Resolved: The possession, use, and sale of recreational marijuana should be legalized in the U.S.
Debate Rounds (5)
Here are my conditions for a successful debate:
Round 1 - agreement to debate, introduction
Round 2 - definitions, burdens, values, and contention-level arguments
Round 3 - refutations to the arguments and conditions created in Round 2
Round 4 - summary and crystallization of the key arguments and voting issue
Round 5 - final focus and comments, connection back to the impacts, conclusion
Here are a couple of observations hat I have with respect to the previous structure. NEITHER PRO NOR CON MAY DO THE FOLLOWING THINGS. These should be automatic grounds for disqualification:
1. beginning contention-level arguments, definitions, values, burdens, or observations in Round 1
2. doing any refutations of the opponent's arguments in Round 2 (ex: Con cannot spend his/her Round 2 speech refuting my arguments from Round 2)
3. trolling, loitering, or being disrespectful to the opponent
And finally, a couple of expectations for the round (so long as my opponent agrees to them):
1. use evidence, statistics, and examples to illustrate arguments
2. follow through with impacts to arguments, clearly defining how each links back to the values and burdens stated at the beginning of the Round 2 speeches
3. sign-post arguments (ex: using contentions or benefits)
I will NOT make any definitions or specific arguments until the Con accepts this debate.
I look forward to this debate!
I will not use dictionary definitions; let us just keep it simple. Possession means owning something. Use means smoking/inhaling/eating/vaporizing/etc. marijuan. Recreational marijuana means that adults ABOVE THE AGE OF 21 YEARS OLD are allowed to purchase up to SEVEN GRAMS of marijuana for any reason, with no medical conditions required. Legalized means that we remove the penalties from marijuana activities and that we regulate marijuana in dispensaries at which consumers of age can purchase it. The U.S. refers to all fifty states of the United States of America; the resolution seeks to essentially overturn the national ban on cannabis.
The framework for this round should be net benefits. Unless my opponent is able to demonstrate that the costs of legalizing marijuana in the U.S. overwhelmingly outweigh the benefits, the Pro should win the round.
Contention 1: Economic Benefits. Legalizing pot allows the United States to allow a wealth of economic benefits in the form of tax revenue and also in the form of liberating costly prisoners from incarceration. We have already seen examples of collecting revenue. According to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), between January 2014 and October 2014, Colorado accrued 40 million dollars of tax revenue by legalizing marijuana and allowing 21+ citizens to purchase it. Suppose that we extrapolated legalization to the whole country. According to the Huffington Post, this would result in $8.7 billion per year in the form of state and federal taxes. Taxing any good or service allows the economy to grow, because it provides money that is uesd for other programs. In the case of marijuana legalization, these programs translate to education, health care, and drug addiction treatment, valuable impacts in our society. Furthermore, legalizing marijuana prevents costs that are associated with incarcerating individuals. According to the DPA, approximately 750 thousand citizens are arrested for an infraction of marijuana law each year. Furthermore, the cost of incarceration is $47,000 per prisoner per year. This translates to 7 to 10 billion dollars per year that are wasted on locking up stoners (rather than rapists or murderers). Clearly, not only does legalizing marijuana create money; keeping it illegal costs money. This 35 billion dollars could be used to reduce the national deficit, solve other crimes, or perhaps reduce taxes on American citizens.
Contention 2: Legalizing marijuana reduces crime. Legalizing marijuana prevents police officers from wasting their time arresting harmless stoners, when they could be spending these efforts and resources fighting actually dangerous crimes, such as murder, theft, or rape. According to RollingStone Magazine, marijuana arrests are no longer real "police work"; law enforcement would rather spend their time tackling other crimes such as murder and rape. This argument is intuitive rather than logical; less time wasted on activity X (stopping pot smoke) leads to more time available for activity Y (stopping murder). LearnLiberty echoes this message: "legalizing marijuana frees up resources to solve other crimes". The impact is clear: a reduction in violent crimes that hurt American citizens, if the U.S. is smart enough to legalize pot.
