The Instigator
Cody_Franklin
Con (against)
Losing
22 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points

Resolved: The drugs mentioned herein should either become, or remain, legal.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/4/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,625 times Debate No: 9414
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (65)
Votes (9)

 

Cody_Franklin

Con

Round 1 will be for opening statements only, unless Pro wishes to post her arguments at this time (as it would be a bit cleaner if I had a case to attack in Round 2).

Now then, as I'm certain that my opponent is MORE than intelligent enough to understand the topic, definitions will not be necessary.

-Debate Parameters-

My opponent and I will be debating over the legal status of 3 different drugs:

1. Marijuana
2. Ecstasy
3. Tobacco

My opponent and I will only be arguing over these three points, and any extra contentions brought up by either of us should be disregarded; this is to keep the debate centered solely on these drugs; any points about crack, heroine, alcohol, etc. are not permissible in the debate.

The way that a winner will be determined is two-fold:

To determine the legal status of a drug, we will use a cost-benefit analysis; the analysis will be decided on both quantity and quality of the pros and cons presented; because of this, it is up to the debaters to not only provide a number of different pros and cons, but to argue over the magnitude and impact of each; this does mean that, while I may bring up 3 different cons to legalizing marijuana, Lwerd could provide 1 pro, and still win the point, but only if she was able to explain why her single reason bears more weight than my 3 reasons combined; so, quantity matters, but quality does, also; so, I remind my opponent (and myself) that, to keep the debate interesting, we should try to provide a large quantity of quality arguments. :)

Secondly, to win, I'd like to stress that a debater does NOT have to win the argument on ALL 3 drugs; to win the debate, a debater need only win the arguments over 2/3 of the drugs; for example, if I won the debate over Marijuana, but Lwerd won the debate over Ecstasy and Tobacco, she would win the debate (at least, she'd win the points for arguments); I don't want to impose the 'all or none' burden on either of us; I want this to be a genuine discussion, not a win based off of resolutional technicalities.

I don't think there's really too much else to say on the framework; if you disagree with me on this, Lwerd, feel free to PM me or post in the comments section.

But, assuming that you accept this debate, good luck. I'm excited. :)
Danielle

Pro

[ DEBATE PARAMETERS ]

For clarification, my opponent and I will be debating over the legal status of 3 drugs:

1. Marijuana
2. MDMA
3. Tobacco

That said, I'd like to offer the argument that a CBA (cost benefit analysis) should NOT be the sole criteria for whether or not something should be legal. In that case, Con would be suggesting that any alternative with the better CBA should be legal regardless of the moral implications. That is simply not the way in which the United States government operates. We do not determine the legality of something based on how much money it contributes to the state. In order for this to be valid, Con would have to prove that money is more valuable to the nation than the well being or rights of it's people. Because it is very unlikely that Con will be able to establish this absurdity, I offer instead that a CBA can very well be taken into consideration for this debate, but should in no way be asserted as the SOLE criteria.

I agree with the other standards put forth by my opponent; the winner of this debate will have proven that at least 2/3 of the drugs up for discussion should become or remain legal. I'd like to thank my opponent for this challenge and wish him the best of luck for what will seemingly be a very interesting debate!
Debate Round No. 1
Cody_Franklin

Con

Let me begin my clarifying that, as far the ecstasy/MDMA issue, MDMA is generally the primary ingredient in ecstasy, so while the two will probably be used interchangeably, just keep in mind that ecstasy can contain many other components. [http://en.wikipedia.org...]

-The CBA-

When I use the term cost-benefit analysis, my opponent makes a fatal mistake in attacking it; understand that I am not only discussing the financial costs and benefits of legalizing such drugs; one could consider the loss of life to be a cost; the loss of property could be a cost; the loss of basic liberties could be a cost; so, my opponent is setting up a very unreasonable standard by insisting that I must prove money to be more valuable to our government that the lives and rights of the citizens, since that's not what I'm proposing.

Now, on to the good stuff - opening arguments!

1. Marijuana

a. As per my opponent's earlier statement, we can both agree that the life and general well-being of citizens are extremely important, and thus, ought to be considered above all else; unfortunately, in the case of marijuana, a smoker's quality of life and overall well-being are put in jeopardy, making this a cost of the highest concern.

b. Marijuana is often touted as a medical breakthrough, being able to help treatment of diseases that would otherwise leave patients suffering; however, what you may not know is that marijuana could very well accelerate the diseases that it was supposed to be treating; marijuana is a scientifically-proven immunosuppressant, meaning that it has been shown to weaken a smoker's immune system; this is especially deadly for anyone with a preexisting immunodeficiency from things like organ transplants or chemotherapy, ironically one of the primary conditions for which marijuana was listed as a treatment.

c. Even worse is that marijuana has been linked to speed up the progression of HIV to AIDS, among other diseases. Additionally, marijuana can contain multiple carcinogens; this means that not only does marijuana weaken the immune system, but this in turn leads to the increased risk of contracting certain types of cancer. Clearly, the numerous physical costs associated with the 'harmless' use of marijuana cannot be overlooked.

d. The consumption of marijuana, recreational or medical, can lead to some staggering mental disorders, such as paranoia, depression, uncontrollable aggression, bipolar psychosis, and even schizophrenia, all of which can lead to the jeopardizing of not only the life of the smoker, but the lives of the surrounding citizens, as well. Of course, to see things in the short-term, there are also immediate effects, such as disorientation, loss of perception, memory loss, 'antisocialization', and impaired judgment, among other things.

e. While the high brought about from the use of marijuana is enjoyable to those who partake of it, merely enjoying something does not give one a direct right to it, especially when there are greater costs involved. As far as a cost-benefit analysis is concerned, the right to personal pleasure takes a backseat to safety and quality of life; after all, if a person is putting their life in danger, they are also putting their right to personal pleasure in danger as well.

