The Instigator
doldrums
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
OtakuJordan
Con (against)
Winning
13 Points

Psychedelic drugs should be legalized for recreational use.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
OtakuJordan
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/26/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 461 times Debate No: 41292
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (4)

 

doldrums

Pro

Psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, shrooms and the like, are physically harmless and not addictive; therefore, as they pose no inherent threat to the health of a human being, they should be legalized for recreational usage, with practical limits in place.
OtakuJordan

Con

I would like to thank Pro for challenging me to this debate. I look forward to a good discussion

My opponent has presented two reasons o support her contention that psychedelic drugs, or hallucinogens, should be legalized.

1. Hallucinogens cause no physical harm.
2. Hallucinogens are not addictive.

Her contention stands or falls with these two claims.

Argument #1 - Hallucinogens can cause physical harm
There are a number of physical side effects caused by LSD, mescaline and psilocybin/psilocyn mushrooms. These include seizures and abnormal blood pressure.(1) Abnormal blood pressure can lead to other health problems or even be fatal.(2) Seizures, although not usually fatal, can also be quite dangerous.(3)

PCP can cause users to slip into a coma.(4) People who succumb to coma are at a high risk for asphyxiation.(5) PCP users are also susceptible to depression and suicide.(6)

Argument #2 - Hallucinogens can be addictive
While there is little evidence that hallucinogens can cause physical dependence, users can (and often do) build up a tolerance(7) and a psychological dependance upon them.(8)

And so, my opponent's reasons for legalizing hallucinogens are not accurate and her contention fails.

Sources

1. http://www.intheknowzone.com...
2. http://www.mayoclinic.com...
3. http://answers.webmd.com...
4. Ibid., http://www.intheknowzone.com...
5. http://research.ncl.ac.uk...
6. Ibid., http://www.intheknowzone.com...
7. http://www0.health.nsw.gov.au...
8. Ibid., http://www.intheknowzone.com...
Debate Round No. 1
doldrums

Pro

Seriousness of Health Risks

I accept my opponent's statement that hallucinogenic drugs can result in physical harm. This physical harm, however, is not any more severe or detrimental than the possible effects of prescription drugs and other drugs or substances that are used in recreation.

Example #1: Abilify (aripiprazole)

Abilify is a prescription drug; specifically, an antipsychotic often used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other such mental disorders. This and other antipsychotic drugs such as Seroquel, Risperdal, and Zyprexa have been shown to increase blood sugar levels, elevate lipid and cholesterol levels, and promote weight gain.[1] All of these conditions can, over time, lead to other more complex and grave health issues, and even death. Certainly more pressing than this is the longtime neurological damage these drugs can have on a user.[1]

Example #2: Methamphetamine

While not legal, methamphetamine, commonly called meth, is still widely used today. The physical health risks of methamphetamine include extreme weight loss, severe dental problems (“meth mouth”), anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. Chronic methamphetamine abusers can also display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions.[2] Abuse of meth can also result in reduced motor skills and impaired verbal learning.[2]

Example #3: Nicotine/cigarettes

Nicotine is a notoriously harmful substance. While not a technical "drug" in the eyes of many, it is nonetheless an addictive and prevalent substance in today's society. 19% of all people aged 18 and older currently smoke cigarettes[3], the most notable source of nicotine. Smoking has also been directly related to 90% of all lung cancer cases.[4] In addition to these findings, smoking can increase the risk of heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and thyroid disease, amongst other things.

While the consumption of psychedelic drugs does, as my opponent stated, carry some health risks, said risks are inarguably much less serious than those of other drugs and substances, both legal and otherwise, that people abuse in their everyday lives.



Overdoses

Nearly every drug known to man has some risk of overdose, from Vicodin, to heroin, to generic brand Tylenol. The case is different with most psychoactive drugs. There have been no deaths reported from LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) overdose [5], and this is so because the sheer amount of the aforementioned drug that one would have to take to overdose would be nearly unfathomable. The same is true of shrooms, as well as mescaline. It is nearly impossible to overdose on these drugs.

