The U.S Government should legalize recreational marijuana.
The Burden of Proof is on Pro. Con must simply refute my case and show it should *not* be legalized.
The debates will be 4 rounds with 5k character limits. Ideally this will be kept under 4k characters though.
Legalize: Make (something that was previously illegal) permissible by law.
Recreational: Relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.
1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling or semantics
6. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add definitions
7. No Kritiks
8. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up may merit a loss.
R2. Pro's case, Con rebuttals
R4. Rebuttals and conclusion.
I thank Kasmic for accepting this debate, I look forward to seeing what the opposition has to offer.
1. Freedom of Autonomy
Famous British philosopher, and political economist, John Stuart Mill theorized that, "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others".
People should have the right to exercise their autonomy. As the quote above suggests, the only time this can be rightfully restricted is to prevent harm to others. The Government has *no responsibility* to ensure individuals do not harm themselves. This is patently obvious, as dangerous and even lethal activities are not illegal, such as smoking tobacco or GrandPrix racing, the latter killing 1/100 participants .
Con will need to show that marijuana itself creates a significant enough harm to others, in order to justify marijuana’s illegality. Not only that, but he must demonstrate this harm to others is *greater than or on par at-least* with the harms that the U.S status quo already permits. It would be *illogical* to have one thing be illegal based on its harm to others, just to turn around and permit something of even greater harm.
2. Low Level of Harm to Self and Others
The possible harms associated with several others substances are already legal and significantly more detrimental to society and the individuals themselves. The chart below  illustrates the level of harm substances have on their users and those around them.
3. Benefits from Regulation
There are several benefits to be had from regulating marijuana on a federal/state level.
a) Taxation: It should go without saying that the government benefits from the high revenue taxes generate on tobacco and alcohol. It is estimated that the legalization and regulation of marijuana could generate approximately *8.7 Billion* dollars in tax revenue . This alone is a huge benefit worth the possible harm that legalized marijuana may pose.
b) Safety and Reduction of the Black Market: With an easily accessible and safe source, people will not be at risk of obtaining laced drugs or poorly maintained products. Both of which contribute to further reducing the possibility of harming oneself or those around them. Additionally, this takes away revenue from the black market which helps to diminish its existence in the U.S. With the legalization of recreational marijuana in several states, NPR reported that the price of a kilogram of weed as gone from 90$ to 30$, making the illegal industry less worthwhile 
c) Job Creation: In order to regulate marijuana there will need to be jobs to do so! Jobs in which will involve things such as business management, plant growing, product selling, and even cooking will inevitably be created. In turn further stimulating the economy. With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, they saw a creation of upwards of 10,000 jobs .
Conclusion: Given the great benefits to be reaped from the legalization of marijuana, and the significantly lower harm it possess than what the status quo allows, I believe marijuana should be legalized.
Thanks again to Kozu for this debate should be fun!
Thank you Kasmic,
Note: This debate is intended to act as a policy change debate. So an idealist position is not valid if it conflicts with the status quo or isn’t possible to enact. No court would accept outlawing anything based on a *potential harm*, to argue they should, as Con has, would result in absurdities such as outlawing cars.
Con does not contest Mill’s theory. He does however try and argue it to the letter. This however is idealistic and isn’t feasible without limiting more of ones “freedom of autonomy”. I will expand on this in the rebuttals.
It would seem Con agrees (by not refuting my chart), that marijuana is significantly less dangerous than alcohol. Though he doesn’t have to defend the legality of alcohol, he does have to argue that legalizing marijuana is more dangerous in some shape or form than alcohol, in order to justify why it shouldn’t be legalized.
Con concedes all three of the benefits legalizing marijuana would have. He does not however, demonstrate why marijuana’s potential harm outweighs these benefits. I believe I have done more than enough to demonstrate the benefits do outweigh. He compares the harms of marijuana to that of child prostution, but this results in a *direct harm* in the form of rape.
The quote I provided from Mill was to demonstrate a basic concept of when autonomy ought to be limited. It is primarily used to justify laws against things like murder or assault, crimes that result in a *direct harm*, that is to say, doing these things *will always* cause harm to others. This is entirely different from a *potential harm*, in other words, it is not guaranteed to cause harm to others. I would find it near impossible to point out any kind of activity or action that didn’t possess some kind of potential harm to others.
Driving has the potential harm to injure other persons, but we shouldn’t outlaw cars just because there is a potential risk someone may be harmed. Similarly, just because there is merely a possibility of harming others by smoking marijuana, that doesn’t mean we should outlaw it. Outlawing these things would be limiting autonomy even more.