[http://cyber.law.harvard.edu...]
[http://alcoholism.about.com...]
[http://psychcentral.com...]
[http://www.jointogether.org...]
[http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...]

2. Ecstasy/MDMA

a. Common logic for most drugs is that, done in small amounts, or even just one time, there can be no harms. However, this is simply untrue; in the case of Ecstasy, even first-time users can suffer harms to their brain, even in small doses; blood flow in the brain is reduced, reducing brain activity; scientists believe that the malfunctioning memory, among other effects, is related to ecstasy's interference with the regulation of the chemical serotonin, which is said to regulate memory and mood, among other things; this is only the short-term.

b. In the long-term (or with heavy use of the drug), ecstasy can cause depression and anxiety, decrease in memory, etc. The point is, the long-term damage can begin manifesting itself even after just one use.

c. However slight the chance, ecstasy also has the possibility of killing first-time users; and of course, while users might feel as if they are on Cloud 9, the first-time (and long-term) dangers of using ecstasy caution us to put life before enjoyment, once again; clearly, any benefits of ecstasy ("It feels cool") are immediately canceled out by the guarantee of first-time brain damage. The problem of the 'right to pursue happiness' is that it is taken completely out of context. My friends, realize that there is a right to the pursuit of happiness, but there is no right to the pursuit of conscious self-harm; as with any right, this one is not unlimited; one may not experience the damage right away, but simply because damage isn't instant does not mean that it doesn't exist.

[http://www.guardian.co.uk...]
[http://news.bbc.co.uk...]
[http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...]

3. Tobacco

a. Tobacco is one of the more widely-accepted drugs; unfortunately, its social acceptability does not limit its potential for harm; and it has a lot of potential. 30% of all cancer cases are attributed to smoking, with 87% of lung cancer cases being caused by smoking; furthermore, over 1/4, 28% of deaths caused by smoking are credited to lung cancer; a further 26% are credited to respiratory disease. Clearly, smoking, although considered to be legally acceptable, has a great deal of ethical implications. The legal status of tobacco for smoking clearly defaces the sanctity of the right to life by allowing citizens the undue right of self-harm; this goes against the primary duty of the government, which is to protect the people over which it rules.

b. In addition, smoking harms not only the smoker, but anyone in the immediate vicinity; I refer, of course, to secondhand smoke, which can increase the nonsmoker's risk of heart disease by 25-30%, and the risk of lung cancer by 20-30%; additionally, it can cause dangerous complications for infants and minors living with a smoker; such complications include "sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory problems, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children." Illicitly harming your own rights is bad in and of itself, but when you go to the point of causing harm to those around you through the activity, a line clearly must be drawn.

c. Also, the harms of tobacco do not stop with smoking; for chewing tobacco, the effects can include "gum disease, oral cancer, and [an] increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease." Chewing tobacco presents a unique risk, because one may believe themselves to be out of danger simply because they aren't smoking; thus, tobacco is not only physically harmful, but can be potentially deceptive, which means that consumers are often stopped from making fully informed decisions.

[http://quitsmoking.about.com...]
[http://www.washingtonpost.com...]
[http://govinfo.library.unt.edu...]

I have a few more arguments to make, but I don't want to pull out everything straight from the beginning. Plus, though I've been looking forward to this, I felt a little uninspired; I can only hope, Lwerd, that I've given you the challenge you came for. Good luck. :)
Danielle

Pro

[ DEBATE PARAMETERS ]

1. While it is true that MDMA is the main component of Ecstasy, I am arguing in favor of that very component - MDMA. As noted by my opponent, there are various forms of Ecstasy which often contain a handful of other drugs. In legalizing "Ecstasy," there is no way to decipher for which drugs I advocate the legalization of. Therefore MDMA is the only consistent ingredient in Ecstasy pills, and the only one eligible for discussion in this debate. This is similar to how we are discussing tobacco in this debate instead of cigarettes. Tobacco is the main drug - but not the only drug - in contained in cigarettes.

2. I agree entirely with my opponent that the cost benefit analysis should take into consideration the cost of life, the cost of property and the cost of liberty. Now that we've cleared up any miscommunication regarding that standard, we can proceed with the arguments.

[ ARGUMENTS ]

1. Dangers
2. Government vs. Liberty
3. Benefits: Medical
4. Benefits: Personal
5. Benefits: Legal
6. Benefits: Cost

1. Like almost everything in life, ingesting any type of drug has both its pros and cons - benefits and dangers. While it is true that smoking tobacco carries with it an increased risk of cancer, I fail to see how that should have ANY legal bearing whatsoever. Today the United States has many second-hand smoke laws regarding tobacco ingestion; in other words, it is only legal to smoke tobacco in designated areas or on your own property away from where it can be considered harmful to others. The same restrictions could very well be imposed upon marijuana and MDMA if they were to become legal.

