The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
6 Points

Should marijuana be legal?

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/7/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 806 times Debate No: 43541
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I want to debate someone who thinks marijuana should be legal.

1. You must use proper spelling and grammar.
2. You must cite your sources.
3. Arguments must be intelligent.

I look forward to this debate.


I will be happy to take jamccartney up on his offer of debate and argue that marajuana should be legalized in the US, as I assume that that is the location we are discussing. As he has not yet stated any arguments, I will simply use this round to accept and leave it to him to kick off the debate. Thank you for the opportunity to debate such a salient issue.
Debate Round No. 1


Hello and thank you for accepting this debate.

Round 2 will be for stating out points, either for or against recreational marijuana.
Rounds 3 & 4 will be for demonstrating our own beliefs and refuting the opinions of the opponent.

Evidently, I will be asserting my opinion that recreational marijuana should be illicit. I will give my points.

Marijuana is comparable to tobacco, which has obvious downsides.[1]
- Marijuana smokers are exposed to more smoke than cigarette smokers.
- The increased amount of carbon dioxide and tar increases the risks of a range of health problems including respiratory tract infections, bronchitis and lung cancer.[1]
- "Smoking a single marijuana joint is equivalent to smoking 2.5 to 5 cigarettes in terms of damage to the lungs, largely due to differences in how pot and cigarette users smoke."[2]
- "The Guardian reported July 31 that researchers at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand found that the deep drags taken by marijuana users, along with their penchant for holding smoke in before exhaling, can cause problems like obstructed airways and hyperinflation of the lungs. The lack of filters on marijuana joints also contributes to lung problems."[2]

As you are already aware, this round is only the foundation of the debate, which is why I did not write as much as I could. That will come in round 3. I look forward to seeing your points on the issue.



Thanks to my opponent for an informative start to the round.

Now, I'm going to provide three sets of reasons why recreational marajuana should be legal " though I will point out that it wasn't clear from the outset that we were only talking about recreational usage. I'll first do a side-by-side comparison between marajuana and legal drugs, and then at legal structures, to define my case.

So to start, on health.

1.Marijuana, as far as we know, is impossible to overdose on.[1] The only associated deaths have resulted from the use of marijuana and other drugs, particularly alcohol, which caused over 25,000 such deaths in 2010.[2] Overdose is also a huge problem cost-wise, with $223.5 billion being spent annually in the U.S. for excessive drinking.[3]
2.Marijuana is quite a bit safer than other drugs, specifically alcohol and tobacco. A Lancet study from 2010 shows that the amount of harm to others and to users is far higher for either of these drugs than it is for cannabis.[4] As we must take all harms into account, the difference here is staggering. There were similar findings in this paper when compared with alcohol.[5]
3.How about abuse? Dependency is actually much lower than tobacco in this case. The dependency of marijuana users on their drug is roughly 9-10%, while tobacco has 30% addiction rates.[6] The cost of substance abuse for marijuana is also much lower.[7]
4.I'll just briefly mention the medical benefits, as these also counterbalance the harms. It helps with insomnia [8][9], can relieve nasuea (important for cancer patients on chemotherapy), and can assist with loss of appetite in these patients as well. [10]
5.The sheer amount of harms associated with alcohol are confounding.[11] Pancreatitis, gastritis, cirrhosis, permanent dementia, physiological dependence and fatal withdrawl, just to name a few. The fact that this drug is legal while marijuana remains illegal is the height of hypocrisy.

Now, let's get into the legal structures. The harms of marijuana's being illegal are many. It has created a massive drug trade, which has fueled criminal organizations that would otherwise severely lack for funds.[12][13][14]. It overtaxes our justice system, taking law enforcement away from more important responsibilities. It's hard to estimate the costs, but lower estimates place it at about $7.7 billion a year, not to mention any costs of criminals who would otherwise be caught and confined for worse crimes staying on the streets for longer.[15] It clogs up our court systems, wastes jail space, and diverts time and effort away from violent crimes. That's not to mention that this reenforces the racism involved in arrests, as minorities are disproportionately affected.[16] Blacks account for 26% of marijuana arrests, but only 13.5% of marijuana users. The illegal status of the drug is also not at all reducing rates of use. It's estimated that over 25 million people grow it annually, making it the largest cash crop in the U.S.[17]

Meanwhile, if this were to instead be a legal product, it could be taxed like one, actually bringing funds into the government.[15] The costs of enforcement would be nonexistent, saving billions. Legalization, as stated above, would massively handicap the drug trade, reducing associated violence and death tolls.

