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The Contender
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Should Marijuana be legalized by the federal government?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 225 times Debate No: 91475
Debate Rounds (5)
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First round is acceptance of debate.
No new arguments in 5th round, just conclusion of points.


I accept. Could you define "legalized"?
Debate Round No. 1


legalized: make (something that was previously illegal) permissible by law. In the case of marijuana allowing recreational use and eliminating marijuana from the controlled substances act. Legalizing marijuana on the federal level would solve many of this countries crisis, as well as allow more energy to stop harmful drugs from reaching the american population. There is no evidence to suggest that legalizing marijuana over a certain age is any more harmful than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, both are customs both legal and at times encouraged in american society. By taxing the sell of legal marijuana its been estimated the government could earn $6 billion per year. The government would also save another $7.7 billion on enforcement of marijuana( Colorado alone made 53 Million last year that they are now putting into children's education( Besides this though, it would allow the federal government to reevaluate the phony drug war that has costed tax payers 15 billion in 2010. By eliminating weed from their focus, which is the majority of the arrests. They can focus on stopping serious drugs like cocaine from crossing our borders. Nearly half of all drug related arrests were for marijuana, and 88% of those were simply possession, and not distribution. By decriminalizing marijuana we could release 620k citizens back onto the streets, decluttering jails and leaving room for actual criminals who need to be rehabilitated. (


Contention 1: Economic costs

I will split this into two points.

  1. a. Employment

My opponent will obviously bring up some sort of economic point about taxing marijuana. This is a problem as when we legalize marijuana, we see decreases in employment, which outweigh any government revenue due to the fact that lives outweigh government revenue. First, we will observe the National Bureau of Economic Research where it is stated that when legalized for medical purposes, on average, the rate of people on marijuana will increase by approximately 12%. I will also confirm this with a real life model. According to CNBC in 2010, when marijuana was legalized in Alaska, teen marijuana use jumped to twice the national average. With this in mind, we must realize that marijuana use will increase. What I am driving at, however, is the direct link to that of the workplace. If we were to look at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, marijuana reduces job prospects and is also one of the most popular drug purchased and used illegally. However, we see a direct link between unemployment and usage of marijuana. This link is explored by Al Jazeera in 2013 where it is shown that 1/6 people who are unemployed abuse alcohol or drugs. This is explored further by the St. Louis Federal Bank as well when it is shown that those who suffer from drug addiction are most likely addicted to drugs.

  1. b. Health care costs

Marijuana is a dangerous drug to human health. If we were to look at USA Today in 2014, we would be observing the fact that from 1995 to 2013, the potency of THC within marijuana had increased from 3.75% to 12.98%. This general trend is important, because there are permanent damages that can occur from ingesting marijuana. If we turn look at USA Today yet again, we can see that there were over 450,000 emergency visits stemming from marijuana. Not only is this a harm to people, this is also a harm to our economy. If we were to look at the previously mentioned National Bureau of Economic Research, we would see the following

“The authors note that the 6 to 9 percent increase in frequency of adult binge drinking, along with an estimated increase in the probability of simultaneous use of marijuana and alcohol of 15 to 22 percent, suggests that legalization could result in “considerable economic and social costs from downstream health care expenditures and productivity loss.”

This is important considering the price of health care already to the everyday consumer. In fact, according to CNS News, the Obamacare program starts taxes on those regardless if they have an Obamacare plan or not to cover the healthcare costs for those who cannot afford it. This increase in rushes to the emergency room and chronic harms that come from the use of marijuana will definitely spike the cost of healthcare. In fact, the symptoms listed on WebMD showcase some of the permanent effects of marijuana consumption, including heart problems and may lead to a heart attack due to an increased heart rate.