While Con is correct in asserting that MDMA affects the blood flow of the brain and harms the brain negatively, this can be said about a plethora of other legal things including: alcohol consumption; environmental pollutants; sun bathing; eating fatty foods; stress; lack of sleep; etc. In other words, ALL of these things are harmful and yet are perfectly legal. The point here is that the government cannot make everything that of which can be potentially harmful illegal. There is a certain element of responsibility in all of our personal choices. For instance, we know sun tanning greatly damages our skin AND causes cancer; however, people still choose to engage in this behavior. The same logic can be applied to the drugs in question. The government can issue general warnings and studies about the potential dangers of these drugs, and people can choose whether or not that would hinder their consumption.

3. As I'm sure you're aware, these drugs are not only disadvantageous but have many benefits as well. Let's start with the medical benefits of marijuana. First, they are known to assist with pain from various ailments including arthritis, HIV, cancer, MS, spinal cord injuries, etc. In a 2007 study on neuropathic pain, 50 patients smoked marijuana. The results, published in the journal Neurology, showed a 34% reduction in ratings of pain. Second, marijuana has also been hypothesized to help with nausea induced by chemotherapy and antiretroviral therapy, and with severe loss of appetite due to viral infection. A 2008 review published in the European Journal of Cancer Care analyzed 30 clinical studies using cannabinoid drugs synthesized in the lab, and concluded that they were better than standard antinausea drugs in alleviating the nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy [1]. In other words, it's clear that marijuana has a plethora of medical uses for which the medical community nor my opponent can deny. In contrast with the negatives, the positives of this drug FAR out-do the potential harms.

So what about MDMA? Dr. Holland, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, has this to say about the drug: Being a popular illicit drug does not negate its potential medical benefits. Twenty years ago, before Ecstasy was an illegal street drug, it was a medicine used by psychiatrists to create breakthroughs in therapy. It was also used in very small doses to treat depression (since MDMA releases serotonin in your brain; the chemical that makes you happy). Andrew Weil, M.D., says: MDMA is a unique compound with great potential for positive use [2]. I won't waste any more characters noting what many reputable doctors have said, though the bottom line remains clear: There are an abundance of positive medical uses for these drugs, and RELIABLE INFORMATION about their uses can prove to be extremely beneficial.

Indeed there are a lot of MYTHS about these drugs that lead to an unfair social stigma, such as the fact that Marijuana is a so-called "gateway drug" that leads users to try other drugs, and most frustratingly of all, the retarded notion that Ecstasy puts "holes in your brain" ... What a crock! This is a flat out lie debunked by any credible doctor in the field of medicine, yet it remains the ignorant assumption of people everywhere. Also, Con's assertion about first time brain damage are great exaggerations! More about this when I have the space...!

Anyway, tobacco has medical benefits as well. "A byproduct of cigarette smoke is carbon- dioxide, which in high doses is lethal. However, scientists have discovered that in low dosages, carbon-dioxide in a person's bloodstream prevents blood from "clotting". Blood clots in the bloodstream are the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes" [3]. So again, there are pros and cons to almost everything. Driving in an automobile has risks, yet we choose to engage in that behavior. And just as the government poses restrictions on this activity, so too can they impose restrictions or other legal burdens regarding the distribution of legal drugs.

4. Perhaps just as importantly as medical benefits are personal ones. Since the inception of this country, people have been smoking tobacco. In fact, innumerable farmers make their living from farming this crop. Smoking cigarettes as well as marijuana is something that people do socially for fun, and again the implications to these activities are limited to the individual. Similarly, use of MDMA can be considered highly amusing by many users who wish to take some and then go clubbing, to a concert or to a party where they will enjoy the music, lightning and social activity ten-fold. Why should the government have the right to deny these people this option?! It is their burden to act responsibly under the influence of these drugs, and in choosing this behavior, they are choosing to accept the risks.

5. There are a great deal of legal and financial benefits in choosing to legalize these drugs. First, it eliminates the need for such a huge DEA which will save the tax payers money. Second, no DEA and allowing people to make their own responsible choices means an increase in democracy and liberty. Third, there is a HUGE amount of government corruption regarding the drug industry. We should eliminate bureaucratic trouble making systems as much as possible. Legalization would mean a lower price; thus, related crimes (like theft and gangs) would be reduced. Police and court resources would be freed up for more serious crimes. Drug dealers (including some terrorists) would lose most or all of their business. The FDA and/or others could regulate the quality and safety of drugs. Finally, drug busts often trap young people in a flawed system that turns them into lifelong criminals which is not good for the individual OR the state [4].

6. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, legalization could mean a source of additional tax revenues. Not to mention lower taxes for the public in general.

Sources:

[1] http://www.latimes.com...
[2] http://www.drugpolicy.org...
[3] http://www.oohoi.com...
[4] http://www.balancedpolitics.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Cody_Franklin

Con

*Parameters*

For saving characters: We're talking only about ecstasy pills containing MDMA, to maintain consistency.