Contention 3: Legalizing marijuana reduces or eliminates racial discrimination in law enforcement. It should be clear to the layperson that most marijuana arrests are against racial minorities, particularly blacks. A black individual is no more likely to use pot than a white person but, in Washington D.C., is over 8 times more likely to be arrested for it. This is what one could refer to as a Jim Crowe system; blacks suffer from mass incarceration much more than whites do, but they do not commit any more wrongdoings than whites. In order to provide for an American system of equality of opportunity and justice without regard to skin color, marijuana should be legalized. This will prevent irrationally suspicious police officers from locking up "dangerous blacks" (who, in truth, are not the least bit dangerous; they are just minding their own business); this racist enforcement is unethical, discriminatory, and clearly non-beneficial.
Contention 4: Regulated marijuana is healthier marijuana. When alcohol was prohibited (i.e. before the 1920's), this led to an extensive black market whereby Americans still found ways to produce, purchase, and enjoy alcoholic beverages such as rum and beer. The same phenomenon occurs with marijuana. Even if marijuana is perceived to be dangerous, keeping it illegal does not deter its use. In fact, the criminal nature of cannabis provides a compelling reason for drug cartels to enter the country and sell cannabis, with no regard to whether the weed is tainted with dangerous chemicals like PCP. Since the illegality of marijuana fails to have any deterrent effect, legalizing pot will allow the government to closely control and regulate it. This allows for high-quality marijuana, meaning that consumers will enjoy marijuana that has no dangerous chemicals in it and that achieves standards of safety and health. This makes it a safer option. The influx of drug cartels is associated with the trade of weapons and also with violence, coercion, and sometimes murder. It is easier for a teenager to obtain a joint than it is for him to obtain a can of beer. Since Americans smoke pot regardless of whether or not it is legal, we should legalize it so that citizens purchase it from trusted, regulated dispensaries rather than untrustworthy, sketchy black-market dealers.
Contention 5: Americans have freedom of choice. An American citizen should be able to do whatever she want, so long as her actions do not infringe upon the rights of others. Even if skeptics were successfully able to argue that smoking pot is harmful (which I would disagree with), Americans can choose to engage in harmful activities, as long as the others in society do not feel the effects of these choices. People are allowed to eat candy, drink beer, watch TV all day, and smoke cigarettes. Why should we limit the behavior of an individual simply due to archaic notions without any substantial evidence? Marijuana is used for a wide variety of medicinal and leisure purposes, and its effects have been described as uplifting, stress-relieving, and relaxing. To keep marijuana illegal is at variance with the pursuit of happiness that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when America was established as an independent nation. If individuals want to smoke pot, they should be able to do so, particularly in the privacy of their own homes. For many citizens, occasional marijuana use improves the quality of their lives and has medicinal benefits. Some who need it for medical use are too impoverished to afford to obtain a medical recommendation from their doctors, making their medicinal options severely limited. Keeping marijuana illegal is an invasion of privacy. In short, to legalize pot is to provide Americans with the freedoms of choice and discretion and the liberty that they deserve.
I have posted evidence below that substantiates my claim. In short, the legalization of marijuana leads to benefits that address the economy, other crimes, racism, national safety, and the freedom of choice. These are all significant benefits that contribute to my proposed framework of "net benefits". A reason why keeping marijuana illegal is disadvantageous is equivalent to a reason why making marijuana legal is advantageous. Too many dollars are wasted in prohibition. Too many lives are locked up in prohibition. To many blacks and Hispanics are unfairly arrested in prohibition. Too many drug cartels enter the U.S. in prohibition. Finally, too many freedoms and basic liberties are violated in prohibition. For these reasons, the possession, use, and sale of recreational marijuana should be legalized in the U.S. Please vote Pro.
I await Con's contentions.
I shall begin my case.
Contention 1: Marijuana is dangerous
Marijuana has negative side effects when individuals are exposed to it for both short term and long term periods of usage. It distorts your senses, can make you panic, give you anxiety, and increase the rate of your heartbeat, which risks a chance of a heart attack, and since heart attacks are lethal, this means that Marijuana can kill you overtime.
Marijuana distorts both you both physically and psychologically. It can make you depressed, reduce your sexual capacity, reduce illness resistance in your body, and destroy your lungs fibers which could potentially be permanent. It also can give you psychosis and schizophrenia.
