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Should hard drugs be legalized?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,676 times Debate No: 30879
Debate Rounds (4)
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I will be arguing in favor of legalizing hard narcotics (e.g. meth, heroin, cocaine, etc.)

This isn't from an American standpoint, since states' rights become an issue constitutionally and the argument gets complicated. This is more in a vacuum. I suppose this could be imagined as a proposition for a state to legalize hard drugs. Or just an imaginary country making a new law. The point is that drug legalization can and will work; drug prohibition has failed and will always do so.

Thanks so much,


Cocaine and meth are not narcotics but that's a semantic point and uninteresting. Cocaine costs about $80 / a gram for stepped on crap if it was legalized it would cost less than ten bucks for a gram and be as pure as the driven snow. Clearly the marginal cocaine consumer, the person who is on the fence about buying cocaine when it's of terrible purity and such a high price is going to leap at the chance to buy some primo stuff for a fraction of the price. Add in the criminal penalities and it's obvious that many people who want to consume cocaine will not because of prohibition.

It's bad for people to do drugs, criminalizing drug use leads to fewer people using therefor retain the ban on illegal drugs.
Debate Round No. 1



Sorry about the narcotics thing. Totally wasn't thinking.

First, I'll answer some of your arguments.

Yes, legalizing drugs would certainly result in a decrease in prices. But there's 2 factors you're missing. First, all drugs being legal means all prices go down proportionally. Soft drugs sell for more than hard ones in the black market, since more people want to smoke marijuana than meth, for example.

What happens, to quote Milton Friedman, is that "The effect of criminalization is to drive people from mild drugs to strong drugs... Crack would never have existed in my opinion if you had not had drug prohibition. It was drug prohibition- why was crack created? Because cocaine was so expensive."

So, basically, if prices of drugs go down, less people will use hard drugs logically speaking. Would you rather have the people around you smoking weed or meth?

Your main argument, however, is an assumption. You assume that:

1. Prohibition keeps people from using drugs
2. Legalization results in people using more drugs

First, the idea that prohibition prevents drug use is flat out untrue. Take a look at this chart: Basically, drug use has stayed the exact same in America for 40 years, despite enormous increases in prohibition spending. So your first assumption is proven wrong.

Second, the idea that legalization results in increased use is equally untrue when it has been tested. Take a look at Portugal. Portugal decriminalized all drugs 10-some years ago. According your argument, use should have skyrocketed since the prohibition faded away. The opposite happened.

"Following decriminalization, Portugal eventually found itself with the lowest rates of marijuana usage in people over 15 in the EU: about 10%. Compare this to the 40% of people over 12 who regularly smoke pot in the U.S., a country with some of the most punitive drugs laws in the developed world.

Drug use of all kinds has declined in Portugal: Lifetime use among seventh to ninth graders fell from 14.01% to 10.6%.

Lifetime heroin use among 16-18 year olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8%.

And what about those horrific HIV infection rates that prompted the move in the first place? HIV infection rates among drug users fell by an incredible 17%, while drug related deaths were reduced by more than half." - Paul O' Neill (these are universally agreed upon facts; look them up more if you don't believe me)

An additional fact he failed to mentioned is that heroin use diminished by 50% in the last ten years.

Holland had similar results - check their facts out if you don't believe me. To quote their drug czar, they "successful made marijuana boring" by decriminalizing it. Here's why: teenagers often take marijuana or soft drugs out of a desire to feel cool or rebellious. In many cases, the drug being legal would take the "fun out of it." And, as I already mentioned, hard drug use would enormously decline with legalization of all drugs. So there you have it. Less weed, less hard stuff.

Finally, you say "It's bad for people to do drugs." I agree. But it's also bad for people to read bad books. It's bad to watch bad movies. It's bad to say bad things. It's bad to be mean to people. Should all these be illegal too? Ronald Reagan once said it was "one of our sacred rights to be stupid." Why can't we choose to be stupid with our own lives and bodies? Why does the government need to refuse to allow us to make bad decisions? Should obesity be illegal? On and on and on and on. It's not the government's job to make "free people's" decisions for them, is it?

Now for my arguments.

1. America is over $16 trillion in debt. We need all the money we can possibly get. About half of all federal prisoners are there for drug offenses (Carson, E. Ann, and Sabol, William J., "Prisoners in 2011" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2012), NCJ239808, Table 9, p. 9, and Table 11, 10.).

According to U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice, we spend more than $1 billion in taxes every year keeping prisoners in prison solely for marijuana use/possession/sale.

This is big stuff. Keeping half of our federal prisoners in prison is a huge tax burden. Legalizing drugs would save taxpayers and businesses boatloads of money.

Aside from this, America spends around $250 billion a year on drugs. Think of how much tax revenue that consumption'd generate if drugs were legally regulated, sold, and taxed. I don't believe crime would increase if drugs were legal, but even if they were - we'd sure have some money to throw to law enforcement with all that extra tax revenue.

