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Resolved: Illicit drugs should be decriminalized and regulated by the FDA

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 709 times Debate No: 89643
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (0)




To be clear, the first round is a constructive speech to build your argument. Second and third rounds are rebuttals, and the final round is a final focus detailing to the judges why you won the debate. Please try to stick to the basic format. This will be my constructive.

I affirm the resolution that we should decriminalize illicit drugs and regulate them for the following contentions.

Contention 1: Prison costs

The costs of jailing non-violent drug offenders have pulled a huge chunk out of state and federal budgets. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on December of 2013, there were 1,574,700 people in state and federal prisons. This number may be declining slightly, but we still see a trend in incarcerating non-violent drug offenders’ more than violent criminals. According to the Bureau of Prisons in 2016, 46.5% of all inmates in prisons are there for drug offenses. This kind of incarceration is costly. According to The Hamilton Project, a project started from the Brookings Institute, in 2010, the government shelled out 80 billion dollars on drug related crimes including court costs and incarceration. This means that a resident in America paid on average 260 dollars to keep people in prison. Keep in mind 80 billion dollars is a huge chunk out of the 260 billion dollars we spent on crime in general in 2010, showing that his is a huge percentage we can cut out by de-criminalizing drugs. Cutting out such a huge cost means more money to spend on important policy, such as revitalizing infrastructure and finding alternatives to standard fossil fuels. It’s a no brainer, we should vote pro.

Contention 2: Regulation

It is no secret that drugs can ruin lives. Yet, when we look towards today’s debate we need to realize that legalizing drugs would be the best for the lives of Americans. First, by legalizing drugs we would, then, in turn, regulate drugs to make it safer for someone to ingest. This would mean a safer experience for the consumer. After all, when completely unregulated street drugs are used with unknown ingredients to the consumer, of course, it would cause problems. With the FDA regulating drugs we would then be able to ensure that the components of the drugs would not cause as much harm to the body. This system actually worked for the Netherlands, according to a US News Report article in 2008. The Netherlands has actually decreased the amount of people who have overdosed and even used drugs by regulating them strongly and treating drug abuse as not a crime, but a condition that can be easily solved with proper treatment. Not only this, if we looked at drugs as a viable industry, we would also be able to bolster our economy. The CATO Institute in 2010 has stated that if we were to tax drugs comparable to alcohol and tobacco once they were legalized, we would generate over 40 billion dollars in tax revenue which could also go to paying off the debt or important policy in America. The creation of a private industry in America could also create jobs for people to prosper.

Contention 3: Options besides prison

The options besides prison are innumerable. Considering the effect that prison has on people who commit drug crimes that may be a good thing. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study tracked nearly 405,000 criminals who were arrested for a crime, not necessarily drugs. What was found was that in seven years, over 70% of the prisoners were rearrested. Considering the psychological dependency one has when addicted to drugs, it is logical to think that recidivism would be even higher for those suffering from drug abuse, which goes untreated in jails. There is a solution to the serious drug abusers, which is therapy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, incarceration costs over 20,000 dollars, while treatment of drug abuse only costs about 4,700 dollars. Not only is this option cost effective, but it is effective as well. Dr. McLellan of the University of Pennsylvania has stated that long-term drug treatment is as effective as the long-term treatment of chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension. We can clearly see that this is a viable option as opposed to locking people in jail for a crime.

As clearly shown, the benefits of legalizing drugs are important thus vote pro.

Good Luck!