Bronchitis and lung infections are also negative effects you can get from this lethal substance. But worst of all, it increases risk of cancer. It increases amount of cell mutations in your body and when the users smoke them, they inhale carcinogens, which have been scientifically proven to give you cancer by either manipulating your dna directly or increasing the rate of cells dividing, which increases chances of cancerous cells forming.
The worst part of Marijuana is the simple fact that it contains up to 50-70% more of the cancer causing substances than tobacco does, and it can cause the same amount of damage as FIVE cigarettes being smoked one at a time.
All of the above I have stated are negative effects Marijuana can give you, and we shouldn't allow a drug that is dangerous or lethal, as it causes an unnecessary amount of pain to those who are exposed to it, and each single period of time smoking marijuana is much worse than a single period of time of smoking tobacco.
Contention 2: In Colorado, pot increased the crime rate
From 2004 to 2012, crime rate in Colorado decreased by 32%, that is until pot was legalized, because once it was, crime rate was increased by 21% in just 2 years, with an average of 10.5% per year, whereas the crime rate from 2004 to 2012 decreased at a rate of 4% per year. If crime rates are increasing now with marijuana faster than it was decreasing, then Colorado has a problem. The rate could keep increasing of it is not stopped, and the problem is, this is just Colorado. Imagine if every state allowed people to smoke weed. There are only 4 states in the U.S that have 0 restrictions on Marijuana, while there are 22 states where Marijuana is illegal. Would you want to risk increasing crime rates in all of those states, not even counting the states that have heavy restrictions on Marijuana?
Marijuana hurts both the users and the people around the users because as I have demonstrated, it has more cancer causing toxins than tobacco, can give you lung infections which destroy them, can make you depressed and anxious, and it can increase the likelihood of you committing a crimes. Marijuana is clearly not a safe substance, and therefore, it should remain illegal.
THANK YOU to my opponent for his/her contentions. I will spend this time refuting them and then highlighting the impacts of the arguments I provided.
My opponent starts out by claiming that cannabis is dangerous. Just because a chemical is dangerous does NOT mean that it should be illegal. Legality and morality do not inform one another. One could argue that prostitution, excessive alcohol, and fatty food are all "dangerous" in some sense, but no American citizen has ever argued to make all of these activities illegal. Being an American means having the discretion and liberty to take risks and to choose activities that the moral actor is comfortable with and agreeable to. This is going to be an issue with my opponent's case for the rest of this debate.
Then, even if the voter still believes that morality (whether it's dangerous/harmful) should dictate legality (whether it becomes legalized), my opponent does not successfully show the dangers of cannabis. There are none. He/she states that cannabis can make you panic or give you anxiety. This is a negative side effect called paranoia, but not all strains (varieties) of marijuana result in this effect. Furthermore, the smoker has to use a large amount of marijuana in order to experience these effects. Much more frequently, people claim using marijuana because it REDUCES their anxiety and provides medical BENEFITS.
My opponent says that cannabis can kill you. However, to the contrary, there have been no deaths due to marijuana use. His/her argument is not only speculative but also a slippery-slope, as he/she first needs to prove that marijuana substantially increases the rate of heartbeat and THEN that an increase in the rate of heartbeat leads to death. Neither of these have been proven. Please do not believe this ridiculous statement.
My opponent brings up some more speculative arguments about what cannabis COULD do to a moral actor (i.e. someone who chooses to use it), but the problem is again that just because something is harmful does not mean that it should be illegal. He/she keeps using words like "can" and "could" and then "can" again. These arguments are speculative and are not substantiated with the evidence that my opponent tried to provide. Marijuana does not create these harmful consequences, and even if it did, these effects would not develop until decades of heavy marijuana use had occurred.
My opponent also attempts to compare marijuana to tobacco and says that marijuana is five times as unhealthy, however this is nonsense. Marijuana does not have the carcinogens and nasty chemicals that comprise a regular cigarette, and while 400,000 people die from tobacco each year, zero die from marijuana use. My opponent continues with speculative arguments that might have been proposed by some biased, anti-drug group, but they are not rooted in true empirical statistics.
