The Instigator
youmils03
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
SylvesterMcBean
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Resolved: The U.S. federal government should legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/13/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,398 times Debate No: 26206
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
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youmils03

Pro

I affirm Resolved: The U.S. federal government should legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use. To clarify, "legalize" means to make something permissible by law. Essentially, the resolution proposes that the government allow matured citizens to purchase and use restricted amounts of cannabis. This round should be weighed on a cost/benefit analysis: if the benefits of legalization outweigh the costs, you vote Aff. Please note that it is not the burden of the Affirmative to define the regulations that would be implemented; all I must prove is that legalization would do more good than harm to the individual.

Contention One: Economic. The legalization of marijuana in the United States will improve the GDP, create jobs, and shrink national debt. Subpoint A: Monetary. According to CNN, every gram of cannabis purchased by society would decrease the national debt by two dollars and forty-seven cents. While that might not sound like much, an estimated 24 million citizens purchasing taxed marijuana minus the costs of regulation and manufacturing would still produce an average of $3.4 billion of annual economic benefit. According to John Mearshiemer, in a crisis like the one that George Bush has created and Barack Obama has failed to noticeably fix, every dollar counts. Legalizing marijuana shrinks the deficit and therefore decreases the need for income taxes. Subpoint B: Legalizing marijuana creates jobs. According to USA Today, legalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use could employ anywhere between 160,000 and 320,000 currently unemployed or under-empolyed individuals. With twenty-three million people currently out of work, the U.S. is morally obligated to enact programs that bring its citizens back to work in a way that is productive and beneficial for society. Subpoint C: Costs of imprisonment. It costs $47,000 to keep one prisoner in custody for one year. With 11% of current marijuana offenders in jail, the status quo not only prohibits economic growth but also promotes economic downturn. By legalizing marijuana, citizens will no longer be placed in custody, which will require fewer tax dollars from regular citizens.

Contention Two: Social. The status quo of keeping marijuana illegal increases other clandestine crime, such as rape and murder. Subpoint A: Focus of attention. By keeping marijuana illegal, police officers waste time and money searching for marijuana offenders. The problem is that these officers, instead of hunting down the murderers, rapers, and genuine offenders, are wasting time trying to find and punish people who really have not violated constitutional law, at least not at the level of the aforementioned offenders. Subpoint B: Violation of law. According to Richard Kloss, keeping the law against marijuana in place does not deter citizens from taking advantage of the black market. The Brookings Institute estimates that the black market is over half as large as the regular market would be if cannabis were legal. The Founding Fathers intended for citizens to adhere to the liberties and regulations given by the Constitution. This can only happen if law at least somewhat meets the desires and demands of society.

Contention Three: Fundamental rights. It makes rudimentary sense only to legalize marijuana as opposed to keeping it criminalized. Subpoint A: Freedom of choice. According to Harold Koh, it is not the responsibility or freedom of the government to decide what enters the lungs of American citizens. As long as there is no effect on other individuals, individuals must be moral actors for themselves in a fast-paced democracy like the one implemented in the United States today. In other words, there is no reason for people not to be able to do what they want as long as they are not harming other people. This is a concept universally shared among analysts and ordinary citizens. Subpoint B: Inconsistency. A recent analysis from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology notes that the effects of alcohol are substantially more dangerous than those of cannabis. Additionally, citizens have a right to smoke tobacco and other non-hash products. Even if marijuana were more dangerous than it actually is, the resolution says that regulations would be in place to mitigate these effects. There is no justification for having alcohol legal and regulated in a balanced country and not marijuana.

For economic, social, and fundamental reasons, please affirm.
SylvesterMcBean

Con

The Affirmative has not demonstrated that the benefits of such an action would outweigh its costs.
Economic Benefit. No economic benefit has been established. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, also an advocate of legalization, estimates that current U.S. production is around 20m pounds per year. At a street value of $1,600 per pound, that comes to a total current market of $32b per year. However, the size of this market depends entirely on the illegality of the product. Reason Magazine, another staunch advocate of legalization, estimates that if marijuana were legal, the price would fall to parity with tobacco at about $2 a pound. The Affirmative would thus take a $32b black market and decimated it to a $44m legal market. It is difficult to see this contraction as an engine of economic growth, or to credit any supposed corresponding gain in jobs.

The Affirmative suggests that the transition would swell the public coffers. But per the Concord Coalition, our national debt exceeds $16T. The federal deficit exceeds $2.6T. Even assuming a confiscatory 50% tax rate, the $32b current market would yield $16b in revenue " paying 0.1% of the debt; 0.62% of the deficit. A post-legalization $44m market, at 50% taxation, would yield $22m in revenue, which is a fraction of a rounding error. This proposal will do nothing of substance to ease our painful budgetary situation. The Affirmative has not met its burden to show the proposal would benefit either the economy or the fisc.

