The Instigator
feverish
Pro (for)
Winning
17 Points
The Contender
Alexby1
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Marijuana should have similar legal restrictions to alcohol (or less legal restrictions).

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/6/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,237 times Debate No: 7636
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (5)

 

feverish

Pro

This was originally issued as a challenge to Epicism but is now open to anyone.

Hi,

Greetings to my worthy opponent who I hope has the time to accept this debate.

In most (and perhaps all?) countries Marijuana is subject to more severe legal restrictions and penalties than alcohol. Indeed in USA and UK alcohol is legal (though age restricted) and marijuana is a prohibited substance. I argue that this is wrong and that for a number of reasons Marijuana should in fact have less legal restrictions than alcohol or at least equivalent legal status.

To clarify, for the purposes of this debate:

Marijuana = any derivative or species variant of cannabis sativa or indica, including 'skunk' varieties, in any form; buds, hash, oil etc. for both medicinal and recreational use.

Should = moral incentive.

As my opponent has some experience of debating this general topic, I will allow him the option of presenting his arguments first, if he wishes to. If he would prefer however, he can instead use the next round merely for introductions and to challenge me to start the argument.

I hope that this will be a fun and informative debate.
Thankyou.
Alexby1

Con

On the Con side of this debate, I will be arguing that Marijuana should not have fewer legal restrictions, in particular, that Marijuana should not be subject to similar laws as alcohol.

In order to win, my opponent must prove that the United States has a moral incentive to loosen restrictions on Marijuana, and not an economic, political, or other non-ethical obligation.

Now I will move into my contentions.

FIRST, Marijuana poses a dangerous threat to our nation's security and status as a global superpower. Despite its reputation as a mild, less addictive drug, Marijuana influences behavior, personality, and makes it impossible for abusers to succeed outside their drug-clouded fantasies. David Sims, security consultant and a member of the Dangerous Substances Abuse Panel of the Maryland Governor's Executive Advisory, goes into more detail, reporting that, "Students who smoke marijuana regularly … lose interest in their studies and are not motivated to do their schoolwork. Marijuana can interfere with learning by impairing thinking, reading comprehension, and verbal and mathematical skills. It can impair or reduce short-term memory [and] alter sense of time." {1} This has ramifications beyond individual failures. It is clear that legalizing the drug in question would be highly counterproductive in an era when the United States needs all the bright thinkers and young scientists it needs to succeed in a more and more competitive global economy. With the rise of China, India, and Japan (among other nations) as economic and technological superpowers, we cannot afford to let future generations go to waste amidst the pernicious smoke of Marijuana addiction.

SECOND, Marijuana would physically harm American citizens. Increased Marijuana use would cause an increase in crime and injury because addicts are often unable to control their actions. This directly causes physical harm to themselves and those around them. David Sims goes on to say that, "…drug abuse results in automobile accidents that cause death and serious injury to innocent victims…" He then cites a specific case: "…the railroad engineer from Baltimore whose use of marijuana resulted in his conviction for the death of 16 passengers in January 1987…" {2} There have been a plethora of similar cases to this one, each producing tragic results. In fact, the department of Justice reports that each year, there are 6 times as many homicides, 4 times as many assaults, and around 1.5 times as many robberies under the influence of drugs as there are in order to get money to buy drugs. {3} By legalizing marijuana, we would only be creating a threat to our nation's security.

THIRD, Legalization of Marijuana threatens American values. Whereas this resolution states that the United States has a moral obligation to legalize Marijuana, we in fact have an ethical responsibility to keep all drugs illegal. As dictated by the social contract, the purpose of government is to protect the people. The most important value upheld in the United States Constitution is freedom; to allow Americans to become addicted to Marijuana is to reject this principle and throw away the ideas of the founding fathers. In addition to protecting citizens from increased crime and accidents, this nation must also protect its citizens from themselves. To quote philosopher John Stuart Mill, "The principle of freedom cannot require that one should be free not to be free. It is not freedom to be allowed to alienate one's freedom." {4} Drug addiction is a loss of freedom. Addiction restricts the substance abuser financially and personally, as drug purchase requires continued investments and drug use changes the personality and alters the actions of the user. Because it would be unethical to legalize Marijuana, we cannot affirm.