The only other argument that my opponent tries to form is that marijuana increases crime rates. Evidence to the contrary shows the opposite. In fact, when Washington D.C. legalized cannabis in 2015, the crime rate decreased by 99% (so was just about eliminated). Why? First of all, when marijuana is legalized, police officers spend their time fighting serious crimes like murder and rape, rather than nonviolent crimes like marijuana use. This allows more violent crimes to be deterred, and therefore their rates are reduced. Perhaps a more convincing refutation is that, under my opponent's world, marijuana is ITSELF a crime. So, if marijuana were legalized, then no one who smoked pot ever again wouold be committing a crime. Quite obviously, this would reduce the crime rate, since the action in question is no longer a crime.
So, in summary, here is what is wrong with my opponent's contentions:
1. Just because something is harmful does not mean that it should be illegal.
2. Marijuana is not harmful, and consumers use it for medicinal or at least stress-relieving reasons. My opponent's speculative claims should not be considered substantial evidence.
3. Legalizing marijuana reduces or eliminates the crmie rate rather than increases it. The evidence can be substantial but is also simply intuitive: if marijuana is no longer a crime, then the "crime" goes down.
I will now highlight my arguments and explain how they tie back to the framework of this debate, which is net benefits to society. Recall that the side that better demonstrates whether legalizing/criminalizing marijuana is better to society should win this debate.
Contention 1: Economic benefits. Legalizing pot would create money and jobs, because we would be able to collect valuable tax revenue on something that people will use regardless of whether or not the laws allow for it. This revenue is used for health care and education. Furthermore, legalizing pot saves money, because there will be fewer prisoners that drain tax dollars due to long years of imprisonment.
Contention 2: Social benefits. Legalizing pot means that police officers channel their time and attention on violent crimes, such as rape and murder, rather than silly nonviolent crimes like smoking weed. This clearly reduces the crime rate and allows for a safer society in which citizens can enjoy freedoms rather than be locked up in jail for much of their lives.
Contention 3: Racial benefits. The enforcement of marijuana laws has been extremely racist and discriminatory. Author Michelle Alexander calls it "a new Jim Crow", meaning that blacks continue to have it much harder than whites when it comes to the criminal justice system, even though they are no more likely to use pot than their white counterparts. Legalizing pot prevents police officers from being able to continue with and conduct these racist enforcement procedures.
Contention 4: Safer marijuana. Kepeing cannabis illegal DOES NOT DETER citizens from using it. This will be the most challenging argument for my opponent to respond to. He/she says that cannabis is harmful; even if it were, keeping it illegal does not stop people from its use. At least, with legalizing pot, we can verify that the cannabis is as safe as possible and that no sketchy drug dealers or cartels are entering the country with weed that could be laced with PCP or some truly dangerous chemical.
Contention 5: Freedom of choice. Americans should be able to do whatever they want so long as their actions do not infringe upon the rights of others. This is the nation that the Founding Fathers intended, and to the most extent we let people make their own decisions. Since we let people smoke cigarettes and eat unhealthy food, they should also be able to smoke cannabis. Nothing about cannabis is harmful to the user, let alone to those who do not use it.
My opponent will be expected to refute all five of these contentions with substantial evidence and reasons to believe otherwise. It is hard to argue against a legalization procedure that would create money, save money, reduce violent crimes, incerase health and safety, reduce racism, and promote the freedom of choice that responsible Americans deserve. My opponent also needs to return to his/her contentions and show why my refutations of them do not hold. Finally, he/she must tie his/her arugments back to the framework of net benefits to society. Unless my opponent is successfully able to show that the disadvantages to society of legalization overwhelmingly outweigh the advantages, the voter should vote Pro. My opponent has 48 hours to accomplish these tasks.