Resource Allocation. With respect, I would suggest reordering "Economic: Subpoint C: Costs of imprisonment," and "Social: Subpoint A: Focus of attention" into a new second category, Resource Allocation. Should we spend scarce resources on jailing marijuana users? On investigating marijuana-related crimes?

First, I would note that the proposition at bar need not pass to address these issues. Many things are illegal which do not give rise to long-term imprisonment imprisonment and its costs. People should not have a license to throw their trash in the street or park in a fire lane. We would not for an instant consider legalizing such behavior on cost grounds. For we recognize that the law has a great range of sanctions at its disposal, from tickets to points to fines (small or large) to classes to probation to short-term jailing. We need not choose between anarchy and the gulag.
Likewise, the fact that felonies exist does not compel us to abolish misdemeanor offenses. A policeman faced with a possible murder and a possible case of speeding should, of course, investigate the murder. A policewoman observing possible arson and possible marijuana possession should, of course, investigate the arson.

But the proposition at bar is not that recreational marijuana use should be subject to far reduced punishment, or that it should stand very low on the scale of law enforcement priorities. It is not that those imprisoned deserve clemency. The proposition at bar is that recreational use should be completely legal.

There is a link between drug use and more serious crimes. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that more than 24% of violent crimes are committed by someone who is using a drug at the time of the crime. This includes 16% of prisoners held for homicides and 14% of those held for rapes. Of those prisoners held on federal drug charges, 15% are also recidivists for violent crime. And 14% of the overall federal prison population was arrested while using marijuana.

The evidence does not support draconian penalties or commando enforcement against recreational marijuana users. But it does caution against making marijuana purely legal, such that it will be in the hands of corporate America to produce, promote, lobby for, and encourage. The Affirmative has not shown that the proposition would improve our resource allocation.

Democracy and Liberty. The Affirmative asserts that the law must "at least somewhat meet[] the desires and demands of society". This is true. And society, in a representative democracy, expresses its wishes through elected representatives. In the current Presidential election, Obama and Romney both oppose legalization, while Gary Johnson has made his support of legalization a banner issue. According to the most recent Reason-Rupe poll, Obama and Romney combine for more than 90% of the vote, and the legalization candidate can expect at most 6%. That hardly demonstrates a burning desire for legalization among the electorate.

The Affirmative states that, "As long as there is no effect on other individuals, individuals must be moral actors for themselves in a fast-paced democracy like the one implemented in the United States today." Yet, as noted in Daniel Carpenter"s "Reputation and Power: Organizational Image and Pharmaceutical Regulation at the FDA," the Food and Drug Administration extensively reviews, approves, or blocks proposed products, and remains the best-liked and most widely approved of agency among the American public. The Affirmative suggests no reason people would expect a right to marijuana more than they have to experimental medicines or other substances deemed unsafe for consumption by the federal government.

Lastly, the Affirmative states that, "There is no justification for having alcohol legal and regulated in a balanced country and not marijuana." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption costs the United States more than $220 million a year in losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking, law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses. The affirmative presents no valid reason to double down on this public health disaster.

Please do not affirm this proposition.
Debate Round No. 1
youmils03

Pro

youmils03 forfeited this round.
SylvesterMcBean

Con

SylvesterMcBean forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
youmils03

Pro

youmils03 forfeited this round.
SylvesterMcBean

Con

SylvesterMcBean forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
youmils03

Pro

youmils03 forfeited this round.
SylvesterMcBean

Con

SylvesterMcBean forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by youmils03 5 years ago
youmils03
Pretty much. I set up a framework in my Aff case that says that the round is weighed on a cost/benefit analysis, so you would have to show that the costs of legalizing and regulating marijuana would outweigh the benefits. If you had a better/different framework, we would debate over the framework as well.
Posted by Samyul 5 years ago
Samyul
So, if i accept this challenge, i will have to debate the fact that marijuana should not be legalized for recreational use?
Posted by Samyul 5 years ago
Samyul
Ok just wanted to clear that up.
Posted by youmils03 5 years ago
youmils03
I would say that your statement is a bit of an oversimplification, but yes; the theory of the debate should probably wind down to whether the government should legalize marijuana.
Posted by Samyul 5 years ago
Samyul
So, if I understand what you are saying correctly, you basically saying, in the simplest form, that the government should legalize marijuana?
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