like Alcohol, which increases the urge for a greater high that can only be achieved through more harmful drugs."

---- Contention 3: Miscellaneous arguments ---

(1) If legalized, it would be easier for kids to get marijuana. Kids brains are developing, and children who get their hands on marijuana would severely damage their brains.

(2) The debate.org user "liberty" put it best. I shall quote him: "Second hand smoking is something we are aware of as a problem from smoking cigarettes. Imagine the damage of second hand smoking from hash, marijuana, or crack… Public health would be seriously affected and the problems it would cause to non-smokers who annihilate others' smoke would be huge."

(3) Because we know marijuana is a gateway drug, we know that many who try marijuana (as there will be an increased number if it is legalized) will get addicted to harder drugs -- illegal drugs. And that would be bad.
Debate Round No. 1
shawnburton

Pro

My opponent starts off with a strange comparison.
'As with drunk driving, marijuana is far too dangerous to be legalized.'
- smoking marijuana is less dangerous than driving around in a vehicle while drunk.
-smoking marijuana in the comfort of ones house poses no harm to others in the outside environment as drunk driving does. And decriminalizing marijuana does not mean that it is now okay to drive while high. The same as it is not okay to drive while drunk.

It is also important to point out that my opponent is arguing that marijuana should not be legalized, when the debate is about decriminalization not legalization. That is, someone should not get a criminal record for possessing pot or smoking in their homes or other allotted areas. Legalization regards the ability of cultivate, manufacture and distribute the drug without penalty. This is a step further than decriminalization and not the subject of this debate.

My opponent is correct to point out that marijuana does in fact carry a greater number of toxins than tobacco, but failed to say that nicotine in tobacco is far more addictive than any of the toxins in marijuana, thus leading to far more cigarettes being smoked which causes it to be a much more deadlier drug. We cannot label a drug more dangerous than another based on the quantity of toxins in each. The addictive properties must also be taken into account. In fact, most marijuana smokers are less than 30, and never continue the activity for a long enough period for it to have destructive effects on their lungs.

Also, my opponent makes a false claim that marijuana smokers develop lung cancer as much as 24 years earlier than tobacco users. In fact, Dr.Naughton said that marijuana smokers 'may' develop lung cancer earlier, and his study do not bear much weight as Dr.Naughton's full methods will not be released until January due to Blackwell Publishing restrictions. From the abstract of his study, we learn that only 10 subjects were used. This was 10 people that showed up to the lab with recent respiratory symptoms. The symptoms varied between the 10 subjects. There is no mention that these were strictly marijuana smokers. It is possible that they were compound smokers (tobacco + marijuana). Also, the study has not been replicated, is very recent, and has too few participants to draw final conclusions from.

I should also point out that the 10 participants in the study were termed 'chronic regular smokers'. This likely means daily smokers, as chronic tobacco smokers are usually regarded as daily smokers. I feel that this is not a fair comparison. We should compare the reality of the situation. Daily chronic marijuana usage is a rarity in the real world. We should not compare someone that smokes 20 cigarettes a day vs someone that smokes 20 joints a day. This is unrealistic. In the real world, many people smokes 20 cigarettes a day, but I have heard of no one that smokes 20 joints a day. We should compare the realities, and the reality is that since tobacco is much more addictive, more of it is smoked, causing more disease.

Though the evidence is scant for the linkage of marijuana to depression and schizophrenia, it should be mentioned that in no way does the meta-analysis published in the Lancet prove that there is a casual relationship. I have studied neurobiology for 4 years at Memorial University, and leaders in the field are very skeptical of these findings. It should also be noted that those that developed psychosis likely had a predisposition to the illness. Thus, it is impossible to know whether it was due to the drug or whether it was genetic. This is likely the confounding variable that the authors mention in the Lancet.

It should also be noted that marijuana has many positive qualities which medical practices in Canada have now acknowledged. It is used to help pain relief in cancer and arthritis patients. It is also prescribed to those with glaucoma. Marijuana has also been shown to reduce nausea. -(Health Canada)

I should also point out that Canada leads the industrialized world in marijuana use (2007 World Drug Report by the United Nations), and still has a far lower crime rate compared to the US. So it is preposterous to claim that marijuana use results in increased crime rate. I believe it is absolutely ridiculous to jail someone for a petty 'crime' such as marijuana usage. Tax paying dollars should not be spent on locking away pot smokers, when far worse crimes are being committed. There is far too much wasted time spent on tracking down marijuana smokers, which could be shifted toward more severe problems, such as finding serial murderers. Also, if my opponent thinks banning drugs is the way to reduce crime, he should be opting for the criminalization of alcohol. Who are you more likely to see acting violent, someone high on weed or a drunk? The answer is obvious.

Again, I am not opting for the legalization of marijuana but it is completely hypocritical to legalize alcohol and tobacco, and criminalize marijuana.