FOURTH, it follows from my previous contentions that it would be unconstitutional to legalize Marijuana. In the preamble to America's highest law, the founding fathers stated that their document was designed to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty in the United States. By legalizing Marijuana, we would be casting away these goals. Because it negatively influences Americans emotionally, financially, and physically. If liberty is a blessing, then the government has no right to allow its citizens to eradicate this blessing through drug use. In addition, the government would lose much of its credibility of it truly defied the constitution by legalizing drugs. So, in order to uphold our nations constitution and allow our government's credibility to endure, we must reject legalization of marijuana.

IN CONCLUSION, because legalizing marijuana will hamper our nation's ability to compete, hurt American citizens physically, undermine the ethical values upheld in our nation, and specifically those in the constitution, we must negate and keep our country safe. Thank you, and I eagerly await my opponents response.

SOURCES:
{1} http://www.thefreelibrary.com...
{2} See previous note
{3} US Department of Justice, quoted in:
Joseph A. Califano [Drug researcher at Columbia University]. "Legalization of Narcotics: Myths and Reality," March 1997.
{4} John Stuart Mill [philosopher]. "On Liberty," 1859. Online at http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au....
Debate Round No. 1
feverish

Pro

I take the opportunity to welcome my opponent to the site and wish him luck in this and in any future debates.

I will examine my opponent's opening round before posting arguments of my own.

-------------------------
My opponent says that "in order to win" I "must prove that the United States has a moral incentive to loosen restrictions on Marijuana."

I disagree and would like to make this point clear at this early stage.

My resolution states: "Marijuana should have similar legal restrictions to alcohol (or less legal restrictions)."

I am arguing that morally, alcohol is at least as bad or worse for individuals and society. I am not saying whether either substance should have any specific legal status. I am saying that Marijuana should have less restrictions than alcohol.

This could be achieved one of two ways:
1. Loosen current restrictions on marijuana.
2. Tighten current restrictions on alcohol.

I do not intend to advocate one position over the other, merely to prove that alcohol has worse effects on behaviour and health than marijuana therefore the status quo is unfair and immoral.

I reassure my opponent that I will not bring up "an economic, political, or other non-ethical obligation."
---

My opponent says: "FIRST, Marijuana poses a dangerous threat to our nation's security and status as a global superpower."

Well how's that for a political and economic obligation?

----

"[Marijuana] makes it impossible for abusers to succeed outside their drug-clouded fantasies."

Tell that to the many artists, entertainers and even entrepreneurs and billionaires with an excessive weed habit, just the ones who admit to it anyway; rest assured there are many more.

http://coedmagazine.com...

----

My opponent supplies a quote from a security consultant who makes his money demonizing Marijuana. It is about as unscientific and biased a source as I can conceive of.

----
"With the rise of China, India, and Japan (among other nations) as economic and technological superpowers, we cannot afford to let future generations go to waste amidst the pernicious smoke of Marijuana addiction."

Relevance to morality?

----

"Increased Marijuana use"

Every single one of my opponent's assertions makes the assumption that a loosening of legal restrictions would increase the use of marijuana. There is no evidence for this but there is some against:

"There was no immediate increase in cannabis use after 1976"
http://www.tc.columbia.edu...

"UN Drug Office Can't Explain Lower Marijuana Use in Holland"
http://digg.com...

"Dutch Marijuana Use Half That Of America"
http://norml.org...

"statistics show a substantial decline in cannabis use in the Netherlands since statutory decriminalization in 1976"
http://www.sciencedirect.com...

----

My opponent makes some arguments about physical harm and the link of drug use with violent crime. He conveniently doesn't make the comparison with alcohol here.

As my arguments will show the health effects, links with violent behaviour and (especially) automobile accidents make a compelling case that the dangers of marijuana (which I admit exist, although I believe my opponent exaggerates them) pale into insignificance compared to the dangers of alcohol.

----

Regarding 'freedom' and the constitution my opponent makes some truly baffling arguments.

He seems to suggest that banning things promotes freedom and liberty which is a concept that goes way over my head.

"Definitions of freedom on the Web:
* the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints"

Freedom to act without restraint.

A good example being the freedom to smoke a joint without getting locked up.

----------------------

All of my opponent's arguments seem to centre around demonizing marijuana, but he needs to consider the status of alcohol as this is central to the resolution.

I do not suggest that marijuana is any kind of magical elixir or healing wonder drug with no bad effects. On the contrary I think both alcohol and marijuana have good and bad effects, however alcohol has many more negative effects and they are more serious as I shall now argue.