1. Dangers

a. My opponent first discusses how we could take the current legal stipulations for tobacco, and apply them to MDMA and marijuana; my two issues with this argument are: i) I agree with my opponent; we certainly COULD impose the same restrictions; however, this resolution is not asking for what we have the capability to do - Pro never gives us any legitimate reason to impose these standards on MDMA and tobacco beyond expansion of the status quo over other drugs; this leads me to: ii) My opponent never offers any logical support as to why current legal standards are something that need to be kept; it could easily be argued by me that, because tobacco carries a definite risk of self-harm, jeopardizing both life and all subsequent rights, that these current legal standards ought to be repealed; remember, folks, we're arguing for how things should be; don't let my opponent trick you into accepting an is/ought situation (X is, therefore, X ought to be).

b. First of all, let me redirect the voters to the parameters of the debate, in which my opponent agreed that we aren't discussing the legality or harms of other drugs, including alcohol; even accepting the analogy, my opponent is making a fallacious comparison by assuming that, because one harmful substance is permissible, that another harmful substance ought also be permissible; don't let yourselves be fooled here; I shouldn't need to attack every 'example' that Pro provides, suffice to say the difference between these examples and our 3 drugs will become self-evident; her argument next centers on personal responsibility; understand, folks, that if drug users continue to consume these drugs (MDMA/Marijuana) under illegal conditions, they are in no way demonstrating any kind of personal responsibility; they are not only knowingly choosing to disobey written laws at the time, but they are doing it for purposes of self-harm, perhaps harm of others, if these drugs are distributed among friends or buyers; because of this, users and sellers have proven themselves to be irresponsible, which in turn proves that the government can't simply give them the benefit of the doubt, since the users in question don't have the capability to make responsible decisions.

2. I think Lwerd skipped 2; or, just refer to the above paragraph.

3. Medical Benefits

a. All of the medical ‘benefits' of marijuana use are really a moot point; the benefits she shows are nothing more than pain reduction and stomach settlers; this is hardly a ‘plethora'; she never provides any evidence that shows marijuana to actually help in treating these diseases. My evidence, on the other hand, is ignored by Pro: it clearly shows that, while there may be medical ‘benefits' for marijuana, consumption of the drug can actually accelerate the diseases that it's helping to treat; in the C-B Analysis, aggravation and acceleration of these diseases trumps temporary pain/nausea relief. Furthermore, my evidence revealed marijuana to be an immunosuppressant, which weakens a patient's immune system, making them more susceptible to infections and cancer, also helping to speed along the development of HIV into full-blown AIDS; ironically, though marijuana may calm the nausea from chemotherapy, it increases the risk of fatality by weakening the immune system more than chemotherapy already does; this, too, trumps temporary pain relief.

b. Also, to save on characters, just note that Lwerd ignores all of the psychological damages of marijuana consumption for patients and recreational users alike; you can refer back to Point D on my first contention in Round 2.

c. My opponent makes the claim that ecstasy can be used, in small doses, to treat things like depression; first of all, though, I'd like to clarify that, if we cannot keep something illegal due to "potential harms" as Pro states earlier, then we certainly can't legalize it for "great potential for positive use". We're going to need more conclusive evidence than that, Pro; however, the multitude of evidence I have in round 2 has shown that, not only can ecstasy actually bring about depression (as opposed to treating it), use of the drug can cause other disorders, like extreme anxiety, heavy memory loss, in addition to the possibility of killing first-time users! And, whereas MDMA has only potential positive uses, it has a guaranteed harm: As my evidence provided, ecstasy use is guaranteed to cause brain damage to even first-time users. Clearly, the possibility of treating depression is outweighed by the greater possibilities of other disorders, first-time death, and guaranteed brain damage.

d. The next argument of Pro's is irrelevant; I have never claimed that marijuana is a gateway drug, nor have I claimed that ecstasy puts holes in one's brain; also, the first-time brain damage ‘assertion' is actually a valid argument backed by medical study; however, I grant that space is limited. It sucks.

e. My opponent provides the possibility of using tobacco smoke to decrease blood clots; however, there are far worse costs with smoking tobacco, including several different types of cancer, addictions, respiratory issues, and several more [http://pma.sparks.org...]. Clearly, even assuming the one benefit Pro provides to be worthy, the greater number of guaranteed harms, one being those respiratory issues, trumps the medical possibilities of tobacco; furthermore, extend the argument from Point C in my 3rd Contention dealing with the harms of tobacco not being limited only to smoking.

4. Personal Benefits

a. "Since the inception of this country, people have been smoking tobacco." <- This could well be an ad populum and an appeal to tradition all wrapped in one; you decide, voters.

b. My opponent's argument returns to the idea of responsible action, but apply what I've said before; by choosing to consume these harmful substances, especially against the law, these users have proven that they cannot, in this respect, make responsible choices, ergo do not deserve that option; furthermore, Pro has yet to prove why something being "fun" is a legitimate reason for a harmful substance to be legalized. At this point, it's "fun" vs. safety; when "fun" puts a person's own rights (or the rights of others) in jeopardy, even inadvertently, clearly the protection of rights takes precedence. The government's job is to protect its citizens, as the citizen is part of the society in question.

5. Legal benefits

a. Pro never provides any logical support as to why this need should be eliminated; my opponent's ‘money-saving' argument is based on the premise that the money is being spent on a bad cause, which has yet to be proven; this is a premise that she as Pro has a burden to prove, not an inherent truth in the resolution; ergo, her conclusion is also flawed, and can be disregarded.

b. Again, the choices people are making aren't responsible; furthermore, Pro has yet to prove that legalization will provide more democracy, and also yet to prove that any increase in democracy and liberty is automatically good.

c. Agreed, we should eliminate corrupt bureaucracy; however, if the government will be regulating and selling these drugs instead of chasing after dealers, it's likely that this corruption won't be eliminated; only moved.

d. Black markets will still flourish for those who which to get what the government cannot or will not provide in terms of drugs; ergo, legalization doesn't discourage illicit sales.

e. Tobacco is regulated, but yet still has a lot of inherent harms.

f. Drugs shouldn't be legalized just so people won't get into trouble.