So, as much as Con would like to turn Mill’s quote against me, it simply doesn’t apply to marijuana. It only deals with “direct harms”, not potential harms.
I accept that marijuana causes harm to a certain degree. However, I don’t believe this potential harm outweighs the benefits of freedom, taxation, safety, and job creation.
Don’t take my word for it though, the U.S government has already recognized substances like tobacco and alcohol, which I have proven possess a greater potential harm than marijuana, are already accepted as having benefits that outweigh their costs. Benefits like the ones given above.
As I stated in R2, it is *illogical* that we should allow a more dangerous potential harm, only to backtrack and state we shouldn’t allow that which has less potential harm. Furthermore, Con has not demonstrated how these potential harms outweigh the benefits, he only makes a *bare assertion* that they do.
In this rebuttal Con states that I must accept legalizing all drugs based on the chart I provided. I have no problem with that, although like Con states, this debate is about marijuana and not about other substances. All I must do is justify that the benefits of marijuana outweigh its potential harms. Benefits like freedom, taxation, safety, and job creation all easily outweigh these potential harms.
Con needs to justify why the U.S shouldn’t legalize marijuana despite the lack of laws surrounding tobacco and alcohol. The only way he can do this is if he can find some unmentioned harm that outweighs the benefits of legalization.
Pro claims that I am taking Mill to the letter of the law. This is not true, the concept he presents is a criteria to determine if a law is just. A ban on marijuana meets this criteria. Pro says “This debate is intended to act as a policy change debate. So an idealist position is not valid…” This is amusing as my opponent opened his arguments with a quote from a philosopher. Clearly this debate is as much idealism as policy. Pro says “The quote I provided from Mill was to demonstrate a basic concept of when autonomy ought to be limited.” This further shows that my opponent started his arguments with an ideal and so arguing ideals is as valid as any other argument here presented. We can conclude that the status quo is just.
Pro says “So, as much as Con would like to turn Mill’s quote against me, it simply doesn’t apply to marijuana. It only deals with “direct harms”, not potential harms.” The harms I listed are not potential harms, they are real and documented as shown by my source last round.
This aside, lets take a deeper look into the likely harm that will result from the legalization of Marijuana.
The harm extended:
Last round I demonstrated the harms that exist. Pro said “I accept that marijuana causes harm to a certain degree. However, I don’t believe this potential harm outweighs the benefits of freedom, taxation, safety, and job creation.”
"There is the Denver man who, hours after buying a package of marijuana-infused Karma Kandy from one of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana shops, began raving about the end of the world and then pulled a handgun from the family safe and killed his wife, the authorities say."
You tell me, Is this man’s dead wife more free? Is this man’s family more safe? Is this harm hypothetical? Pro welcomes this result as a resonable cost outeighted by benifits. In addition to the well documented harm associated with Marijuana use, we can see that legalizing it is likely to increase harm.
The result of legal tobacco:
The sad truth is having a legalized drug that causes harm, like tobacco, is it leads to a large industry that profits off people addicted and suffering from their product. Where jobs created… yes, what is the cost!?
“Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.” (2)
“If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today.” (2)
The result of legal alcohol
“excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion, or $1.90 a drink.” (3)
By allowing harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco to be legal, our society has monetized a human life. Profits are made and jobs created but society pays the ultimate price in life’s lost. The same would be true if we legalized Marijuana. This is why the status quo should remain intact. The harms of legalizing a harmful substance far out-weigh the benefits of legalization.
Pro accepted the burden of proof in this debate. Thus far we see that a law outlawing marijuana is just. Pro has argued that outlawing marijuana and allowing other substances like cigarettes and alcohol is not reasonable. I agree. We can see that the legal status of these substances has not negated the harm they bring. In many ways it has expanded the harm. Corporations can now profit of the addictions and lives of consumers. While this creates jobs, it costs lives. Marijuana is harmful, both to the consumer and those around them. Because of this harm, and the added harm that would come from large corporate backing Marijuana should remain illegal.
For my final round I will affirm my own case and attempt to group the responses to Con’s rebuttals within my contentions.
By taking an idealist interpretation of Mill’s quote, Con’s plan would result in absurdities such as banning cars, Con does not respond to this problem. I take a position of a *realist* interpretation of the quote, as does the U.S government. Both me and the U.S government understand the differences between *direct harms* and *potential harms*. That’s why murder is illegal (results in a direct harm), and smoking tobacco isn’t illegal (potentially harmful). I am not claiming that the harms of marijuana aren’t real or don’t exist, I’m simply stating they could be a *potential* problem depending on the user. This sort of statement can’t be used against laws that prohibit murder though, because murder will *always* harm someone regardless of the user.
