The USFG should legalize all drugs
I love drugs. If you read my DDO profile, you'll learn that I eat healthy and exercise regularly (i.e. I take great care of my body) precisely so that I can use hard drugs with minimal repurcussions. I've dropped, eaten, smoked, and snorted everything from MDMA to heroin. I even did meth once (never felt so speedy in my life). And thanks to a combination of all these drugs, I learned to seethe with the cosmos.
I've learned more from drugs than anything else. In particular, drugs have taught me a profound sense of humility, that I'm not in total control, that my ideas and vision and even body don't always operate the way I want. And I've learned how to seethe with the universe, swell with its cosmic tides, surf and drown and frolic in its terrestrial waves. It's good to be 16, tripping on acid and seeing the invisible textures of the universe. And it's good to be 19 and so lit that you can smell the stars.
These experiences prepare us for a beautiful life. They teach you that life isn't defined by your job, it's defined by your relationship with the universe. In the words of Rich Doyle, drugs teach us to be ecodelic. And that applies at all stages of your life, no matter your age—drugs break the constraints of habit, anxiety, and dread. The vast majority of drug users have positive experiences with no downside.
Of course, unless you've done lots of drugs, you probably don't know how educational and life-changing they are. So for anyone unsure about the positive effect of proper drug use, let me explain why the government shouldn't be in the business of interfering with personal decisions about using drugs.
Individuals should have all the freedom they want to pursue their own views of the good life—up to the point where an unwilling person could be harmed. This idea is captured by John Stuart Mill's "harm principle," which holds 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.” Freedom thus ends only where the next person’s nose begins.
There's two justifications for this limiting principle. First, it gives our government political legitimacy. In a "state of nature," no political authority exists; individuals are free to do whatever they want. The only reason people give up some of that freedom is to be protected from being harmed by others. This establishes a limit on legitimate government interference.
Second, the harm principle maximizes utility because it lets individuals weigh the costs and benefits of incommensurate goods subjectively (e.g. weighing pleasure from drugs vs health risks). Concepts like pleasure are inherently subjective, so the best way to maximize them is by letting individuals weigh them subjectively, as long as those actions don't harm anyone else.
Under the harm principle, the government's job isn't to ensure people make smart decisions. Nobody should be punished for hurting their own mind or body. That's why suicide is legal. And if suicide is legal, so too should drugs be legal. And it doesn't matter if a particular drug is self-destructive—its use has no effect on anyone but the person using the drug. This puts drugs firmly outside the scope of legitimate government control.
The United States should therefore legalize all drugs no matter how self-destructive it is. And the usual responses—that consuming drugs isn't entirely self-regarding, and that the costs of legalization outweigh the benefits—aren't compelling.
First, drug use is inherently self-regarding. It has no affect on anyone but the person consuming the drug. Any harms related to drug use are caused by the circumstances in which a user consumes drugs, not the drugs themselves. The issue, then, is the circumstances surrounding consumption, not drug use itself.
Second, the costs of drug prohibition outweigh the benefits twice over. In particular, prohibition causes the following harms:
(1) Consuming drugs becomes extremely dangerous because of the potential to suffer poisoning from an adulterated batch, or to overdose because a batch is more pure than believed.
(2) Street drugs are easily available to children.
(3) Dealers charge monopoly prices, so addicts can't spare money for anything else. This drives addicts to homelessness, prostitution, or property crime, simply to afford the drugs.
(4) In drug-dominated neighborhoods, people experience a significant deterioration in the quality of life, which disproportionately harms poorer Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Also, consider the race issue here in terms of the mass incarceration of young (usually recent high school dropouts) drug dealers and drug addicts.
(5) The higher-ups in gangs and drug cartels reap enormous profits. In turn, these illicit drug profits fund terrorism and increase the risk of state failure: "drug revenues support insurgents, other armed non-state actors, and corrupt officials, while counternarcotic efforts create hostility to state power." 
(6) In Mexico, drug gangs use advanced military equipment (often better than the army's), have taken over local governments, and some towns have even become uninhabitable. Tens of thousands of individuals have been violently killed, a number greater than the combined deaths of American and allied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a considerable number of children and other innocent bystanders. 
(7) Mexicans fleeing the drug violence have been entering the United States illegally. This has created an immigration problem. (It even gave Donald Trump something to talk about, which links to the risk of Trump winning the election).
(8) The most dangerous harms are those we can't predict ahead-of-time. For example, a major cost of heroin prohibition was the rapid spread of HIV through drug injecting before anyone knew what was going on. Or consider the changes in inner-city drug trade as a result of the crack trade in the 90s, specifically the increase in gang violence, gun prevalence, and so on. Prohibited markets are unpredictable. And that has major risks on public health (e.g. HIV), crime (e.g. gang violence), and other social issues we simply can't predict.
In effect, drug prohibition inflicts more harm to people in our cities, states, countries, and the world than drugs ever will. And each of these harms are eliminated or significantly reduced in a legalized regime. On top of that, legalization creates a number of other benefits:
(1) Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, estimates that legalization will reduce government expenditures by $41.3 billion per year. The savings involve reductions in police expenditures, in judicial expenditures, and in prison expenditures. In addition, Miron estimates that legalization will increase tax revenues by $46.7 billion per year, assuming conservatively that demand for drugs doesn't increase, with a tax rate similar to that on alcohol. The total boom to our economy is thus about $88 billion per year. And that calculation doesn't even take into account the potential income tax on legal drug dealers. 