-----------------------

Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

This page from the campaign group SAFER compiles some excellent scientific references on the subject:
http://www.safercampuses.org...

This breaks down several risk factors.

-----

http://news.bbc.co.uk...

This is an excellent article that presents a balanced point of view but although it finds doctors and scientists to support marijuana it can only find laymen to disparage it.

----

The video posted in the top right hand corner of this argument shows a presidential candidate telling a group of students that marijuana is safer than alcohol.

----------------------------

I could go to great lengths to demonize alcohol and list it's many ill effects, but there are three more rounds and I think my opponent has a lot to contend, so I will leave it there for now.

Oh okay then, just a quickie.

"Some of Britain's leading drug experts .....By their analysis, alcohol and tobacco are rated as more dangerous than cannabis, LSD and ecstasy."
http://www.guardian.co.uk...

"Alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable mortaility in the United States"
http://boreal.com...

"There can be both short-term and long-term consequences, even with moderate levels of drinking."
http://www.sciencenetlinks.com...

"This factsheets shows how alcohol contributes to accidents"
http://www.ias.org.uk...

And lastly on violent behaviour the following scientific studies prove the indisputable link:

http://www.bio-medicine.org...
http://www.sciencedirect.com...
http://www.aic.gov.au...

---

Much thanks to my opponent and to readers, looking forward to next round.

Pro.
Alexby1

Con

First off, I would like to make some clarifications about the resolution:

(1) "Marijuana should have similar legal restrictions to alcohol"
This implies that we would be changing the status of Marijuana, not changing the status of alcohol.
(2) "(or less legal restrictions)"
Despite my opponent's definition of this phrase, my interpretation is as follows: marijuana should have fewer legal restrictions than it does as present. This has nothing to do with alcohol.

Therefore, my opponents 'ways this could be achieved' #2 is flawed.
This debate is, according to the resolution, about the legal status of marijuana, not about comparing it to alcohol. I am not defending the present restrictions pertaining to alcohol, only attacking the option of legalizing marijuana.
Now, to my arguments:
---
[1]: I apologize for posting a contention centering around the economy/political success. I would like to rescind this parameter and open the debate to all arguments in favor of or against legalization. I simply overlooked this mistake.

My opponent brings up "many artist, entertainers, and even entrepreneurs and billionaires" who use marijuana. However, this does not refute my contention. His artists and entertainers, of course, will never help us compete with rising powers across the world, and businessmen won't be much better. As stated in my first contention, what the US needs is a culture of academic success and accomplishment. By legalizing marijuana, we would destroy this golden opportunity for success.

David Sims does not make his money "demonizing Marijuana." He is a Maryland state government employee on a drug abuse council. By your logic, the attorney general would be biased because he has an interest in enforcing the law.
---
[2]: As for the physically dangerous aspects of marijuana use: my opponent seems very hung up on comparisons between alcohol and marijuana. This debate, however, focuses on legalizing marijuana and subjecting it to the same restrictions as alcohol. We are debating the ethics of legal marijuana use, not whether marijuana is worse than alcohol. Therefore, my opponents logic here is simply not topical.

This contention does not rely as heavily on evidence about crime, as it does on evidence regarding accidents caused by marijuana. My point was that, while under the influence of marijuana, a person is unable to operate machinery (such as an automobile or a train), and is therefore likely to cause harm to others.
---
[3]: Your definitions of freedom "on the web" (source?) actually support my analysis. "The condition of being free" is the best example of this. According to the ideas of John Stuart Mill, an individual cannot be free to discard their freedom. If the United States allowed its citizens to choose to become slaves, would we really be a free nation? (this is an exaggeration). The same is true with regard to drug use. Because marijuana is addictive,{1} allowing its use would be allowing Americans to reject freedom in favor of drug addiction. It is not freedom to have the option not to be free. Our government should therefore keep marijuana illegal in order to protect its citizens.
---
[4]: My opponent does not truly refute my fourth contention about constitutionality. I would be interested to hear his response.
---
[Marijuana vs. Alcohol]: Again, this resolution should be centered around comparing marijuana current status to its status if it were subject to the same restrictions as alcohol currently is. I agree that alcohol is not a good thing for our country, but I would appreciate it if my opponent would carefully review the resolution: the phrase pertaining to alcohol should only be read as a standard level of restriction to which marijuana would be subject if affirmed.
---
[Increase in Use]: Contrary to my opponent's beliefs, drug use would increase if legalized. My opponents logic for this point does not make sense at all. If there's no punishment for an action, why would people stop performing this action? Doctor Mark Gold reports, "Surveys … find repeatedly that the greatest deterrent to drug use is fear-fear of getting caught, fear of punishment, fear of harm. Without legal sanctions against drugs, we lose a key defensive weapon." {2} By legalizing marijuana, we would only be opening up the road towards increased use.