6. Financial Benefits

a. This is simply a repetition of the earlier ‘lower taxes' argument; also, I pose to you your question to me: Why is money more important to the state than the well-being of citizens?
Danielle

Pro

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

It would appear as if Con wishes to criminalize MDMA, tobacco and marijuana based on one factor alone: It is potentially harmful to consumers. I have submitted to the reality that these drugs, when abused, can lead to health risks that may harm an individual. However, my stance in this debate has been that the risk of losing the essential liberties and freedom that this country was founded upon poses an even greater risk to society. Moreover, as I've already pointed out thus far in the debate, legalizing or decriminalizing these drugs has various benefits including but not limited to positive medical use; personal satisfaction; cost benefits and efforts towards implementing a more democratic and fair government.

In the Comment Section of this debate, my opponent asked me what I thought the purpose of government was. Again, I maintain that the government's sole responsibility is to protect the rights of the people. The Declaration of the Rights of Man - the document that spurred the American Revolution - notes that liberty is granting people the freedom to do anything they please so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of another. Thomas Jefferson, the author of The Declaration of Independence, notes in his infamous document that people have the right to pursue happiness. Perhaps what many people don't know is that in its original draft, Jefferson's wording originally stated that people had the right to pursue property (but later changed it because 'happiness' sounded better).

My point here is that one's self belongs to them and them alone; you are your own property. So, if one wishes to pollute their body with toxins or other substances - even if it has detrimental effects - one has the right to do that regardless of the personal consequences. For instance, if I wanted to throw a party and trash your house, I couldn't because that would be a violation of your property i.e. your rights. However, if I wanted to throw a party and trash MY house, that would be perfectly within my right to do so, and to prohibit me from exhausting this right is actually a violation of my rights. This is the real issue at hand.

I could spend countless amounts of characters illustrating why Con's statistics - especially regarding marijuana and MDMA - are HIGHLY manipulated and inaccurate! For instance, the notion that smoking pot could actually induce schizophrenia on an individual is ludicrous. Do you know how much pot you'd have to smoke in order to have serious harmful effects?! The reality is that schizophrenia is a mental illness caused by biological factors, genetics and chemicals in the brain that have nothing to do with marijuana. In fact, my source notes that these so-called studies making these ridiculous claims were FALSE and notes:

"Empirical data did not support the investigators' hypothesis that smoking marijuana was associated with increased rates of schizophrenia or other mental illnesses among the general public — a fact that even the authors begrudgingly admitted when they declared, 'Projected trends for schizophrenia incidence have not paralleled trends in cannabis use over time.' The expected rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia and psychoses did not occur over a 10 year period. This study does not therefore support the specific causal link between cannabis use and incidence of psychotic disorders. … This concurs with other reports indicating that increases in population cannabis use have not been followed by increases in psychotic incidence" [1].

Similarly, Con has completely misrepresented the so-called facts about MDMA that he provided in the previous rounds. In reading up on HIS OWN SOURCES, here's what I've found:

1. Based on a review of the social and health harms of ecstasy, the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs) recommends that the government reclassify the drug from Class A to Class B... In other words, research shows that MDMA's potential harm or threat should be LOWER than what was previously considered.

2. By repeating the tests administered to ecstasy users, researchers found SUBTLE changes to cell architecture and decreased blood flow in some brain regions.

3. Any "brain damage" caused by MDMA is almost insignificant, AND, research does not prove its permanent!

Again, I found these facts from checking up on Con's own sources (At least I won one point in this debate!). I won't cite them for lack of character space, but they're under MDMA in his R2 argument. That said, I won't bother wasting more space discussing the other harms that these drugs and tobacco may cause. Instead, I'll re-visit my point that the so-called dangers of these drugs are often exaggerated in an attempt to promote a socially conservative agenda, and to gain popular support for the politicians who make laws.

Remember that the government isn't a perfect, all-knowing entity; it is a system based on the CONCEPT of liberty and composed of flawed individuals who do not always do the right thing. Thomas Jefferson once said, "When governments fear the people there is liberty. When the people fear the government there is tyranny." Con notes that the government should not fear the people; that doing so would enable a mob mentality and instead that there should be mutual respect between the two. However, the government is COMPOSED of the people (i.e. democracy), and its supposed to protect them - their rights and wants.

As we can see, people like to experiment with recreational drugs in America. First it was peyote. Then tobacco (many farmers still make their living off this product). Next, hash and marijuana. Alcohol. Etc. Con writes, "It could easily be argued by me that, because tobacco carries a definite risk of self-harm, jeopardizing both life and all subsequent rights, that these current legal standards ought to be repealed." Oh? I encourage Con to attempt at arguing that tobacco should become illegal. The reality is that this would NEVER be acceptable; remember what happened during Prohibition when the government attempted to outlaw alcohol? What became known as the "Noble Experiment' failed miserably. Instead, it increased gang membership and violence significantly (see: Al Capone) and the people simply did not tolerate it. There are about 45 million people who smoke cigarettes in the U.S. Con would have the burden of proving that the government has the right to outlaw anything that causes self-harm, instead of honoring the individual liberties of the people - the same liberties that this country was founded on.

Con also says, "Pro never gives us any legitimate reason to impose these standards on MDMA and tobacco beyond expansion of the status quo over other drugs." I don't really understand this assertion. My point was that just as there are laws to outlaw second-hand tobacco smoke (so people don't suffer as a result of other people's choices), the same should apply to marijuana smoke. And obviously, anyone who wishes to refrain from taking MDMA will do so. Additionally, Con is right in stating that alcohol consumption is irrelevant to this debate. However, what IS relevant to this debate are the context of the laws and what ought to be legal or ought not to be legal. My point is that just as alcohol can be dangerous and remains legal, so too can (and should) other things including - BUT NOT LIMITED TO - alcohol consumption, sun bathing, pollutants, stress, lack of sleep, etc.

