Resolved: Marijuana should be legalized in the United States.
Debate Rounds (4)
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Opening arguments
Round 3: Rubuttals
Round 4: Further rebuttals and conclusion
The rules are fairly standard. Forfeiture is an immediate loss of conduct points. Proper spelling and grammar will be used but occasional lapses are fine. Sources are not required but are strongly suggested. Overall, a spirited and fun debate. I thank whoever accepts.
Contention 1: Making marijuana illegal does not stop people from buying and consuming it.
I use this argument all of the time when debating against gun control. The argument is that having laws limiting guns does not stop criminals from getting guns because they obviously have a much greater personal desire for them. The same is true with marijuana. People who regularly use pot will not let the law get in the way. This argument is very practical and logical, but is it only theoretical? Actually, no. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a national average of 35% of high schools students use marijuana for recreational purposes. The percentage is much higher for adults who legally can smoke pot in 3 states and Washington D.C. Keep in mind, this is a national average in a country where in 47 states, pot is illegal for recreational purposes. So clearly, pot being illegal in most states, doesn't change the fact that people who really want to do drugs are going to do them.
Contention 2: Making marijuana illegal infringes on individual liberty.
I'm not going to try to say that we as individuals have a constitutional right to smoke pot. I do want to make the point however, that it is an exercise of liberty. Oxford Dictionary defines liberty as: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one"s way of life, behavior, or political views. If this is the definition of liberty, then having marijuana illegal is infringing upon individual liberty. Smoking pot is a personal habit and is a certain lifestyle. I believe that if we as a nation believe in liberty, we should not only protect people's religious and legal rights, but also protect their personal habits as long as those habits are not a danger to society.
Contention 3: The War on Drugs has unintended consequences.
Rand Paul, a U.S Senator from Kentucky and a leading 2016 presidential candidate has stated many times that the War on Drugs should end because it has unintended consequences. (To be clear, in this argument I will use the phrase War on Drugs but am still talking specifically about marijuana.) When asked to clarify what he meant by unintended consequences, he said this, "Three out of four people in prison are black or brown for nonviolent drug use. However, when you do surveys, white kids are doing drugs at an equal rate, and they are a much bigger part of the population. So, why are the prisons full of black and brown kids? It is easier to arrest them. It is easier to convict them. They don't get as good of attorneys. And, frankly, they live in the city more than in the suburbs, and so the police are patrolling the city more. But it is unfair. The war on drugs has had a racial outcome, unintentionally, but it has a racial outcome." This statement is completely true. White and black people do marijuana roughly at the same rate and there are much more white people, and yet there are more black people in prison. The tough drug laws minorly affect white people with more means and majorly affects people (usually black or brown people) with less means. Legalizing marijuana would ensure that these people would have better lives and not get prison sentences for smoking marijuana (a non-violent crime).
I look forward to my opponent's opening arguments.
1st Contention ~ Legalizing marijuana makes it more available to the public and therefore will produce more users.
This is pretty logical. Let's say you are a person who always wanted to try marijuana but never got the chance, or simply never wanted to go against the law to do so. One day you walk into a gas station to put $20 in the tank and spot a pack of joints, the chances of you trying marijuana now is much higher because it is no longer illegal and is completely available for you to buy. This may be a make believe scenario but the reality of it is anything but. "In Washington state which, like Colorado, in 2012 legalized marijuana use and limited possession for adults, monthly marijuana use rose by about 20 percent.
2nd Contention ~ Marijuana is a dangerous drug.
I do not mean this in the sense that someone is going to overdose of it. It's marijuana, you don't overdose on it. In fact the only way you could likely die while smoking it is if you choke on the bowl it's sitting in. However this being said marijuana has been linked to heart disease and mouth cancer according to studies. Other side effects are not so obvious, as marijuana has a very strong connection to people developing schizophrenia. This is directly connected to how many times you use it, "Those who were heavy consumers of cannabis at age 18 were over 600% more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia over the next 15 years than those did not take it.". Also, birth defects may occur if a woman is pregnant and decides to smoke marijuana; such as miscarriages, developmental and learning issues, and premature births.
Furthermore, marijuana poses a danger on the roads. People who are smoking and driving are twice as likely to appear in a car accident than those who are not. This shows that marijuana not only is a harm to the user as explained above, but can also be a harm to others around them. Why should we give society another harmful drug to use?
3rd Contention ~ Marijuana is not entirely understood.