When it comes to illicit drugs, there is no healthy way to use them. Drugs like cocaine can be lethal the first time through a heart attack even if the user has a healthy heart, and takes a "normal" dosage. It doesn't matter how well you regulate it, it is impossible for the FDA to offer these drugs in a safe format due to their high toxicity meaning a safe dose would be so low it wouldn't give a noticeable buzz. Although people will always find ways to do drugs, this is no excuse for basically giving up because trying to fix the problem is to tiresome. People will also always find ways to rob, and murder, but we do not say to hell with it just because the laws aren't working perfectly. Not to mention that there is a moral obligation to not legalize illicit drugs, as it is a known fact that when something is available to adults (alcohol/cigarettes) it is essentially available to children, and it is also a known fact that as marijuana has been increasingly accepted that the opinions of children have been molded so much by both anti-smoking and pro marijuana propaganda that currently youth would overwhelmingly prefer marijuana to tobacco and see nothing wrong with smoking it. Weed may not be a big deal, but imagine what would happen if the combined public approval of hardcore illicit drugs like heroin and meth, and the increase in ease of access to children as I stated earlier through adults happened as a result of the legalization of illicit drugs. There would undoubtedly be an epidemic of addiction in children, and teens worse than anything in the past. Legalizing illicit drugs would be turning our backs on those poorer than, or those less experienced than us (the children) simply for expedience.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for being patient for my arguments, time for my rebuttals.

R1. Saving Lives

My opponent seems to be under the impression that I support drug use. So, I will concede that I do not, and that drug use can lead to harmful side effects. My argument is aimed to show how legalizing drugs will decrease lives loss from drug abuse. I have already given an example of how the Netherlands legalized illicit drugs with heavy regulation to produce a result of fewer people dying and consuming illicit and harmful drugs. We see this trend because with regulation we are seeing safer drugs as the illegal street dealers are not selling them, the government is. According to a UN document, the legal “coffee shops” where one would find their drug, 400 million euros are generated annually from tax revenues. This is money not going into the illegal street dealers hands, which is a good thing. After all, illegal street vendors of drugs do not have their content tested for its contents. With regulation from the FDA, we will see less harmful chemicals put into these drugs, mitigating its potential to kill. We can see harmful examples of street drugs that are more dangerous than standard marijuana with the intervention of “Molly”, and synthetic marijuana if we turn toward the National Institute of Health. There have been reportedly growing trends in these more dangerous street drugs that are flooding an already dangerous market. If we were to regulate and legalize drugs we would actually be able to stop the spread of such harmful substances by taking money from the street dealers. So while I will agree that drugs should be considered harmful and unhealthy, the more important point in today’s debate is saving lives, which you will vote pro for if you would like to do.

R2. Therapy

There are already anti-drug commercials, however, with increased regulation by the FDA and with a growing trend in people who are more informed about drugs and their harms through school, we can imagine that if it is not working than we need a different solution. This solution is most certainly to legalize drugs. If we do this, we would be able to clearly identify the people who need help with abuse. In the status quo, if people are addicted to drugs, it would mean jail time to tell someone about the problem, at least, in the consumer’s mind. However, by legalizing and regulating drugs, drug abusers would have a clear conscience and would be put at ease when they realize they can speak up about their addictions without being jailed.

R3. Youth

My opponent argues that the resolution will harm children. This is untrue as when we look at the heavy regulations which will be administered by the FDA, which will actually further limit the supply of drugs in the status quo. I have already explained this in my first rebuttal, however, I will explain again. By heavily regulating the drugs once it becomes an industry in the private sector such as taxing and setting an age for when it is legal to consume, we would be diverting money that would have originally just gone to the black market. This would shrink the unregulated illegal drug trade by replacing it with a much safer legal drug trade that is regulated by dose, contents, and safety by the FDA.

R4. Public Opinion

My opponent has brought up the point that we seem to be pro-marijuana and that by legalizing drugs, we would be putting people at risk using a slippery slope argument that states we would eventually start to become more accessible due to lighter opinions about hardcore drugs. This is unlikely given the current state of lobbying against drugs. According to the Center for Responsive Politics police unions, the alcohol, and tobacco industries, and even private prison corporations have all lobbied against legalizing drugs which do change popular opinion of the people and the government. Also, keep in mind the plethora of school programs that are used to show the harms of illicit drugs on the body, which are still popular today. It is reasonable to assume that public opinion on drugs, in general, seem to be low beside the people who actually take them that delude themselves by not weighing the pros and cons.