I'm out of character space for now, but as I've pointed out, liberty should trump potential harm! Con has yet to explain or prove otherwise. Furthermore, there ARE indisputable benefits to these drugs - including medical and costs - which in consideration with others I've mentioned in R2 make my advocacy for legalization still stand.

Source:
[1] http://mentalhealth.about.com...
Debate Round No. 3
Cody_Franklin

Con

1. Potential Harms and Essential Liberties

a. Pro argues that I am arguing for criminalization based on potential harms, but as I've explained, many of these are guaranteed harms; they may not be easily observable, immediately tangible harms, but the gradualness of many harms does not make them any less existent; for example, with marijuana, it has been proven that the drug is an immunosuppressant, which incontestably weakens the body, which is counterproductive to the ‘medical' uses of the drug.

b. While rhetorically pleasing, my opponent fails to prove exactly how the ‘right to self-harm' is an "essential liberty"; as I pointed out in Round 2, the government's obligation to preserve life, and the quality thereof, cannot be obstructed by the desire for personal enjoyment, especially since, if one's life is put at risk, the future satisfaction of the desire for enjoyment is also put at risk.

2. The Purpose of Government

a. Agreed, one of the government's main duties is to protect rights; however, at the point where the right to personal enjoyment begins to endanger the right to life, the government is clearly obligated to protect the latter, so that the possibility of exercising the former may also be protected.

b. Even assuming that people are their own ‘property', my opponent has dropped the argument on responsible decision-making. As I've argued, many users continue to consume these substances despite their knowledge that doing so is self-harm, and that doing so is blatantly against the law (as far as pot and ecstasy, anyhow); these both demonstrate that users cannot make responsible decisions, and thus they cannot be allowed access to this nonessential freedom because they have not shown the capacity to exercise it responsibly.

3. Manipulated Sources

a. Pro asserts that I am making ‘ridiculous' claims about the link between pot and schizophrenia; however, after searching through my opponent's page of links: "Yale University researchers have shown that active ingredient in marijuana can cause transient schizophrenia-like symptoms ranging from suspiciousness and delusions to impairments in memory and attention in some patients." [http://mentalhealth.about.com...] Furthermore, "One 2005 study, for example, found similarities between the brains of adolescents who smoked marijuana regularly and adolescents with schizophrenia." [http://mentalhealth.about.com...] Clearly, there are links between smoking marijuana, and the causation of schizophrenic symptoms, even if the disorder itself is not present; from Pro's own sources, we can see that the correlation (and some causation) is quite real.

b. Granted, the recommendation was for ecstasy to be a Class B drug, however, Pro fails to provide the reason given: "The challenge is to ensure that any debate over ecstasy's classification is not perceived - or indeed misrepresented - as indicating that the drug is in any way 'safe'. It is precisely because ecstasy is a harmful drug that it is controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act but evidence shows that its social and health harms are more consistent with drugs controlled under Class B, such as amphetamines." [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...] Pro seems to have omitted the fact that ecstasy is recommended as a Class B drug BECAUSE it is harmful. There is no misrepresentation on my part.

c. Though, inconclusive on the permanence of brain damage, Lead researcher Maartje de Win did affirm that "we cannot conclude that ecstasy, even in small doses, is safe for the brain" [http://news.bbc.co.uk...].

4. Back to Government

a. Pro never refutes that there ought to be mutual respect between government and its people; if the government fears the people, or vice versa, there will always be tyranny on the side of the group imposing fear; and, tyranny by a majority is no better than tyranny by government. Keep in mind that we are discussing how things OUGHT to be, and the relationship between government and citizens OUGHT to be one of mutual respect, not one of master (the people) and servant (the government); ergo, the people's desires shouldn't always take top priority.

b. Whether or not people have always liked experimenting with the drugs is irrelevant; refer back to Round 2, when I clearly called Pro on making a simultaneous ad populum/appeal to tradition. She simply extends the ad populum by saying that criminalization of these substances would "NEVER be acceptable"; and that 45 million people are smokers; I don't see why the government ought to be forced to support people's addictions to smoking cigarettes, especially when greedy companies are allowed to profit by selling knowingly harmful products; Pro certainly hasn't convinced me.

c. I may have mis-worded my argument, I apologize; I was arguing that Pro has given no legitimate reason to take the status quo for tobacco and to impose it on ecstasy and marijuana; that is, she hasn't proved that legal status quo to be a good thing. Further, she asserts again that, because we "can" legalize these substances in the same way that we legalize alcohol, we therefore SHOULD legalize these substances in that way; however, Pro failed to address my argument that, the resolution doesn't ask what we have the capability to do, but rather what should be done.
Somehow, I have about 3,000 characters left; luckily, there are some things I want to go over.