2. There is a moral side to legalizing drugs. By keeping drugs illegal, the Mexican drug cartels prosper. There are no cigarette or wine cartels, because those things are legal. According to New York Times, there have been 60,000 drug-related killings in the last 6 years alone (obviously mainly by the cartels) - more than 20 times the deaths that occurred on 9/11.

Is this really an ethical price you want to pay just to keep people from putting bad things in their bodies? Why keep cartels in power?

3. The most important reason, to me, is freedom. I think it's a bad choice for people to go into debt. I think it leads to problems in both their lives and others' lives. But that doesn't mean I want using a credit card to be against the law.

Freedom to make decisions is absolutely essential to good government. Your username calls you a Libertarian - do you disagree with me?

"Once the principle is admitted that it is the duty of the government to protect the individual against his own foolishness, why not prevent him from reading bad books and bad plays...? The mischief done by bad ideologies is more pernicious...than that done by narcotic drugs." - Ludwig von Mises

We aren't here to elect a government that makes sure nobody around us is allowed to make dumb decisions. It's frankly not my business what my neighbor puts in his body.

In closing, I'll quote Abraham Lincoln: "I believe that every individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruits of his labor, so far as it in no way interferes with any other men's rights."

Thanks so much for your response,


You either failed to understand my argument or willfully ignored it. Portugal decriminalized drugs. This means reduced penalties for possession but still draconian penalties for trafficing ergo the price of drugs is still unaffected and this example does exactly nothing to disprove my argument.

Do you think that people don't care about price when purchasing a product? Clearly they do. If pork was $800 for a chip and lamb was $5 for a chop, people are going to choose lamb or some other protein source. If illegal drugs are $800 to get high and alcohol is $5 to get drunk, people are going to overwhelmingly choose alcohol. Prohibition works, it prevents people from using drugs. Your chart, incidentally, doesn't talk about use, it talks about addiction rate but unfortunately there's no way for me to check out the methodology because you linked to an image and not the paper.

Soft drugs, under prohibition, are relatively inexpensive. It costs just a couple dollars to get high on marijuana and dozens of dollars to get high on cocaine or ketamine. Full legalization would make all drugs incredibly inexpensive. Prohibition means most drug uses will use pot, which is affordable for almost anyone, even under prohibition. Legalization means that hard drugs will cost as much as aspirin. This isn't going to get people not to use them; anyone who is even thinking about using these drugs now, under prohibition, when it's extremely expensive and can land you in prison for many years, will be much more likely to use them when there are no legal repercussions and they cost about as much as cough syrup.

You present a dizzying array of statistics. But do these numbers really tell an accurate story? Do people always tell the truth when answering questions about drug use? There is a huge social stigma, and despite the alleged decriminalization in Portugal, simply POSSESSION can STILL land you in jail. The fact that you think 40% of the people in the USA ROUTINELY smoke marijuana speaks to the credibility of your statistics right there. Are you just making these numbers up as you go along? Interesting that you didn't feel the need to cite the hat you pulled these numbers out of.

Your solution to the fiscal crisis is to let all the drug dealers back on the streets, where they can go around victimizing people, getting children hooked on smack and breaking into people's homes? These guys are criminals. It's false economy to say 'hey, we can save a bunch of money by letting a bunch of thugs out of jail'. The costs will be born by communities, by our children, when they wake up in a society which has given up on morality. Is the freedom to get our kids hooked on addictive drugs really the freedom on which America was founded? Shouldn't those who prey on the naive and vulnerable be locked up to protect society from their depredations?

Abraham Lincoln was a brutal autocratic tyrant. He locked up political dissidents and shut down newspapers which were hostile to his regime. He's probably not someone you want to deputize into your argument if you want to wax poetic about freedom.

Debate Round No. 2


chrisiacovetti forfeited this round.


ZakYoungTheLibertarian forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


chrisiacovetti forfeited this round.


ZakYoungTheLibertarian forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by ZakYoungTheLibertarian 3 years ago
fwiw I am personally in favour of legalization all drugs.
Posted by chrisiacovetti 3 years ago
Thinking of it, you're right. Let's pretend there's no 10th Amendment. As though states rights' didn't exist, hard drugs should be legalized in America.
Posted by chrisiacovetti 3 years ago
Khaos_Mage - Yes, I think you're understanding what I meant.

I can't argue that the Federal American Government should legalize hard drugs, since the 10th Amendment leaves them up to the states. (I know there are federal drug laws, but in my view their just unconstitutional).

So, I could argue that:

a) a certain state should legalize hard drugs
b) assuming they all wanted to, it would be best for all states to legalize hard drugs

Does this make sense?
Posted by Khaos_Mage 3 years ago
I might accept this if it could be based on American legal heritage, but agree to not make state's rights an issue. For example, all states allowed this at the same time vs. all states should refrain.

I assume you are referring to the confusion from federal laws vs. state laws, and crossing state lines to get meth and use in neighboring states.
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