Like having a glass of scotch at night, smoking a bowl of marijuana does not guarantee any specific harm-to-others will occur. Even if it did, the status quo already permits these harm-to-others, and unless Con demonstrates that marijuana possess a greater harm-to-others than alcohol, it is *illogical* to say marijuana shouldn’t be legal. This means Con *must* refute my chart I have provided in R2.
(This contention stands so long as I win my “Low Level of Harm to Self and Others” contention, something which is standing extremely strong as of R4.)
So far Con has chosen not to address my chart. I can only conclude that he agrees with it and that alcohol is significantly more of a net-detriment to its users and those around them. This alone is overwhelming justification for the legalization of marijuana.
Con does make an attempt to *cherry pick* a case in which someone had bought marijuana infused candies and hour later ends up murdering his wife
However his very source betrays him a paragraph or two down saying:
“The vast majority of the state’s medical and recreational marijuana stores are living up to stringent state rules, they say. The stores have sold marijuana to hundreds of thousands of customers without incident.” 
This case is not the rule, it is the *exception*.
My entire purpose of my second contention is to demonstrate that if we were to weigh the risks of all the *potential harms* on a scale, alcohol would *drastically* weigh more. The chart I provided takes into consideration the cases like the one he provided and adds into the “harm to others” bar. Which as we can see is much large than that of marijuana.
This contention has in *no way* been refuted.
I have thus far proven that the benefits of legalizing marijuana would *greatly* outweigh is harms, in the forms of freedom, taxation, safety, and job creation. Con’s job was to demonstrate that the potential harms outweighed these benefits, he has yet to show they may possibly do this. In his rebuttals he suggests that neither alcohol nor tobacco should be legal because their potential harms apparently outweigh their benefits, but this is a *bare assertion*.
The U.S federal government has already recognized that freedom and taxation, along with the slew of other benefits outweigh these “1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults” that alcohol potentially causes. This is the status quo. Even though I personally also find these potential harms to be rather great, the harms of marijuana simply cannot begin to be weighed in comparison.
It’s amusing that Con would bring up how the status quo allows for a possible risk of losing about 500,000 people *every year* from tobacco. This only validates my position even more! The chart below demonstrate the staggering difference between the deaths from tobacco and that of marijuana. 
I have shown that marijuana possess a lower level of potential harm than any of the current legal substances. Not only that, but whatever miniscule harm that was there is *greatly* outweighed by the benefits of freedom, taxation, safety, and job creation. This is all excellent justification that shows that recreational marijuana should be legalize.
For my final round I will sum up this debate and explain why the resolution has been negated.
Burden of proof and pro’s case:
Pro accepted the burden of proof in this debate.
First he argued Freedom of autonomy. Mill’s quote explains when a law is just. By applying this quote we find that the status quo regarding marijuana is a just law. I also provided ample evidence referencing the CDC on the inherent and likely harms marijuana presents. Lastly I provided a link to an occurrence in Colorado that shows these harms not hypothetical, but incredibly real. This was a point that pro ultimately conceded as his second contention admits the harm posed by marijuana. Thus Pro’s first contention is soundly refuted.
Next my opponent argued that Marijuana poses a Low level of harm to others. This is again shown to be false via the data I have provided. Pro’s chart does indicate that there are more harmful substances than marijuana but solidifies the harm that marijuana poses. Pro attempts to argue that because more dangerous substances are legal marijuana should also be legal. This is refuted easily as we see that those substances (alcohol and tobacco) have become an even greater threat to society legal than illegal. Thus we can conclude that legalizing marijuana will result in an increase in harm. Pro’s argument does show inconstancy in current laws. Though, this is a moot point as consistency could sway in support of legalization of marijuana or outlawing of other substances.
Finally Pro claims benefits from regulation. He claimed 3 benefits. He claimed we can increase tax revenue by regulation. This is true, though it monetizes a human life for profit. This is clearly immoral. He claimed legalization would make marijuana safer. This is hard for him to prove, and if we observe tobacco and alcohol we see that these substances are still dangerous perhaps more so as they are accepted in society. He claimed that Job creation would occur is legalized. This is true, though then we allow businesses to make profits off harming society and causing death.
Conclusion of debate:
Pro’s case has a few points that stand.
1: Legalization would result in tax revenue
2: Legalization would result in job growth
This is clearly outweighed by the harm demonstrated.
My contentions remain intact
1: Outlawing marijuana is just
2: Marijuana poses harm
3: Legalization monetizes a human life.
Unless readers feel it benificial to allow corperations to exploit and profit off of human suffering Pro has failed to fill his burden of proof, we see that the status quo in relation to marijuana laws is justified and should remain intact.
Thanks for reading,
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