R5. Current Debate

Since I have established that there will be lives saved as opposed to lost, we need to balance the debate in another way as well. Namely, we must look at the economic gain that I have mentioned in my first and second contentions. My opponent has to address how my economic points do not stand since I have shown that his points on saving lives simply don’t hold water. I will state again that we would be earning a lot through jobs and increased tax revenue which will bolster our economy and provide funding for the important policy that needs to be passed for the benefit of our constituents. If you would like more specific examples, please review my previous arguments mad in my first speech. Also, my opponent has yet to list where he is finding his facts and statistics to back up his points, so he cannot confirm that any of his positions are actually true within actual figures, and not just logical analysis.

As clearly shown, the pro side is clearly winning today's round. I await my opponent’s response. Thank you.




I think it is important to point out that there is a distinct difference between decriminalization ("the lessening of criminal penalties in relation to certain acts") and total legalization. While my opponent is correct that harsh drug penalties have caused prison over crowding, and are not always best for drug addicts, this can, and should be fixed not through total legalization, but by making the penalties harsher on dealers, and lighter on users. Even if my opponent's plan made crack houses into legitimate businesses, it wouldn't change the fact that they are taking advantage people who need help. I think it is a great idea to send addicts to rehabilitation centers rather than to jail, but they would have to go to one. If my opponent had his way an addict could legally continue killing himself, which is unethical as for serious addicts the temptation to do drugs overrides the want to go to rehab, and so they must be forced to. As for lowering drug related deaths by making illicit drugs go through the FDA, the FDA has proven inadequate at handling supplements in the past and as I mentioned in the last round, for most drugs, no matter how pure and well regulated, there truly is no safe dose. Finally, I would like to rebut the accusation that my argument that hardcore drugs would become more socially acceptable if legalized, as weed has recently, is a slippery slope argument, an accusation which I resent, and which is incorrect. A slippery slope argument would be if I said that if marijuana is socially acceptable, soon hardcore drugs will be as well WITHOUT any further actions. However, I made a fair comparison between the legalization of one drug causing it to be socially acceptable and the hypothetical legalization of another, and its implications.
Debate Round No. 2


I apologize to my opponent if I offended you over the slippery slope argument refutation. That being said, here are my refutations.

R1. Moral consequence

My opponent brings up the argument that morally, it would not be right to continue allowing people to “legally kill themselves.” However, I have brought up before how it becomes more apparent to others and to loved ones when someone is abusing drugs when it is legalized. Given the strict laws of today against drugs, it would be completely reasonable to assume that if one were to admit their illicit drug addiction, they would be arrested. Ergo, current penalties for drug-related crimes deter people of actually going to seek treatment. However, if we were to completely legalize drugs with some oversight we would be able to see more people willing to admit that they are addicts or abusers and can receive help.

R2. FDA not good enough

My opponent has not given a statistic or citation of evidence to back up his point that the FDA is not capable enough to handle the regulation of drugs. Regardless of whether portions of drugs can be regulated or not, a perfect solution would be to regulate content and tax it heavily like we do to alcohol and cigarettes. This would not only raise revenue but would also be beneficial to the consumer. The only times the FDA have not done well as far as regulation would be with vitamins and other drugs where they were not given jurisdiction to heavily regulate. With the current drugs on the black market, it would be obvious that not only is heavy regulation needed, but it would also save lives. Also, I would like to challenge my opponent to answer the following question. What better department in the government is there to regulate and distribute drugs besides the FDA? There really is no better way to regulate effectively without it.

R3. “Slippery”

I apologize to my opponent if I had offended you but the argument I make still stands. Simply because drugs are legalized does not mean it will become socially acceptable to have. Remember, many people are already against this resolution for business and for personal reasons. After we legalized alcohol again after the prohibition, there were still bad views of alcohol, but it was still allowed as a choice. I have also shown in my previous argument about how lobbying and anti-drug ads already show drugs in a negative light. What this means is that with heavy regulation and the continuation of people spreading the word against drugs, as well as educating people in school will continue to shine a negative light for currently illicit drugs.