"Contention 1: Economic Benefits. Legalizing pot allows the United States to allow a wealth of economic benefits in the form of tax revenue and also in the form of liberating costly prisoners from incarceration. We have already seen examples of collecting revenue. According to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), between January 2014 and October 2014, Colorado accrued 40 million dollars of tax revenue by legalizing marijuana and allowing 21+ citizens to purchase it. Suppose that we extrapolated legalization to the whole country. According to the Huffington Post, this would result in $8.7 billion per year in the form of state and federal taxes. Taxing any good or service allows the economy to grow, because it provides money that is uesd for other programs. In the case of marijuana legalization, these programs translate to education, health care, and drug addiction treatment, valuable impacts in our society. Furthermore, legalizing marijuana prevents costs that are associated with incarcerating individuals. According to the DPA, approximately 750 thousand citizens are arrested for an infraction of marijuana law each year. Furthermore, the cost of incarceration is $47,000 per prisoner per year. This translates to 7 to 10 billion dollars per year that are wasted on locking up stoners (rather than rapists or murderers). Clearly, not only does legalizing marijuana create money; keeping it illegal costs money. This 35 billion dollars could be used to reduce the national deficit, solve other crimes, or perhaps reduce taxes on American citizens."
This is only the money the US gets from the tax revenue, and this is nothing compared to the amount of money spent on substance abuse. The U.S spends about $193 billion on illicit drugs, so the economic benefits are outshined by the drawbacks.
"Contention 2: Legalizing marijuana reduces crime. Legalizing marijuana prevents police officers from wasting their time arresting harmless stoners, when they could be spending these efforts and resources fighting actually dangerous crimes, such as murder, theft, or rape. According to RollingStone Magazine, marijuana arrests are no longer real "police work";"
My source says otherwise, but do not forget, Colorado is one out 4 states that have no restrictions on marijuana, so tell me, how is it known that other states won't have people committing crimes too. Lots of these cops said that they arrested the smokerrs due to possession alone, and they most likely haven't smoked enough to become depressed, anxious, or want to commit crimes, like what is happening in Colorado. As Pro, you need to prove that legalizing marijuana would be beneficial in all of those states.
"Legalizing marijuana reduces or eliminates racial discrimination in law enforcement. It should be clear to the layperson that most marijuana arrests are against racial minorities, particularly blacks. A black individual is no more likely to use pot than a white person but, in Washington D.C., is over 8 times more likely to be arrested for it."
Well I will lay some statistics on you, proportionally, blacks cause more crimes than whites do. Not in actuality, but mainly because there are more whites than blacks in this country. Whites make up 63.7% of the U.S population, while blacks make up 12.2%. However, annually whites have an average of 6,484,507 victimizations, and blacks have 4,091,971. Again, the whites have more people, so of course they will have more victimizations, but they have more than 5 times the population of blacks in the U.S, but don't even have twice as many victimizations, and so with the smaller percentage blacks have, they are actually more likely to commit crimes or be accused of one's than a white. Also while there have been confirmed biases against black people by cops, I don't think that nullifies every single case for it, as I don't see proof of that, and I have demonstrated blacks are more likely to commit a crime.
" keeping it illegal does not deter its use. In fact, the criminal nature of cannabis provides a compelling reason for drug cartels to enter the country and sell cannabis, with no regard to whether the weed is tainted with dangerous chemicals like PCP. Since the illegality of marijuana fails to have any deterrent effect, legalizing pot will allow the government to closely control and regulate it."
If drug cartels come to America, wouldn't that mean that a) marijuana use will be increased? and b) it's likely that the marijuana will be unhealthy? The Drug cartels are not our government, so I doubt they would regulate it. They just want money.
And how will the regulations help? It might decrease a few deaths, however, any kind of smoke contains carcinogens, which can give you cancer and destroy your lungs. Are they going to guarantee that it doesn't release smoke? It is still dangerous and can lead to death if this isn't the case.
"Americans have freedom of choice. An American citizen should be able to do whatever she want, so long as her actions do not infringe upon the rights of others."
Marijuana can lead to committing a bunch of crimes, which does lead to users infringing the right of others, correct? This tramples the freedom in others, and as I have said, what makes you think it is safe to legalized pot across the U.S? If it goes against the rights of others, and marijuana is the cause, then marijuana shouldn't be legal. It is simple.