Contention 2: Lives

When we look at the debate, we can surely see the economic harms of legalization. However, we also need to look toward the obvious harms to the person addicted. I have already proven the fact that by passing today’s resolution we see increased amounts of people using marijuana. However, let us look at the statistics again. The National Bureau of Economic Research has shown that the percentage of users increased by over 10% when marijuana was legalized for medical use. However, what would happen if it were legal completely? We would be seeing huge amounts of people trying out marijuana as well. With this fact in mind, we need to see the health risks in more detail. Sure, I have already mentioned heart attacks as a problem which many face due to marijuana, but how prevalent is this in the status quo? Well, according to ABC News in 2015, we can see the following quote

“A new study from Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School says marijuana increases the risk of having a heart attack within the first hour of smoking to five times that of non-smokers.”

This is the severity of the problem in one, concise sentence. We cannot be harming the American people in this manner. However, this goes deeper. If we were to make marijuana more available, we would be disproportionately harming the poor. My opponent may bring up the decrease in marijuana use for the middle class, but this is not so for the lower class. If were to look at Dual Diagnosis, we would be able to see the following:

“In essence, the risk factors that predispose people to substance abuse and addiction are more prevalent in lower economic areas and families than in others.”

Of course this is not to say that all poor families do drugs or even more poor families use marijuana, simply that if one is not predisposed to the education and forethought necessary, and if you live in a more impoverished home, the chances are not in your favor as far as addiction to marijuana. With this, we see that impoverished families will be hit hardest due to increased availability of marijuana. We need to weigh the lives of the people in the debate and negate.

Contention 3: Counter plan

My opponent has the best intentions by proposing today’s resolution, however with all of the harms mentioned we need to look toward a different solution. Instead of legalizing marijuana use, we need to decriminalize it by making sure that those who do get arrested receive shortened sentences and drug therapy which would be proven effective on the prison population. The price of treatment is not only far lower than incarceration at a measly $4,700 as opposed to the $20,000 price for incarceration, but it would prove to be effective as shown by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. According to News Briefs, there are clear signs that treatment is the best option as shown by the following:

“Drug treatment can cut crime by 80%, said Brown University addiction director Norman Hoffman. Brown researcher Craig Love studied female substance abusers who were in jail, and found that 25% who underwent treatment were later rearrested, compared to 62% of those released without substance abuse treatment who were rearrested.”

What can clearly be seen from this is the direct effect of therapy on the imprisoned population for those addicted to drugs. Remember, many people can’t afford the treatment, so my counterplan also involves expanding treatment programs to the prison population.

Rebuttal time

Rebuttal 1: Similarity to alcohol and smoking

I concede the fact that there are inherent similarities between marijuana and alcohol, but we need to look at the debate and realize that marijuana is popular among the lower class and will continue to grow in popularity if we do not address it effectively.

Rebuttal 2: Costly

Yet again, I agree with my opponent that the war on drugs was a waste. But complete legalization is not the way to go either. Instead, we should use my counter plan which would prevent economic loss from decreased employment and the harm on people’s lives through legalizing marijuana.

Debate Round No. 2



a: employment: obviously if marijuana is legalized it will see an increase in use, I have read the Al Jazeera story on this, but it does not say what substances it made its conclusions on, it simply says alcohol and substance abuse, and in fact it stated alcohol was the most widespread of the substances used, so this story does share any insight on marijuana use specifically, rather substance abuse which includes things like cocaine and heroine. And in the same study done by St. Louis Federal Bank it was concluded by economists Alejandro Badel and Brian Greaney that the use of marijuana was more an effect of unemployment, not a cause because when unemployment rose from 5% to 10% there was no change in the use of marijuana.

b: health care: "The most common reason someone goes to the ER for a marijuana reaction is anxiety," says Dr. Larry Bedard, former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. Anxiety is a symptom from people who are first experiencing the drug and do not understand the natural side effects. This number will go down as more people experience it. Another cause is addressed by Dr. Andrew Monte, who did a study with Northwestern Medicine said that it is this increase in potency that you addressed that is causing the hospital visits, meaning that they used too much, another symptom that will result in less ER visits as people become educated on using marijuana safely.