R4. Legalization vs. Decriminalized

At the start of my opponent’s most recent argument he/she explains that total legalization is a poor idea, and that lessening jail penalties for consumers of illicit drugs and strengthening penalties for those who deal drugs is better. However, let us realize that we have solved this problem with the resolution. Since we are taking money from the dealers through a heavier regulated drug market, we are limiting their influence and illegalizing the sale of drugs through any other way then through certain stores. If we assume that a license needs to be held to serve these types of drugs, just like for beer or cigarettes, then we would prevent dealers from having an influence in the first place. Thus, by showing how my opponent’s theory does not hold water, we can see that completely legalizing drugs and then regulating them is the most perfect way to solve the problem. Also, when my opponent brings up that all portion of drugs is dangerous, he is correct, but we are still trying to save as many lives as possible, so even if the drug is being ingested, we are still saving more lives than are usually killed through the current system of penalties for drug crimes.

R5. State of Debate

My opponent has still not shown sources to back up their theories and has not responded to my economic points at this time. Remember, we still need to weigh lives over money, but since the pro side has clearly won on this issue and my other points have been extended throughout this debate, unless my opponent can refute them, they are losing.

Thank you for an interesting debate, I await your response. Good luck!



sorry about cutting it close on the time
First of all, I would like to give some sources to back up my claim of the FDA's incompetence: . Secondly, I would like to talk about economic gains. Originally I did not address economic gain because it isn't worth it to have people taken advantage of, and dying for any amount of money. Legalizing drugs would probably increase government revenue, although the cost of regulating illicit drugs correctly would also add to government expenditures. Even if there was a net gain, there are many other much more ethical ways to increase revenue, and I certainly hope the government is not a point yet where they literally need to sell drugs to pay for stuff. Finally, on the topic of dealers, even if legalizing drugs put dealers out of business, the whole reason people want to put them out of business in the first place is to stop the distribution of drugs, which makes no sense if we are going to legalize drugs anyway. Also, due to the incompetence of the FDA, dealers might legally sell the same poorly made drugs they were selling before. In fact, it is also a good thing in some ways that the drugs they sell aren't perfect. For example, if cocaine was laboratory grade people would overdose way too easily, so many drug dealers will actually add baby powder to their cocaine to weaken it because they don't want to lose customers or be charged with manslaughter.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you, as we approach the end of the debate let us look at the arguments made so far and realize why the pro wins.

R1: Incompetence of FDA

My opponent claims that the FDA is not capable of being able to regulate drugs due to a history of incompetence. While the sources he cited do show some incompetence on the part of the FDA, what we need to realize is that during the time of which these actions are taking place, the general public was against the FDA regulating prescription drugs. Not only this but the evidence provided is years old and since the FDA has become a more infallible department that can regulate drugs. Not only this, but my opponent has not provided a better actor as an alternative so we can only assume that the best organization for this legislation is the FDA. Also, the source of most corruption in the FDA is from big pharmaceutical companies cashing in on new drugs that the FDA approves, and most of those drugs don’t necessarily harm people. Finally, if it turns into a problem we could use future legislation to further guarantee the safety of said drugs.

R2: Lives

Since my opponent no longer has the point that the FDA has no means to regulate the illicit drugs, his point about losing lives also falls. I have shown countless examples and evidence of why the cost of lives will decrease in my previous cases, including incentivizing alternatives to jail time which would decrease drug abuse such as therapy. Not only, this, but since the FDA will heavily regulate the drugs, we will see decreases in abuse and consumption, as well as monitoring the content of said drugs.