My opponent starts off Round 3 by mentioning that the U.S. spends $193 billion on illicit drugs. However, he misses the aboluste crux of his own statistics. This $193 billion is BECAUSE the drugs are ILLICIT in the FIRST place. If we were to legalize pot, a huge percentage of this $193 billion would be taxed and therefore would be fueled back into America's economy. All my opponent says is that the economic costs outweigh the benefits. This is due to a misinterpretation of his own statistic. Furthermore, he fails to refute my own contention about economic benefit. The point is that we can tax marijuana to create bilions of dollars in revenue in every single state of the United States. Furthermore, we will save hundreds of billions of dollars by not locking up nonviolent offenders. This is a costly expense that is not worth it.
It is not my fault that my opponent completely misunderstands my second contention. As I stated in the 2nd round and reiterated in the 3rd round, police officers can solve other crimes if they do not make "smoking pot" their first priority. If police officers spent their time solving true crimes, like muder and rape, then there would be less danger and violence in society. My opponent has not refuted this contention, either because he misunderstands it or refuses to address it. He goes on about these speculative arguments about why people might or might not be purchasing cannabis, but there is no evidence and no logic. Please let my 2nd contention hold for the rest of the debate.
I already presented a statistic from the Drug Policy Alliance, stating that even though blacks are no more likely to use cannabis than their white counterparts, they are 4 times as likely to be arrested for it. My opponent finally comes back with some statistic saying that blacks commit more crimes per capita, but these crimes are not specific to marijuana infractions. They could come from other crimes, such as murder or rape. This makes my opponent's refutation non-topical. My opponent might show that blacks commit more crimes than whites, but he does not show that this is true for marijuana arrests. Clearly, our system of incarceration and criminal justice is very racially skewed against black people, and the only way to fix this is to legalize cannabis so that police officers no longer have an excuse for "going harder on" African-Americans.
My opponent actually supports my 4th contention without even knowing that he is doing so. YES, marijuana from drug cartels is certainly more dangerous than marijuana from a licensed recreational store, and that is PRECISELY the point of my argument. By legalizing marijuana, the government can watch after marijuana and take away the incentive of violent drug cartels to enter the country and sell sketchy weed. Keeping it above the counter, in the eyes of doctors and enforcement officials, leads to safer weed The only question that the opposition could ask now is: why legalize it in the first place? And, as my opponent has failed to respond to for now 2 rounds, keeping marijuana illegal does NOT deter consumers from using it. I'm not sure why my opponent fails to refute this. As will be a challenge for my opponent for the rest of this debate, just because the government says that something is illegal does not mean that people will not use it (examples: illegal production of alcohol in the 1920's, while it was still prohibited). So, none of my opponent's initial contentions about the health risks of marijuana hold: even if marijuana was unhealthy, keeping it illegal does not solve for this.
My opponent again tries to bring up this ridiculous idea that marijuana can kill you. I already struck down this contentoin when I mentioned that marijuana has led to zero recorded deaths in all of human history. It is not dangeorus as my opponent wants voters to believe. Quite to the contrary, marijuana has powerful medicinal benefits, such as its ability to cure anxiety, pain, stress, insomnia, and the symptoms of cancer. My opponent's claim that any kind of smoke contanis carcinogens is blatantly untrue. I would ask voters to hold him accountable to irrefutable evidence for the next round, however it is too late in the debate for that.
My opponent also has no meaningful response to my last contention. Americans should be able to do whatever they want, provided that what they are doing does not infringe upon the rights of others. All my opponent says is that "it goes against the rights of others". There is not a single reason, let alone any piece of evidence, to believe that this is true. Private marijuana use within one's own home should not be the concern of anyone else, because it does not harm anyone else (and, as I have shown, it doesn't even hurt the person who is using it). My opponent makes some speculative argument that cannabis can lead to other crimes, but he has still not shown any viable evidence for this.
I appreciate my opponent's effort, however he has failed to maturely or convincingly refute any of my 5 contentions. Legalizing weed creates money, saves money, solves other crimes, reduces institutional racism, creates a safer society, and promotes basic freedoms to which responsible Americans should be entitled. Even though my opponent tries to say otherwise, marijuana is not harmful, and it does not lead to increased crime. Please vote Pro, for lack of a better alternative.
Omniscient_Debater forfeited this round.
Omniscient_Debater forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by David_Debates 8 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: See here for RFD: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cRofDERLcrY1J8wKEH4qkeJx0fY3B6Wx_9OHwY8Z0q0/edit
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