Lives: the odds of a having a heart attack go back down to the normal risk 3 hours after consumption. But I will concede to a label on the packaging warning people who have a higher chance of heart attack to avoid consumption absolutely, but to most adults marijuana would prove little risk as their risk for heart attack is already so low. Now again when you mention Dual Diagnosis is this data is not reliable as it refers to substance abuse in general, this debate is not decriminalizing substance abuse, just on marijuana, and most of your data appears to be on substance abuse in general.Marijuana is also far less addictive than other substances, a study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 30% of users found some sort of use disorder, which is only considered addiction in rare cases.

Counter Plan: By decriminalizing it to say a fine it does not fix the concerns you share above. If you are willing to make it a fine and get people out of jail you are concluding that marijuana poses no harm to the individuals around a user, proving no need for rehabilitation. And yet again this study done by Brown university focuses on substance abuse as a whole and does not analyze the specifics of marijuana.

Rebuttal to the Rebuttal

1) the whole point is that it poses minimal to no risk to individuals and it should be available for use by the working class and should be allowed to grow in popularity without restriction.

2) unemployment had no correlation with marijuana use, which was concluded from the St. Louis study you mentioned earlier. So by "treating" something that requires no treatment, it may be cheaper then incarceration, but is unnecessary and would still cost money. It would also not add any revenue that legalizing would from the tax charged on its sale.


Rebuttal 1: Employment

My opponent claims that my evidence is insufficient in supporting the fact that marijuana leads to unemployment. Regardless of my opponent’s statement, le t us analyze what he is saying: that marijuana is the effect of unemployment. I will concede that some people did not become addicted to marijuana until they lost their job, but this is not what we need to focus on. We need to focus on the fact that the marijuana consumption did not go down. In an economic recession, people do not have the amount of money as before to spend on drugs. My St. Louis study has offered a few reasons why. One of them is the fact that many people who lost their jobs during the great succession already were addicted to drugs. The study finds that there was also a sampling error in previous studies which show the fact that while the sample in many studies included a large portion of the population, they did not account for the “new” unemployed people.

“The sample used in the survey may not have been representative of the national population of unemployed persons. Under a severe sampling error, it is possible that the survey did not sufficiently cover the "new" group of unemployed people that appeared during the Great Recession. We found some evidence that this hypothesis is at work by observing that the rise in the unemployment rate within the survey sample, although large, is smaller than the national rise during the Great Recession.

With the amount of people left uncovered in other studies, it is quite possible that large portions of people were left out of the national average which would have resulted in higher showings of marijuana use. So, remember, the fact that the figure representing the amount of people who used marijuana remained the same within the economic crisis as opposed to dropping like it should have, according to my St. Louis card, we can see increases in marijuana use.

Also, my opponent has stated that marijuana use does not decrease employment, it is simply is the result of unemployment. This is untrue according to my evidence which remains unrefuted. However, if my opponent is still unconvinced, I will support my claim with more evidence.

Forbes has stated the following in 2014:

“Drug abusers are more likely to become sick or injured, are less productive, can be more distracting to co-workers, have increased absenteeism, and can be a danger to themselves or others. Maintaining a drug-free workplace is important for the safety, health, and productivity of all employees.”
Inevitably, this will cause many to get fired, decreasing employment and productivity.

USA Today in 2014 also states that marijuana leads to increases of fatal car crashes through citing a Columbia University study, which means employees on the road are at a higher risk of death, obviously getting rid of some employment due to the high chance of death.

Rebuttal 2: Health care costs

I understand that my opponent has stated that that the cost in health care will decrease once people know how to effectively use marijuana. This is a bare assertion not supported by evidence. For all we know, people will not be able to find the right dosage or the right way to use marijuana, if there is such a thing. Not only this, but if it were easy to moderate the use of marijuana, the amount of people ending up in the ER should not be increasing in number in the status quo. However, I have proven the fact that even using marijuana increases the chance for a heart attack exponentially within the first hour of use with my WebMD statistic. This is a risk no one should take. There are other permanent damages as many are finding links to lung problems with smoking marijuana. According to the American Lung Association, we see that there are clear signs of damage to the lung with smoking marijuana, which is the most common type of ingestion, through injuring cell linings in large airways, which can cause chronic bronchitis.