R3: Economics

If the livelihood of the people is not in danger, that leaves economics. My opponent states that regulating the drugs would increase government expenditures which would mean that there would be no profit for the federal government. That entire premise is false. I have shown an article from the CATO institute in my first argument showing the fact that even with regulation taken into account there is still a net profit for the federal government if we were to tax it like we would for cigarettes and alcohol. Also, according to a recent Mint Press News article, Colorado, which has recently legalized marijuana with an excise tax of 15%, has seen less crime and has had revenues of millions of dollars to be used for school construction. This kind of money being available proves that on the federal level, we can make more use of this, possibly even fixing our crippling infrastructure. Even if you do not buy this argument, imagine all of the jobs we could create by making a new industry for the everyday consumer. This would incentivize private industry in a safe manner while also promoting safety.

R4: Morality

My opponent brings up the morality of allowing people to kill themselves with drugs, however, let us look at a different question. How can we allow Alcohol to be legal if it also kills people? In fact, according to a Reuters article, a study was done recently by the Independent Scientific Community on Drugs and the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that alcohol was the most harmful drug to society and the individual. According to the World Health Organization, over 2.5 million deaths are directly targeted to alcohol. With these facts in mind, why don’t we illegalize alcohol if it is worse than the illicit drugs? This is because of the mess of the Prohibitionist era, where people rioted and illegal “Speakeasies” were popping up completely unregulated where people bought drinks illegally and with no regulation. At least under the new system proposed alcohol could be regulated by the federal government, which prevents youth from drinking and stops people driving under the influence. This is simply the system I am providing today. We are taking an illegal industry, legalizing it, and putting it under harsh regulations to promote safety while promoting private industry. So, what were the results of the prohibition at the time of its introduction? Well, according to the CATO Institute from the 1920s-1930s, there was a definite increase in the homicide rate, which was when the prohibition was introduced and then subsequently abolished.

R5: The State of the Debate

I have single-handedly addressed every point of my opponent and effectively broken them in today’s round. Not only this, but my opponent has very little evidence to back up his previous points besides his most recent argument, so we must realize who wins today’s argument, which is clearly the pro side.

I would like to thank my opponent for the interesting debate and I await your response. Good Luck!




First of all, I never said that the increased government expenditures due to drug regulation would mean there would not be profit, I just said that the profit would not be worth the lives of addicts. Hardcore drugs can not be taken in moderation like alcohol. One simply does not do crack socially as he might with drinking. My opponent presents an overly idealistic view of a perfectly functioning FDA, and drug dealers who will simply back down when their business is taken away. Regulating illicit drugs doesn't change the fact they are deadly, and legalization would without a doubt increase use. ( " In 2014, when retail marijuana businesses began operating, that in only a year:

" Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 32 percent
" Almost 20 percent of all traffic deaths were marijuana related compared to only
" 10 percent less than five years ago
" Marijuana-related emergency department visits increased 29 percent
" Marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 38 percent
" Marijuana-related calls to the rocky mountain poison center increased 72 percent
" Diversion of Colorado marijuana to other states increased 25 percent") In Colorado, the legalization of marijuana has had negative impacts, and marijuana is comparatively very mild to hardcore drugs like meth or heroin. I have shown that the vastly negative impact of legalizing illicit drugs far out ways the meager benefits of profit, and a very unrealistic FDA taking the place of a drug dealers selling what might actually (due to dilution) be a safer product, and that is why I have won this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by questioneverything2001 2 years ago
It's hard to rationally defend something as irrational as religion. I joined a debate with the same title as the atheist but the other guy just talked about kittens and trolled me. He set the voting period to 420 days too lol.
Posted by blamonkey 2 years ago
How can atheists determine truth from fiction, from someone who does not seem to know the words "ad hominem."
Posted by questioneverything2001 2 years ago
what was it?
Posted by blamonkey 2 years ago
Thanks for a fair debate. The last one I had did not go to well.
Posted by questioneverything2001 2 years ago
Posted by questioneverything2001 2 years ago
GG balmonkey
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