As this round is just meant to be used to lay out our respective cases, I will refrain from response at this stage, and pass it off to my esteemed opponent, for what I"m sure will be an informative continuation of this debate.

Debate Round No. 2


jamccartney forfeited this round.


Well, I am very disappointed. I had hoped that Con would be consistently good about posting, but apparently he is not. This is an important issue, and I really wanted to have it out over marijuana legalization. Sadly, it appears that this debate ends here.

As he has forfeited his last round, it is my duty alone to clarify the round and provide reasons why voters should prefer my arguments. Since there was no rebuttal in the last round, I will have to engage in some of it here.

Con starts by stating some harms of marijuana usage. I'll accept most of the health claims here as factual, save one. The link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer, for example, isn't nearly so solid as the link between tobacco and lung cancer.[1] This also ignores the large number of carcinogens in cigarettes [2], which go well beyond lung problems, having been linked to cancers of the larynx, esophagus, pancreus, bladder cancer, leukemia, skin cancers, neoplasms, adenomas, adenocarcinomas, and untold other issues that go beyond cancer [3].

Con's other link focuses on similar data, but with the addition of this issue of filters. This ignores three issues. One, that the legalization of marijuana could well lead to the usage of filters as they are openly marketed to a health-conscious public. That's not to mention that the higher smoke-producing versions would likely be substituted for more potent ones.[4] Two, filters aren't nearly so good as he makes them out to be. The filter actually adds chemical additives to the cigarettes that speed up the rate at which nicotine is delivered to the brain. What's more, they simply don't work. Filters work well if you happen to be a special machine manufactured by the tobacco industry, but people have these things called "lips" and "fingers" that cover up the holes. Smokers of filtered brands also end up inhaling deeper, taking more frequent puffs, and holding the smoke in their lungs longer.[5] And three, it ignores the dependency issues I discussed earlier. The dependency created by nicotine addiction leads to the inhalation of far more smoke on the whole by cigarette smokers, making the harms worse for them on the whole.


Now, how should voters view this debate?

We never clarified what the burdens are in this round. By taking the stance that marijuana must remain illegal, Con took on two major burdens.

1) Con must have proved that marijuana presents as a substantial danger to society in a way that currently legalized drugs do not
2) Con must have proved that marijuana being illegal is beneficial

These may sound the same. They are not. For the first, the onus is on Con to showcase the harms marijuana causes as a drug, and the dangers it presents to society as a result of its usage. It is not enough to show that it is harmful " Con must prove that it is harmful enough to warrant remaining illegal. For the second, Con must take it one step further; he has to show how making marijuana illegal benefits society without causing too many external harms. Even if Con answers the first of these well, he can lose simply because making marijuana illegal does more harm than good for society.

Given these burdens, here's a rundown of the debate.

Con argues that there are significant health harms associated with marijuana usage. I have shown that those health harms are no worse than those caused by tobacco - if anything, they're far less. I have also shown that the harms caused by alcohol usage are significantly higher. Whether we're talking about harms to themselves or harms to others, marijuana simply doesn't rise to the level of harm that Con purports, and as our legal system should be consistent in terms of why it bans one drug and not another, there is no reason to keep this ban based off of health harms. In this, Con has failed to win on his first burden.

But his failure on the second is far more damaging. By forfeiting, he has not provided a single response to the many harms I characterized in my last post that are associated with keeping the ban in place. Even if voters find themselves swayed by some of his arguments of the harms of marijuana usage, every single one he provides is to the user and no one else. These harms have far wider effect and are incredibly damaging.

So voters should look at this round on balance. Has Con proven that the harms of marijuana usage to the drug user or those around him/her are significantly higher than those associated with already legal drugs? No. Has Con shown that keeping marijuana illegal will alleviate any harms of the drug? No. Has Con even shown that keeping it illegal won't cause further harms? No. It's a simple decision. Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Orieles 2 years ago
I'm pretty interested in this.
Posted by Debater-0122 2 years ago
I look forward to this debate as well. Colorado already legalized the usage of marijuana. I would like to see both pro and con using variety of resources and evidence to back up their assertions. Also, I would like to see rebuttal and clarifications if necessary. I would love it if pro defines the term so that it will be more compelling debate. Again I look forward to this debate!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheLastMan 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct goes to Pro because Con forfieted. Points for convincing argument goes to Pro because Con refuted none of the arguments presented by Pro. Con has not proven that the harms of marijuana usage to the drug user or those around him/her are significantly higher than those associated with already legal drugs. Con has not shown that keeping marijuana illegal will alleviate any harms of the drug. Con has not even shown that keeping it illegal won't cause further harms. Pro used more sources and his sources were reliable enough too.