There are several studies showing that marijuana has a pacifying effect on the user. It shows a decrease in violent acts and gives someone a kind of "mellow" state. However there are cases where marijuana has caused someone to act incredibly violent, such as the case of a Denver man who, after eating a cookie laced with marijuana, became violent and jumped from the roof of his building committing suicide. His friends said that after he ate the cookie, he began exhibiting hostile behavior. Legalizing a recreational drug that is not entirely known is the same, in my eyes, as a doctor who prescribes a medication of which the side effects are unknown.
4th Contention ~ Marijuana is a proven gate-way drug
This isn't to say that if you try marijuana that you're automatically going straight for heroin, but people who use marijuana do have a higher chance to begin using other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. These drugs are shown to be highly addictive and very dangerous for the user. People often in a way get addicted to the way the high feels, and once they get used to the high they get from marijuana, they will turn to other drugs to satisfy themselves. There are also other studies that show that many marijuana users do other illicit drugs while still doing marijuana. These would all be unintended consequences of legalizing the drug, but it is something we must consider nonetheless.
In conclusion, marijuana is a drug that is not entirely understood yet that has many health risks to the user. It also poses the threat to be harmful to non-users through things like car accidents as well as hostile actions done by the user. Therefore, marijuana should not be legalized as it would not be good for our society.
Over to you pro.
I will focus this round on addressing my opponent's contentions.
Opponent's 1st contention: Legalizing pot makes it more available and therefore usage will increase.
I actually do not deny the reality of this contention. Not only is it logical, it's the straight up truth. I live in Colorado and usage has gone up about 20% since weed has been legalized. However, there are some benefits from this. In 2014, Colorado received $573 million in tax revenues from recreational pot. That's a lot of money for a state government to take in. Now, it's being used to support education, public parks, and highway spending. It's a great way for a state government to help pay off debt and spend on various issues. An again on the point of consumption going up, like I pointed out, smoking pot is a lifestyle and is therefore an exercise of liberty. In my opinion, it's not a good lifestyle, but that does not make it my right or even my obligation to infringe upon the lifestyle of others.
Opponent's 2nd contention: Marijuana is a dangerous drug.
My opponent believes marijuana should be illegal and one of his main points to defend that stance is that it is a dangerous drug. There are many dangerous drugs and many dangerous items that people can and should be able to own. To understand this point, we must look at it in perspective. Marijuana has been proven to be a less risky and less dangerous drug compared to cocaine, tobacco, and even alcohol. Two of those things by the way are perfectly legal with few regulations. This is not to say that marijuana is a good substance, but it is to put this in perspective compared to what is already legal.
Oponent's 3rd contention: Marijuana is not entirely understood.
My opponent claims that despite the fact that most of the time the users of marijuana find themselves in a "mellow" state, there have been instances where people have been violent. Again, perspective is what is required to understand this argument. My opponent even admitted that in most cases, marijuana gives the user a mellow state and does not cause the person to be a violent danger. The same is true with alcohol. There is no mellow state, but most of the time, there is no violence. And with alcohol there is a greater risk of violence than that of cannabis. A study suggests that 40% of all violent crimes involve alcohol. Perspective beats my opponent's third contention.
Opponent's 4th contention: Marijuana is a gate-way drug.
This seems logical, but the proof is mostly public opinion. There is abundant evidence to suggest that this is not true. Here is a quote in an article about the gate-way drug argument: "Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. In fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana -- usually before they are of legal age. There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs." This proves that the gate-way argument is a fallacy. There is correlation of users of harder illicit drugs and marijuana because most of them have tried marijuana first, but that is because that is the first one they encounter. There is no evidence that marijuana CAUSES people to turn to harder drugs. The article also says, "Unfortunately, there is one important way in which marijuana use can result in exposure to other more dangerous drugs. Laws against marijuana have created an unregulated black market, in which criminals control the supply and may attempt to market more dangerous drugs to people who just want marijuana." Clearly, the only reason that marijuana could be a gateway drug is because of the laws criminalizing it and thus causing it to appear on the black market along with more dangerous drugs.
Over to you, con.
I'll go through pro's opening arguments and then proceed on to his rebuttals against mine.
Pro's first contention: Making marijuana illegal does not stop people from buying and consuming it.