5. Arguments Dropped by Pro

a. Her numerous points on the Legal and Financial Benefits (5 and 6 on her list from Round 2).

b. Tobacco smoke as a medical tool to decrease blood clots.

c. *The argument on responsibility of drug consumers.*

d. The reality of the so-called ‘medical benefits' of marijuana (refer to my Round 3 post, Point 3a).

e. *My Round 3 post, Point 3c, discussing how she tries to pin me for negating on ‘potential harms', when the best she
can come up with are ‘potential medical benefits'.*

f. The guaranteed harms of tobacco, both in cigarettes and in chewing tobacco.

g. I've covered many other drops in my previous refutations, such as her dropping of the ad populum/appeal to tradition fallacies, for example.

h. Clearly, though there are some potential (situation-specific) harms, many of these harms are entirely guaranteed; my opponent fails to attack the idea presented that, though harms may not be instantly recognizable, the harms are still very real. Thus, to preserve future liberty, the right to life, and the quality thereof, must be protected first; though Ben Franklin asserts that trading ‘essential liberty' for ‘temporary safety' is despicable, my opponent has failed to prove that the right to take harmful drugs is an ‘essential liberty', further failing to prove how preventing these harms is ‘temporary safety', beyond the obvious fact that one's life is only temporary. So, while there may be ‘indisputable benefits' for each substance, the costs and harms clearly outweigh the minute benefits.

Though I have about 1,000 characters left, I have little else that needs to be addressed.; with all the arguments that have been misrepresented or dropped by Pro, the victor today is clear; in the interests of fairness, please do not allow my opponent to try and cover any of these drops in her final round, and further disallow her from presenting any new arguments or evidence, as it simply would not be fair to me to do so, seeing as I would be helpless to respond.
This has been a very enriching debate, and I would have the voters refer back to my original post to determine the allocation of points between debaters. I'd like to thank L for providing such a unique challenge, and I hope that we might be able to strike up an even better debate (if that's even possible) in the future!
Danielle

Pro

1. Harms and Liberties

A) Con's first point is that some of these drugs elicit guaranteed harms. My response: WHO CARES! It is not the nature of these harms that has been in question; it's whether or not the government has a right to tell people not to do something simply because it can be considered dangerous to their own person. Moreover, again not everybody is negatively impacted by these drugs in a dramatic or life threatening way.

B) Con's next point is that the government's obligation is to preserve life. Nowhere in any government legislation does it EVER say that the government's obligation is to preserve life. On the contrary, protecting liberty (freedoms) is the essential concept on which our government was founded. The only way in which preserving life is a priority is when it comes to property rights, i.e. one's person is their own property and so the government should take measures to protect it from one trying to harm another. As I said, in terms of self-harm, there is no conflict of property rights or ownership. Moreover, one indeed has the right to self harm. If I were alone on a deserted island and hurt myself, whose rights would I be violating? Nobody's. Rights are entitlements that you are born with and revolve solely around the SELF. Assuming that Con would say I'd be violating my own rights in causing myself harm, I would call him a giant hypocrite :)

2. The Purpose of Government

A) Again, my opponent seems to be under the impression that the right to life is of utmost government importance. I have stated why this is simply not the case. Con's assertion about the government's purpose is simply rooted in his opinion, as I've noted that nowhere does it ever say in legal history that the government's responsibility is as such.

B) Next Con implies that I have supposedly dropped his argument regarding people's irresponsible decision making. He said that since people continue to do things that harm them, it proves that they do not have the capacity to make proper decisions regarding their own livelihood. I absolutely did not drop this argument. My response was that people continue to do things that harm themselves ALL the time, once again including but not limited to: sun bathing, poor diet, alcohol consumption, stress, lack of sleep, microwave use, excessive cell phone use, unnecessary plastic surgery, etc. Note that NONE of these things are illegal, and moreover, I disagree entirely that the government (i.e. corrupt law makers no more enlightened than you or I) should become so grossly excessive that it feels it has the right to dictate the ways in which people live their lives. This is the very tyranny Jefferson has warned against.

3. Manipulated Sources

A) Con implies that my cited reference makes the claim that using marijuana results in schizophrenia-like symptoms. Instead, what my source says is that marijuana can have this TRANSIENT (i.e. temporary) effect. To be specific, the source notes "Some subjects developed temporary symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia, usually lasting ONE HALF HOUR TO ONE HOUR." In other words, for a very short amount of time (!), users can possibly exhibit some schizophrenic-like symptoms like paranoia, problems with memory and attention, and thought disorder. The site notes that additionally, as expected, THC - the chemical that makes marijuana effective - also induces euphoria.

In my experience, the euphoria has always trumped anything negative that smoking may cause. However, I acknowledge that this varies depending on the individual. So, why should my smoking be inhibited if I am okay with the minor harms that it brings? There are far more dangerous things that are perfectly legal which I could be enjoying instead. And so I ask Con: Is the real issue here SAFETY? Or is it your authoritarian mentality about blindly following government regulation? To conclude this point, note that once again, my opponent has manipulated a source in this debate to fulfill a false agenda... hey, much like a politician! Cody, I think I know what type of career you should consider :D

B) Speaking of our ridiculous government, Con mentions that ecstasy is being made a class B drug as opposed to A (the most harmful drugs) specifically because it is considered harmful. Okay, in a system where the "Class" of a drug determines its potential harm on the public, how does this make any sense?! This is just one example of the backwards logic implemented by our flawed government officials. Anyway, in discussing misrepresentation of the harms of ecstasy, what I was referring to were my two points that (1) Researchers found only SUBTLE changes to cell architecture and decreased blood flow in some brain regions, which is hardly a big deal, and (2) Any "brain damage" caused by MDMA is almost insignificant, AND, research does not prove its permanent!