What we need to look at in this debate is, which is better for America: to impose fewer legal restrictions on marijuana, or to keep the status quo. And the obvious answer is, we must negate and preserve the status quo, because legalizing marijuana will impede our nation's progress in the global community, will cause physical harm to American citizens, and will undermine the government's reputation as a moral and ethical authority by allowing our citizens to reject freedom. My opponent continually insists on comparing marijuana to alcohol, but this has nothing to do with the resolution. Because the US has a responsibility and an incentive to keep marijuana illegal, I see no other option but to negate.

{1} http://www.guardian.co.uk...
{2} http://www.thefreelibrary.com...
Debate Round No. 2
feverish

Pro

Hello, there seems to have been some confusion as to what the topic was and what the resolution meant in this debate.

While I was arguing that marijuana should have equivalent or less legal restrictions than alcohol, my opponent was under the impression that I was merely using the current (rather than variable) legal status of alcohol as an example of the kind of legal status I advocate for Marijuana.

My opponent and I have discussed this matter and agree we are both partially to blame; him for not reading my first round closely enough and myself for not being clearer with the resolution.

By mutual decision we have agreed to post no more arguments on this debate and urge voters to try and make it a tie.
In other words if you are reading this and the debate is tied please do not vote, if you are reading this and either me or my opponent is winning please vote to level out the result. Your cooperation in this would be greatly appreciated.

I will start this debate again soon with a (hopefully) clearer resolution.

Thanks to my opponent for his maturity in this matter and good luck to him in other debates.

Thanks.
Alexby1

Con

I am grateful to my opponent for his gracious conduct despite my shortcomings and the following confusion. I completely agree with his last post, and I too urge the voters to keep this debate a tie.
I hope that my opponent will find a better debate later!
Debate Round No. 3
feverish

Pro

feverish forfeited this round.
Alexby1

Con

Alexby1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
feverish

Pro

feverish forfeited this round.
Alexby1

Con

Alexby1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Alexby1 8 years ago
Alexby1
snelld7:
Though I do agree with you that I messed up in this round, it was because I misunderstood the resolution. Though I would have been happy to give feverish the win, he was gracious enough to call it a tie. Could you please honor these decisions in the future?

Any votes should disregard the arguments and pay attention to the larger situation.
Posted by snelld7 8 years ago
snelld7
Sorry, Couldn't keep keep it a tie..
pro's reason's for alcohol mirroring "weed" were stronger than Con's arguments of "weed" being intolerant. Pro wins...
Posted by Alexby1 8 years ago
Alexby1
Sounds Good
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
Might be an idea if we let the clock run out on subsequent rounds as debates containing forfeited rounds don't show up on the main page.
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
Wow alex, you've completely misunderstood the point of this debate which I thought was spelled out very clearly in my resolution and introductory round.

If I didn't want to discuss alcohol why would I have mentioned it in the resolution?

If you want to debate the legality of marijuana generally I suggest you start your own debate.

In the meantime if you want to sort this mess out then pm me and we'll see if we can agree how to still have a decent debate. If I don't hear from you in the next few hours, I'll just post round three anyway.
Posted by conoscenza 8 years ago
conoscenza
I'd wish I had started the debate. Too bad I can't accept due to the fact that I am pro to this topic.
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
No rush mate, take your time.
Posted by Epicism 8 years ago
Epicism
I'm twitching over the resolution, its just screaming for an awkward style debate! Sounds fun I'll see what I can do but I can't accept till Saturday.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 3 years ago
9spaceking
feverishAlexby1Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: trying to tie this
Vote Placed by Alexby1 7 years ago
Alexby1
feverishAlexby1Tied
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Vote Placed by cbass28 8 years ago
cbass28
feverishAlexby1Tied
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Vote Placed by snelld7 8 years ago
snelld7
feverishAlexby1Tied
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Vote Placed by tribefan011 8 years ago
tribefan011
feverishAlexby1Tied
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