The exceptions to this rule, such as PCP, is where the idea of practical limits would come into play. If legalized, there would be regulation and restraints placed upon the amount of a drug that the individual could possess, and also an age limit would be enforced. An example of this would be marijuana regulations in Colorado. Possession of less than one ounce, by someone aged 21 or older, is no penalty [6]--perfectly legal. Distribution is illegal, as well as cultivation of more than six plants.[6] The same types of restrictions could be placed on the use of psychedelic drugs, limiting both the amount one can posses and also who can posses it, while making distribution punishable as a felony. With a regulated amount of the substance, one would have no greater a chance of overdosing on a hallucinogenic than John Q. Citizen does overdosing on Advil.



Positive Effects of Hallucinogens

Steve Jobs claimed that taking LSD was a positive life-changing experience for him.[7] He is not alone in this sentiment. Many people can attest to this. Hallucinogens have had immeasurably beneficial effects for many who have taken them. They can open the mind and open new gateways for creativity. There are, of course, individuals who have had negative experiences with hallucinogens; but, there are also individuals who have had experiences with negative things such as driving, swimming, et cetera, et cetera. While there are the bad experiences, with these come the positive experiences--the life-changing, mind-opening ones, such as the one Steve Jobs had with LSD.

A commonly held belief is the one that hallucinogens are directly linked to mental illnesses. A Norwegian study conducted from 2001 to 2004 revealed that there was no connection between psychoactive drug use and increased mental problems; it was actually found that psychedelic drug use was associated with a lower rate of mental health problems.[8] Another study shows that the drug ketamine may be effective in treating depression.[9]


Sources

[1] http://www.naturalnews.com...#

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

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

[4] http://www.healthcentral.com...

[5] http://www.emsvillage.com...

[6] http://norml.org...

[7] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...

[9] http://www.3quarksdaily.com...

OtakuJordan

Con

Thank you for the reply.

Because my opponent did not attempt to rebut my statements about the risk of psychological dependency present in the use of hallucinogens, I will assume that she has conceded this point. Also, because her original argument was that hallucinogens cause zero physical harm and she is now arguing that they cause relatively little harm, voters may consider her to have lost the debate at this point.

My opponent claimed that the effects of LSD and other psychedelic drugs are not more dangerous than prescription drugs, other recreational drugs or cigarettes.

Prescription drugs compared to hallucinogens
The example my opponent used for this claim was Abilify. However, the list of possible side effects for Abilify are far less serious than those of psychoactive drugs. While increased blood sugar levels, elevated lipid and cholesterol levels and weight gain may cause other health complications over time, they are not immediately dangerous unless the victim has pre-existing health conditions.(1) Because Abilify is a prescription drug, clients with these conditions are not able to obtain the drug by legal means anyway.(2)

Contrast this with psychedelic drugs, which have the potential to cause immediate, life-threatening danger with seizures, erratic blood pressure or coma.(3)

Methamphetamines compared to hallucinogens
Because methamphetamines are currently illegal, my opponent's argument has little to no weight. It is pointless to say that because one dangerous and illegal drug is less deadly than another that it should be made legal.

Cigarettes compared to hallucinogens
While nicotine may be extremely dangerous over time, it is still not immediately dangerous. Hallucinogens are. The statistics my opponent presented are a far better argument for the outlawing of nicotine products than the legalization of psychedelics.

On overdosing
Although one may assume that hallucinogen OD-related deaths would be relatively low in places where the drug was properly regulated, this is irrelevant as these drugs can trigger lethal side effects even when there is not enough of the drug present to cause an overdose.

On the positive effects of hallucinogens
A single study is hardly enough to be conclusive and the websites and literature of government agencies around the world still support a connection between psychotropics and mental illness. As for ketamine, it is a legal drug precisely because it has been found to have positive health benefits and lower risks than other hallucinogens. In fact, there are no long term side effects in people who have the drug legally administered to them.(5)

Sources
1. http://www.mayoclinic.com...
2. http://www.abilify.com...
3. http://www.intheknowzone.com...
4. http://www.recovery.org...
5. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
doldrums

Pro

A debate is more about the points made than technicalities pertaining to them. While I somewhat conceded one initial point (not the other, which I intend to address shortly), that does not mean I cannot make further valid points in my argument. Even if I had conceded both initial points entirely, it would not mean I had lost the debate, as the points made in the first round are not the only points that matter or can be made in a debate. I would like my opponent to allow the voters to decide if I have won or lost this debate without his own input or opinion.