C) Con's final point on this issue is that a researcher has claimed that they cannot conclude ecstasy, even used in small doses, is safe for the brain. Well no kidding! I never said that these drugs were necessarily SAFE; however, that doesn't mean that they are severely harmful either. Nevertheless, that has nothing to do with my points about liberty and the government, etc.

4. Back to Government

A) I have never denied that there ought to be mutual respect between people and government; however, I stand by my statement that the government should indeed fear the people. What Con has failed to realize is that the majority of people would never tyrannize or oppress the government; to do so would not be in their best interest. Indeed it would be most beneficial for the people to maintain and uphold a just government that protects rights. In dismantling the government, you would only be discrediting a body that aims to protect your values. So, it is highly unlikely that a successful and just government would ever be over-turned by the majority. I disagree with you entirely and feel that the government IS a servant; it protects and serves the people!

B) Con writes that people's desires shouldn't take top priority. I agree, if those desires include infringing upon the rights of others! Keep in mind that I am NOT advocating the ad populum or appeal to tradition fallacies. Instead, I am shedding light on the obvious fact that our country's appetite for drugs is insatiable and has been since our inception. In that case, if the people don't want their personal rights to be infringed upon regarding what they ingest into their bodies, then the government should not keep trying to (UNSUCCESSFULLY) repress that reality - especially since it costs the tax payers money.

Now, if my opponent were to suggest that a majority of the people don't care about these laws because they don't take drugs (which is untrue anyway - more about that in a second), he would be hypocritical as that would be a prime example of the very ad populum fallacy he brings up. "A survey published this month in PLoS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science, suggests that despite tougher drug policies in the U.S., Americans were twice as likely to have tried marijuana than the Dutch with its permissive marijuana laws... Researchers found that 42% of people surveyed in the U.S. had smoked marijuana" [1].

C) In regard to why we should impose restrictions on pot and MDMA similar to those of tobacco, again I did NOT drop this argument -- I stated very clearly that this would be done to protect EVERYONE'S rights. Those what wish to exercise their right to use drugs can, and those who don't will be protected in the sense that it will be kept away from them (like second-hand smoke).

5. Dropped Arguments

Unlike Con, I have NO more characters. Fortunately I addressed all of his concerns anyway (that I in fact did not drop any of those arguments!), in this round or the last. Please check back and vote accordingly. Thanks for the debate!

Source:
[1] http://www.ti...
Debate Round No. 4
65 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
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Posted by thereal_yeti 7 years ago
thereal_yeti
"basic liberties meaning strictly those detailed in the constitution and bill of rights"

This is where I believe MANY advocates of the war on drugs demonstrate how they fail to understand the constitution..

The bill of rights were about what rights the STATES cannot take away from you. The individual state does not have the right to take away your guns, the individual state does not have the right to silence you, or to do any unreasonable searches ETC ETC..

HOWEVER, the constituion goes onto say what powers the FEDERAL government ought to have, they believed in a small government, thus the powers they gave them was small and limited. And if you look at the tenth amendment it says this, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"

So, it is not up to us to proove that using drugs is a protected right. It is up to you to show us where exactly does the constitution give the federal government the authority to ban substances, I assure you, the answer is NOWHERE, thus it is unconstitutional..

A constitution that is orientated towards freedom,should NOT be about listing specific rights the people ought to have, that is way to long. A constition, should be able telling the government what powers IT ought to have, which is a much MUCH smaller list.
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
Feverish - Funny you mention that. I'm assuming that you're referencing our previous comments about my recurring debilitating migraines...? Anyway, no, I don't agree that pot can help with those. On the contrary, sometimes pot has actually given me a headache. This can happen if I smoke bad weed (which I make it a habit never to do :P), sometimes when I smoke resin (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures :P) or accidentally smoke stems by not taking them out of the bowl. I try to avoid these things and smoking in general if I have a headache. However, pot is EXCELLENT for nausea. It really is. And I don't even have cancer (chemo)!
Posted by SWfiend 8 years ago
SWfiend
Haha, well thank you Lwerd, but if you had the time to notice what I said in the later part of my comment, you should have noticed what I said before that, mainly: "While I initially agreed with the pro, con brought up some very good point[s]." This means that I was in a state of mind where no debater won or lost, but both had made very good arguments for their position. Once I've read up on the topic, I'll leave a comment with who, in my opinion, had a better case. Also, I would have voted if I could, but because of my inability to 'confirm my identity' (no cellphone), I can't.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 8 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Well, tobacco is indeed a drug; a drug is anything that, when consumed, alters bodily function in any way, shape, or form. Marijuana is a drug, and it is also a plant (or, rather, the leaves thereof). And no, I am referring to tobacco, since tobacco smoke and chewing tobacco are what produce the harms that I was referring to.
Posted by nonparticipant 8 years ago
nonparticipant
Tobacco is not a drug, it is a plant (or rather the leaves of a plant http://en.wikipedia.org...). I believe that when you speak of Tobacco you are in fact referring to Nicotine. Otherwise a good debate.
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
I've heard that marijuana can be helpful with migraines Cody. Don't know if Lwerd agrees.
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
"I'm just going to have to read into the topic more."

That's good and I hope you do. Though I think the point is to figure out who performed better in the debate; not what you actually agree with or believe, or what you'd decide after reading up on the subject. Nah'mean?
Posted by SWfiend 8 years ago
SWfiend
Interesting to say the least. While I initially agreed with the pro, con brought up some very good point. I'm just going to have to read into the topic more.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 8 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Not even any RFDs :( Well... except for our godawful ones. ;)
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