There is also no concrete evidence that marijuana is a gateway drug, in fact Dr. Naughton who my opponent cited earlier regarded tobacco as more of a gateway drug than marijuana. Sure it is true that those that happen to have done hard drugs, have previously smoked marijuana. But we should not leave out that they had also previously smoked cigarettes, drank beer, and ate hamburgers. Why put the burden on marijuana? Just because someone done something prior to something else, does not mean that the prior activity caused the 2nd activity. This is where my opponent commits a causal fallacy.

The decriminalization of marijuana does not mean that it would go unregulated. Certainly the federal government would outlaw driving under the influence, underage usage, and smoking in public places. Thus, many of my opponents other arguments are irrelevant to the debate.
PoeJoe

Con

I sincerely apologize. I lack the time to respond to my opponent's rebuttal.

As can be seen in my recent satirical debate with beem0r, I support the decriminalization of marijuana (http://www.debate.org...) anyway; I've just been playing devil's advocate.

I concede.

All the best wishes to my opponent!
Debate Round No. 2
shawnburton

Pro

Thanks, and best of luck in your future debates.
PoeJoe

Con

http://freerice.com... - Free Rice now has multiple subjects to chose from.

I dunno... blablabla.

One plus one is two. OH EM GEE!!!! dogs.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
And how I just noticed those comments... interesting..
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"Ragnar_Rahl, you love to taunt me with nonsense in the comments section"

Not just you, I comment on a lot of debates, though "nonsense" is not a rebuttal.

"but you have never challenged me to a debate."
Would you like one?

"
Decriminalization does not facilitate acquiring marijuana for medical use. For instance, in New York it is a civil offense to carry less than one ounce of marijuana. The fine is $100, and the legal repercussion is tantamount to a j-walking ticket."

Decriminalization in the only context I advocated means removal of all legal penalties, not just softening them. Jaywalking is still a crime, regardless of the small penalty.

"
Your interpretation of taxes is childish."
Not a rebuttal.

"There are many benefits to taxing marijuana if it were legalized.
"
Not an enumeration.

"I never said I would deny minors the use of marijuana, but I would support tough penalties for distribution of marijuana to minors."
Which, interferes with the minor's acquisition of marijuana :)

"The right would be reserved by those making the laws. I don't claim that right,"
Stating you reserve a right is claiming it exists, which demands the question of on what grounds :)

"It is significantly easier to acquire marijuana in Miami, and in greater quantities for lower prices than it is in New York City."
So, New York has better law enforcement. What's that got to do with anything?
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
FYI- one ounce equals 28grams. In NY possession of 25g or less is a civil offense. 25g-2oz is a misdemeanor, and 2oz-8oz is a Class A Misdemeanor. In Florida, 20g or less is a misdemeanor. 20g or more is a felony. It is significantly easier to acquire marijuana in Miami, and in greater quantities for lower prices than it is in New York City.
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
Ragnar_Rahl, you love to taunt me with nonsense in the comments section but you have never challenged me to a debate.

Decriminalization does not facilitate acquiring marijuana for medical use. For instance, in New York it is a civil offense to carry less than one ounce of marijuana. The fine is $100, and the legal repercussion is tantamount to a j-walking ticket. However there is no system in place in New York that protects medical marijuana patients. It is not "easier" to acquire marijuana in New York than it is in Florida where possession of an ounce is a felony.

Your interpretation of taxes is childish. There are many benefits to taxing marijuana if it were legalized.

I never said I would deny minors the use of marijuana, but I would support tough penalties for distribution of marijuana to minors. The right would be reserved by those making the laws. I don't claim that right, I simply intelligently advocate legalization.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
"It does not facilitate acquiring marijuana for medical use"

Sure it does. It removes a legal barrier. The rest is up to the market.

"or does it provide the financial benefits a regulated system would."
Financial "benefits?" Do you refer to taxes, i.e. government sanctioned robbery? That may be a benefit to the robber, but not to the marijuana user.

"as it can also make tougher penalties for use outside of the regulated system, like distribution to minors."
By what right do you deny minors the use of marijuana?
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
Legalization is the restricted and regulated use, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana.

Decriminalization is the easing of, or removal of criminal penalties for the (mainly) possession for personal use of marijuana. It does not facilitate acquiring marijuana for medical use, nor does it provide the financial benefits a regulated system would. Legalization is a better choice, as it can also make tougher penalties for use outside of the regulated system, like distribution to minors.

Either option would be better than the current policy, but legalization would tap into the benefits of America's number one cash crop, meaning billions of dollars of tax revenue.
Posted by Ragnar_Rahl 8 years ago
Ragnar_Rahl
wut
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
I think decriminalization should be marijuanaized.
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
PoeJoe
I will accept the challenge after my abortion debate is over.
Posted by PoeJoe 8 years ago
PoeJoe
Waaaaahhh! I'm telling mommy. :P
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Rodriguez47 8 years ago
Rodriguez47
shawnburtonPoeJoeTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
shawnburtonPoeJoeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
shawnburtonPoeJoeTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70