Psychological Dependence

My opponent brings up the issue of psychological dependence/addiction in a light that makes the issue seem exclusive to hallucinogens. This is not at all the case. A psychological dependence is applicable to almost anything. An example of this is marijuana. Marijuana, like hallucinogens, is not physically addictive, but can result in psychological addiction with prolonged usage.[1] Other things one can become psychologically addicted to include books, pets, healthy eating, exercise, water, and garbage.[2] Psychological addiction is a risk that comes with almost anything, and therefore the argument that hallucinogens should remain illegal on the premise of psychological addiction holds little to no weight.

Hallucinogens Compared to Other Substances

My opponent states that my argument about methamphetamine compared to hallucinogens in irrelevant, as methamphetamine is not legal. The legality of a product (though methamphetamine was at one point legal) does not deter people from usage, and the same is true with hallucinogens. My point, to be concise, was that in comparison to fellow illegal substances, hallucinogens cause far less harm. The same is true of marijuana; marijuana is slowly becoming more and more accepted in a legal sense.

To address the rebuttals to both my other two examples and make a new point, I would like to discuss my opponent's statement that hallucinogens are immediately dangerous. This is not necessarily true, and is subject to a case-by-case point of view. The health complications he lists""for example, seizures""are the equivalent to potential side effects of prescription drugs in that they do not always occur. Oftentimes, people ingest a psychoactive drug and have no negative side effects. Therefore, this argument is flawed, as it is so supremely subjective. My opponent mentions that Abilify and nicotine have risks of health problems in the long term; hallucinogens carry none of these long term risks. My opponent did not refute my statement that Abilify carries the risk of neurological damage.

Lethal Side Effects

My opponent argues that using a hallucinogenic drug can produce lethal side effects, regardless of dosage. This comes with the territory of putting any foreign substances into the body, and it is a risk many are willing to run with prescription and legal medications. The drug Chantix, used to help people quit smoking, has been known to cause serious skin reactions, cardiovascular events, night terrors, insomnia, nervous system disorders, and eye disorders, as well as depression, hostility and suicide thoughts.[3] No drug is without its side effects, and psychoactive drugs are no exception to this rule. To say that hallucinogens should remain illegal because they can have negative side effects is an argument that holds no weight, as countless legal drugs have side effects of the same caliber or worse.

Inconclusive Research

My opponent argues that a single study is inconclusive in regards to determining if there is a link between mental illnesses and use of hallucinogenic drugs. The study I referenced was conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In this study, the researchers analyzed survey data collected between year 2001 and 2004 from over 130,000 randomly selected Americans. Over 22,000 individuals in the study (13%) had taken hallucinogens at some point. Individuals in the study between ages 21 and 64 had tried psychedelics before.[4] The study concluded that there was lack of association between psychedelic drugs use and metal health issues.[4] The same study suggests that the idea the drugs caused mental health problems came from a small number of case studies in which these patients were already suffering some form of mental illness.[5] Granted, this is only a single study, but no evidence can be so simply cast aside and disregarded.

I would like to mention that, to this point in the argument, my opponent has been entirely reactionary, rebutting my points but providing no new arguments of his own.

That being said, I would like to thank my opponent for partaking in what has been a very stimulating and intriguing debate.

[1] http://www.webmd.com...
[2] http://www.cracked.com...
[3] http://news.menshealth.com...
[4] http://www.myglobalvision.com...
[5] http://www.dailymail.co.uk...
OtakuJordan

Con

I presented no arguments in previous rounds because the burden of proof rested on Pro in this debate, as she is arguing for a change in the status quo. I will not present any arguments in this round either. Instead, I shall provide some brief rebuttals and a summary of the debate.

On psychological dependence

My opponent cited cases of strange addictions from the humor site, Cracked.com. Pro went on to say that this was evidence that humans can become psychologically dependent upon almost anything, and that therefore making a substance illegal because it carries a risk of dependence is ludicrous.

However, the APA Dictionary of Psychology defines psychological dependence as "dependence on a psychoactive substance for the reinforcement it provides."(1) The term "psychological dependence" can, therefore, only be used when speaking of the effects of psychoactive drugs such as LSD.

On comparing hallucinogens to methamphetamines
I would like to restate my previous assertion, that proving that one dangerous illegal drug is less dangerous than another does not mean that it should be legalized. If anything, it is simply an argument for why the more dangerous one should stay illegal.

My opponent provided no evidence to back up her claim that the legality of a drug does not deter people from its use.