These diseases would cause the price of health care to rise for consumers in the form of taxes to pay for others care as well. The fact that your entire rebuttal is not only a theory but does not address the long term impact of using marijuana is also a problem. Thus, we negate.

Rebuttal 3: Lives

My opponent has stated that since after three hours the heart attack rate drops back to normal levels, it shouldn’t be a problem. Considering the fact that for a long period of time the likeliness for heart attacks has increased substantially, it is not worth the risk. Regardless of whether the likeliness drops back to normal, the heart rate has still increased enough to cause potential heart attacks which have killed in the past. My ABC News report also said this:

“Mittleman and colleagues interviewed more than 3,880 men and women aged 20 to 92 who had suffered heart attacks to determine what activities were most likely to happen just before a heart attack, during a time frame the doctors call the "hazard period."

One-hundred-and-twenty-four subjects said they had smoked marijuana within the year before their heart attack”

This shows the real life impact of heart problems dealing with marijuana. Since lives are important in this debate, we must negate.

Rebuttal 4: Counter plan

No, I have stated the fact that marijuana is dangerous, but therapy is the best solution. The reason we decriminalize the drug is to prevent prison costs and look toward the bigger issue at hand, which is the addiction to begin with as well as the drug abuse which leads to life threatening changes to occur in the body. Also, the Brown University study takes into account marijuana as well, meaning there is a correlation.

Rebuttal 5: Minimal to no risk

Let us get rid of the notion that there is little to no risk in using marijuana. The risks clearly exist. I have already proved the fact that increased risk for heart attacks and correlations with lung problems exist, however I will find some more.

Forbes in 2014 has shown links of marijuana to psychotic symptoms. Less attainment in school, changes within the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, and even a mild linkage to schizophrenia.

These are not acute problems, these are huge problems that the American people simply can’t moderate for themselves. In the end, therapy in the end will be the best possible solution to the problem of addiction to marijuana.

Rebuttal 6:­ No correlation to unemployment

I have already proved in my first response in this argument that this sentiment is false entirely. However, I will also show you the effect of marijuana on school achievement, which may lead to unemployment as well. USA Today in 2013 cites a study from the University of Maryland that shows the following

  1. 1. Chronic use can mean 8 less IQ points
  2. 2. Marijuana use leads to more classes skipped on average.
  3. 3. “Even infrequent users — those who smoked about twice a month — were 66% more likely than minimal users to be discontinuously enrolled.”

This means less people in classes getting job experience and an education, and more becoming unemployed.

With this in mind, I see nothing but a negative ballot.

Debate Round No. 3


Again with every argument my opponent makes they cite drug abuse with their evidence, which includes way more than just marijuana. And yes of course there are risks if you are driving, but there is risk when driving after drinking alcohol. If this substance is no more dangerous than alcohol or smoking, there is no reason for it to be illegal at the federal level. The forbes article cites drug abusers in general, and they are citing the worse possible scenario, which means they are referring to things a lot worse than marijuana. The long term impact of marijuana is people taking less serious pain medication that has been proven to be addictive, as well as a boost to this country's income. And you cannot start citing student facts because I do not want it to be legal for children, I know the health risks associated when children use. But all your arguments have led to the conclusion that it is no worse than smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol. If you really feel as though it should remain illegal. Tell us how it is worse than existing and legal substances like alcohol and tobacco products?


Rebuttal 1: Abuse of drug

My opponent has misconstrued my argument thus far. What I said was that marijuana has harms to the human body that should mean it is continued to be illegalized. My citations clearly support this by showing how marijuana does this as well as other drugs. My citations clearly show the dangers of using marijuana recreationally. If you would like proof, here are the citations in question.

These links have a plethora of real harms specifically from marijuana which my opponent has failed to address. I have already shown the link to less achievement in school, heart attacks, and schizophrenia specifically linked to marijuana. My opponent is simply pulling at straws to suggest that my argument does not specifically address marijuana.

“The long term impact of marijuana is people taking less serious pain medication that has been proven to be addictive, as well as a boost to this country's income.”