This is completely true. I even know this from my own experience in high school, it seemed like at least half my friends were using or had used marijuana at some point. However, these are not good grounds for the legalization of the drug. Why? Because you could use this argument for the legalization of any drug. People still use cocaine, meth, heroin, and other drugs though they are illegal. In reality, making something illegal doesn't necessarily stop people from doing anything. This applies to murder, theft and so on. People have done these things and are still actively doing these things regardless of the fact that they are illegal, but that does not make it right to legalize these actions because we must consider the repercussions of doing so. When it comes to the law, the mentality cannot be, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!".
Pro's second contention: Making marijuana illegal infringes on individual liberty.
Here pro says that since using marijuana is a person habit and can be considered a lifestyle, it infringes on the oxford dictionary's definition of liberty. Pro states that we should protect a person's personal habits"...as long as those habits aren't a danger to society.". In my opening arguments I showed how marijuana not only is a danger to the user but can also be a danger to those around the user (society). To state it plainly, legalizing marijuana simply harms society more than it would do good. One of the main reasons we pay our taxes is for our government to protect us. By legalizing marijuana our government would be exposing us to another unhealthy, dangerous drug, doing the opposite.
Pro's third contention: The war on drugs has unintended consequences.
I feel as though this could be fixed without legalizing marijuana. In fact, if the reason why the arrests seem to be so racist is because that blacks tend to live in the city where it is easier to patrol, and can't afford as good of attorneys, then one can assume that legalizing marijuana is not going to fix this problem. And certainly therefore is not the cause. The police will still end up convicting more blacks than whites based off the reasons stated, if not for drugs then for other crimes.
Now I will move on to pro's rebuttals.
Pro's rebuttal to my first contention:
Pro and I agree on this point. Making marijuana legal will increase the users. Pro weighs in on the benefit of the extra tax money from making it legal. This is a benefit, but in my opinion also helps to further distract the government from cutting spending which is ultimately what needs to happen if we ever want to see a balanced budget again. This annoyance as well as the bad factors involved with marijuana I've previously discussed outweighs this positive.
Pro's rebuttal to my second contention:
Pro concedes that marijuana is a dangerous drug when he compares it to other drugs he deems dangerous, such as tobacco and alcohol. Since he does concede that marijuana is dangerous, then his previous argument in contention 2 where he states, "...but also protect their personal habits as long as those habits are not a danger to society." becomes moot.
I certainly agree that both tobacco and alcohol are dangerous drugs as well. But what I don't understand time and time again after hearing people use this argument is that if you do believe those drugs to be dangerous, why would you want to add another one in with them? If those are a harm already what good will it bring if you add another harmful drug to society?
Pro's rebuttal to my third contention:
I extend the second part of my argument in pro's rebuttal to my second contention. Pro shows that alcohol tends to make people more violent than marijuana does, but I fail to see how this makes it so we should legalize it. Again, if we both agree that alcohol is a harmful drug to society, what good will adding another harmful drug bring? Let's not add on to societies burden but rather try to lessen it!
Pro's rebuttal to my fourth contention:
Pro uses a quote that says in the end, "There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs". And then says that it proves that the gate-way argument is a fallacy. Pro takes a non-conclusive report to give the conclusion that the gate-way argument is false. Aside from this, even though it isn't conclusive, it still supports my argument. It shows that most people who are using harder illicit drugs now initially started with marijuana. It may not be conclusive that marijuana causes people to move on to the next drug, but pro must agree it certainly still supports it.
Pro then talks of the drug market and how other drugs are often marketed towards people who just want marijuana. I could see how that would exist, in fact many of those people who are trying to sell the drugs are previous marijuana smokers. I would also argue that a similar thing happens at parties that people go to. Other drugs often get pushed on you once you're in the door. This forum describes all the different types that can be present.
Over to you again pro.
Pro Contention 1: Making marijuana illegal does not stop people from buying and consuming it.
My opponent has agreed with me on this point, but argues that it is not grounds for legalization of the drug. He says that you could use this argument for the legalization of any drug, such as cocaine, heroin, and meth. However, the drugs my opponent mentioned are dangerous in both the short and long term. All of the ones my opponent listed can kill you, whereas marijuana does virtually no serious short term damage and very little serious damage in the long term. If we're going to make this drug illegal, then to be consistent we have to make alcohol and tobacco illegal because they have also been proven to do more damage. The whole point of this contention is because marijuana does little damage to people, it is not grounds to make it illegal and if it were to be illegal, that does not stop people from buying and consuming it. There is no reason to compare it to harder drugs here because harder drugs are seldom used compared to marijuana and they do a lot of damage.