On the immediate and long-term dangers of hallucinogens
While it is obviously true, as my opponent said, that not every user of psychoactive drugs will suffer from side effects, this does not mean that there is no risk. Unfortunately, whether or not one will suffer from said effects is highly unpredictable, difficult to determine even for those with medical training.(2) Because of this, using hallucinogens is like playing a game of Russian roulette.

I did not try to refute my opponent's statement that Abilify can cause neurological damage because I do not doubt that it is true. However, simply because a prescription drug with known health benefits has certain side effects is no reason to legalize a drug for recreational use. If anything, it is simply an argument for setting higher standards for the pharmaceutical industry.

My opponent is also incorrect in her belief that hallucinogens carry no long-term health risks. Hallucinogens cause such long-term side effects as:
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Impaired thinking ability
  • Depression
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD) -- trailing images, spots, auras, and other visual disturbances; depression, or panic attacks; long after use or perhaps permanent
  • Increased risk of developing schizophrenia or psychotic episodes(3)

Pro tried to argue that prescription drugs can cause death, however she failed to provide an example of a prescription drug that can be immediately fatal. And once again, a deadly prescription drug would not be evidence for the need to legalize psychoactive drugs, but for the need to impose stricter regulations on the pharmaceutics industry.

As for whether or not hallucinogens cause mental illness, we know of at least one meal disorder that is caused directly by the use of psychoactive drugs: HPPD.(4)

Summary

To sum up this debate, my opponent began by arguing that hallucinogens are "physically harmless and not addictive." However, when presented with evidence to the contrary, Pro admitted that psychoactive drugs can be lethal and that users can develop a psychological dependence upon them.

She then changed her argument, saying that psychoactive drugs should be legalized because although they are dangerous, they are no more dangerous than certain prescription drugs (a statement she failed to properly support with evidence).

I would like to close by thanking Pro for being a challenging debate partner. Best of luck.

Sources

1. VandenBos, Gary R. APA Dictionary of Psychology. 1st ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 2007.

2. http://www0.health.nsw.gov.au...

3. http://www.intheknowzone.com...

4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Yraelz 4 months ago
Yraelz
I would be very interested in arguing either side of this resolution with either one of you. If either of you are interested in the future.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Yraelz 4 months ago
Yraelz
doldrumsOtakuJordanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Ultimately I think this debate comes down to which side holds 'offensive' arguments. On face value I buy all of Pro's arguments, but I think there are many offensive arguments which she could also be wielding. These include issues like: a. Poor use of U.S. resources b. The stigma of drug convictions c. Overcrowded prisons d. The generation of drug wars which kill thousands of people annually. As it stands, in the debate, pro doesn't argue any societal benefit. Thus con only needs to promote risk of negative side effects. I think he does this well enough with his final round arguments on psycho-addictive substances and the possible side effects of psychedelic drugs.
Vote Placed by janetsanders733 4 months ago
janetsanders733
doldrumsOtakuJordanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Great job to both debaters! Both had great sources and S&G. However, I would have to say that Con really showed the long-term and short-term effects of Pyschedelic drugs. Any of these drugs are dangerous to someone's mental state, and their awareness. A society where people would be High and not fully aware of anything would be harmful and dangerous. I will vote Con
Vote Placed by Ore_Ele 4 months ago
Ore_Ele
doldrumsOtakuJordanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I was going to give source points to Con for Pro, not only using Cracked, but mis-using it as well (regarding the addictions, as Cracked was talking about other mental conditions which manifest as addictions, not that just anyone may get addicted). But, the weight of all the sources used throughout the debate was sufficient to merit a tie in this field and allow the arguments to do the talking. For arguments, Con answered and refuted all of Pro's points. Pro seemed focused on the "there are worse things out there" but never connected that to why the drugs should be legalized, as Con defended sufficiently that it just means we need tighter standards for other drugs too.
Vote Placed by Guidestone 4 months ago
Guidestone
doldrumsOtakuJordanTied
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Total points awarded:14 
Reasons for voting decision: It was a very interesting debate, and very civil. Grammar errors Pro: 6 Con: 4 As for sources both used some questionable sources such as Wikipedia or cracked. I also feel that Con answered all of Pros objections and reasons. Also, since the burden of proof was on Pro I have to give the convincing arguments to Con.