This is not supported from reality, I have shown the impacts of taking marijuana which outweigh any sort of decrease in serious pain medicine. I also must explain that people who are prescribed with such high intensity pain medication must have it prescribed from a doctor in a legal dosage.

“…and you cannot start citing student facts because I do not want it to be legal for children, I know the health risks associated when children use.

I can because when we increase availability of marijuana, more people, including children will be taking it. Also, symptoms do not change depending on your age. Marijuana is just as dangerous regardless of who is taking it. You have already conceded that by legalizing marijuana we would increase use in your first rebuttal.

If this substance is no more dangerous than alcohol or smoking, there is no reason for it to be illegal at the federal level.

This is somewhat true, we should not keep the current system, and we need a plan. This plan was provided by me. However, we can’t legalize it completely due to the harms on the general populous that I have shown.

Rebuttal 2: Question posed

My opponent asks the following

“If you really feel as though it should remain illegal. Tell us how it is worse than existing and legal substances like alcohol and tobacco products?

Here is where I agree with my opponent. Marijuana is not any more dangerous than alcohol or smoking cigarettes. However, legalization is not the answer. I have already shown that the harms outweigh the pros. What we need to do is to give therapy to those with severe drug issues to cut back on costs as well as a fine to show that drugs are still dangerous. Complete legalization at one time will cause many problems as outlined by my previous case. However, I will also take a swing at the question asked.

It is not the fact that marijuana is worse than alcohol, it is the fact that it is raising in popularity and that complete legalization will result in more people using a harmful substance that cuts the private sector jobs and harms people.

Extend all points that are not mentioned in the final rebuttal. I would like to thank my opponent as we approach the end of the debate.


Debate Round No. 4


I feel like I have acknowledged the risks involved, but there are no products that have no harm whatsoever. The ultimate question is do the risks of smoking marijuana make it so dangerous it should not be available to society. Ultimately the risk of having a heart attack going up slightly does not equate to the need to making it illegal. Nachos, steak, and many foods can lead to an increase in the chance of a heart attack, but the choice to eat those things is a personal one, and so should be using marijuana. As for the increase in unemployment, the same St. Louis study you had mentioned, it was concluded that while their was an association there was not correlation. And again their are many things that can lead to unemployment that are completely legal. Marijuana is a substance that has had a stigma for a long time and their has been a lot of miscommunication sent out that has caused a distrust over a substance, that yes has it's risks, but is not any more dangerous than many legal substances and should ultimately be left up to the choice of the user and not the government.


As we approach the end of the debate, I would like to thank my opponent for a wonderful debate.

On to my final statements!

Statement 1: Harms

My opponent has acknowledged the fact that marijuana is an inherent harm to humans. However, this was not my argument. My argument states that if we were to affirm the resolution in the status quo, we would see consequences. We have already observed large growth in the popularity of marijuana as well as the fact that marijuana is becoming more potent, as shown by my previous statistic from USA Today. This is going to negate the entire rebuttal that my opponent has tried to show due to the increasing danger of marijuana in the present. Instead, we need to adopt the idea that I have shown, which the counter plan was. This would limit use while decreasing costs.

“Nachos, steak, and many foods can lead to an increase in the chance of a heart attack, but the choice to eat those things is a personal one, and so should be using marijuana.”

Comparing the effects of marijuana to nachos is not a link. What we are debating is not whether marijuana is harmful, but the overall effect on the US population, which my opponent has not done at this point. Thus, the burden of proof for my opponent is not reached.

Statement 2: Correlation

I have shown the effect of the legalization of marijuana with other statistics as well, but fine, I will explain this one. Yes, marijuana does increase unemployment as shown by the fact that the statistic I used showed no decrease in use once the financial crisis became big. What this shows is that the sample size is too small as pointed out by the St. Louis Federal Bank itself. Not only this, but I have shown with other statistics the connection to low achievement in school due to the marijuana’s effect on the brain during development. This matters because once legalized, the drug would become more available for more people, including children. It has been the burden of proof for the pro side to show why this is wrong as well as to refute my argument involving the linkage to schizophrenia, and he has not upheld his burden.

With that, we end the debate, vote con!

Debate Round No. 5
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