Pro Contention 2: Making marijuana illegal infringes on individual liberty
Con does not deny the reality of this contention. By Oxford's definition of liberty, making marijuana illegal is an infringement on liberty. Rather than denying this, my opponent says that legalizing marijuana would do more harm than good to society. Except, no it wouldn't. Most people that use marijuana for personal use do not seriously harm others. Of course there are some who do, but that is not grounds to make the drug illegal. By that logic, we should make alcohol and medications with a drowsy effect illegal because they cause more accidents than marijuana. There is some good in making it legal. Individual liberty would be restored, less people would be in jail, and the government would bring in more money because marijuana would be taxed.
Pro Contention 3: The war on drugs has unintended consequences. For the most part, I was talking about racial unintended consequences because the war on drugs disproportionately incarcerates people of color. My opponent simply states that marijuana legalization will not solve this because people of color will be disproportionately incarcerated anyway because like I pointed out, it is easier to charge them and they get stuck with worse attorneys. My opponent should be aware however, that the vast majority of the U.S prisoners are black or brown and are in prison for drug usage. Sometimes they get stuck with long prison sentences that end up ruining their lives. For my opponent to say that ending the drug war would not significantly change the mass incarceration of people of color, he must not be aware of who exactly is in prison today and why. Ending the drug war would almost completely fix the issue of mass incarceration of people of color.
Con Contention 1: Making marijuana legal will increase the users
Yes it is true my opponent and I agree on this point, however I argue that there are benefits from this and that this is more of a cause and effect statement rather than a reason to have marijuana illegal. A benefit of this includes more tax revenue for the federal government. Like I stated, in just one one year, Colorado received 573 million dollars in sales from marijuana and 70 million dollars in tax revenue(This is correcting my statement that there was 573 million in tax revenue) and this is a growing number each year. Now apply that to the rest of the country. Colorado is a small state, so California's revenues will be much larger. This will result in billions of dollars in revenue for the federal government. My opponent argues that this further distracts the government from cutting spending. I would argue that the government is incompetent and is usually distracting itself, but my opponent cannot prove his statement because it is hypothetical. And the argument is weird. Marijuana is a tax that we do not have to raise on all of the country in order to bring in more revenue. What does that have to do with cutting spending? I agree, we should cut spending, but I don't think tax revenues from marijuana interfere with that.
Con Contention 2: Marijuana is a dangerous drug.
Here's Con's first part of his most recent argument for contention 2: "Pro concedes that marijuana is a dangerous drug when he compares it to other drugs he deems dangerous, such as tobacco and alcohol. Since he does concede that marijuana is dangerous, then his previous argument in contention 2 where he states, "...but also protect their personal habits as long as those habits are not a danger to society. 'becomes moot'" Let me clear this up. I did not say that marijuana was a danger to society as my opponent implies. What I was getting at in my argument was that it had risks to it, and we must look at this issue in perspective. So I did not say anything contradictory here. My opponent argues that if you believe that tobacco and alcohol are bad, why would you want to bring marijuana in to the equation? Look, all drugs have risks, but that is no reason to make them illegal. There are pills that reduce pain, alcohol has been proven to have health benefits, and marijuana can reduce stress and help with eye conditions. My point was that we need to look at this issue in perspective. If we have tobacco and alcohol legal, then we should be logical and legalize a drug that has actually been proven to do less damage than both of them.
Con's Contention 3: Marijuana is not entirely understood.
My opponent says, "Again, if we both agree that alcohol is a harmful drug to society, what good will adding another harmful drug bring?" Again, why should a drug be illegal if more harmful drugs are legal? That is the question that I am getting at and many drug war proponents are dodging.
Con's Contention 4: Marijuana is a gateway drug.
In response to the study I provided that debunked this gateway theory, my opponent said, "it still supports my argument. It shows that most people who are using harder illicit drugs now initially started with marijuana." The fallacy here is what I like to call, "correlation, not causation." Just because most people that use harder drugs started with marijuana doesn't mean that marijuana directly leads to using harder drugs. There is correlation there, but there is no conclusive evidence that there is causation, which would be essential in order for m opponent's argument to be true. And I respect my opponent's party scenario in response to my black market argument. The difference between my argument and my opponent's is that mine shows the responsibility of the anti-drug laws for causing trouble in the black market.
To the voters, I have made it crystal clear in this round and this debate that I have won all of the contentions. I want to thank my opponent for accepting this debate. It was interesting because I haven't debated this topic before. I wish my opponent good luck in his future debates!
GottaGorillaForSale forfeited this round.
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