(2) Law-abiding citizens who wouldn't abuse drugs will finally be free to use drugs responsibly, reaping all the benefits of drug use without any of the harms.
(3) Legalization will indirectly increase high school graduation rates, because it would reduce illegal opportunities for dropouts.
(4) There's still the possibility for individual states to prohibit or penalize drug use, which lets states test different policies (i.e. states as laboratories).
The facts show that drug prohibition has been the biggest failed policy in the history of our country; the benefits of legalization significantly outweigh the harms. And luckily legalization isn't just supported by the facts, it also aligns with the central value underlying our government: individual liberty. For all these reasons, vote Pro.
1. Mark Kleiman, "Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know"
Thank you Fourtrouble for this opportunity to debate.
“I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer." President Barack Obama (1)
We are arguing if something should or should not be legal. It is important to note what it is we are not arguing. For example, we are not arguing what punishments are or are not justified. Likewise, we are not arguing about overcrowded prisons, or mandatory minimums, these are not relevant topics to the resolution. Many who argue about drugs often argue that they should be decriminalized. Again, while an interesting and important topic it is not directly related to this debate. For example, It is feasible to argue, as many do, that something should be illegal and decriminalized, or to argue for less stringent punishments for violations. Now that we have covered what is not being debated, we can get to the core issue. This debate rests solely on the question of if all drugs should be legalized. Emphasis on all, if I can reasonabley show why any drug should remain illegal Fourtrouble loses.
I will present my argument in two parts. The first being that the U.S. Government ought to protect citizens from Drugs, and the second, that the Government protects citizens through the rule of law. By arguing such it will become clear that the U.S. Government should not legalize all drugs.
Argument Part 1: The Government ought to protect citizens from Drugs.
My case here is quite simple (P = Premise, C = Conclusion)
P1: The U.S. government ought to protect citizens from harm.
P2: Citizens can be and are harmed by Drugs
C: The U.S. Government ought to protect citizens from Drugs.
P1: The U.S. Government ought to protect citizens from harm
To understand what the government ought to do it is important to understand the Role of government. The supreme Law of the U.S. is the Constitution. The authors included a preamble that summarized the core values and purpose of Government. Some of those values and goals listed were “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare….”
Such governments could only accomplish these goals and realize their purpose if citizens are protected from harm. There can be no justice, tranquility, general welfare etc. if citizens are subject to harm that the government could reasonably prevent. That is to say Governments ought to protect their citizens from harm.
P2: Citizens can be and are harmed by drugs
From the U.S. government website devoted to facts about drugs (2)(3) We find a pleathora of information that demonstrates the harm drugs cause.
For example, We find that Herion can cause "clouded thinking; alternate wakeful and drowsy states; itching; nausea; vomiting; slowed breathing and heart rate..... Dangerous slowdown of heart rate and breathing, coma, death."(3) Furthermore, We find that Cocain can cause "insomnia, restlessness; anxiety; erratic and violent behavior, panic attacks, paranoia, psychosis; heart rhythm problems, heart attack; stroke, seizure, coma." (3)
These are just two examples.
Talk about harm. Drugs harm in many ways. It is not a stretch to assume that someone who’s mood is altered, having hallucinations, is paranoid, prone to erratic and violent behavior, and/or having suicidal thoughts poses a threat to themselves and others.
"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Household Survey on Drug Abuse asks individuals living in households about their dug and alcohol use and their involvement in acts that could get them in trouble with the police... those who use cannabis or cocaine were much more likely to commit crimes of all types than those who did not use these substances. Of those reporting use... during 1991, 26.1% also report that they committed violent crimes during the year."(4)
We see that drug use is linked to violent crime. That is to say harm to others. Legalizing a drug does not remove the harms inherent to that drug. Thus we see that Citizens can be and often are harmed by Drug use in the U.S.
Conclusion of Part 1:
As P1 and P2 are affirmed that the U.S. government ought to protect citizens from harm and that Citizens can and often are harmed by drugs it follows logically that the U.S. Government ought to protect citizens from Drugs.
Argument Part 2: The Government protects citizens through the rule of law.
How does a government “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility… , promote the general Welfare….?” Simple; through the rule of law.
Rule of law implies that every citizen is subject to the law, including law makers themselves. Put another way. The Government is subject to law as are citizens of this nation. How is it that the government can protect citizens from the harm of drugs as we have established it should if the laws that make this protection possible are repealed? Simply put it cannot. If all drugs are legalized the government cannot fill its duty. Governments ought to protect citizens from Drugs. To do this it becomes necessary for the law to enable the government to do so. Many drugs are harmful and are thus rightly outlawed.
It has become clear that;
1: The U.S. Government ought to protect citizens from drugs.
How is that done?
2: The Government protects citizens through the rule of law.
From these two points it logically follows that;
C: The Government through the rule of Law should protect Citizens from drugs.
This is why I am opposed to the resolution; that is to say that the U.S. Government should not legalize all drugs.
Con's argument focuses exclusively on whether drug use is harmful. But the issue in this debate isn't whether drug use is harmful or even net harmful. The issue is whether drug legalization is net harmful when compared with the status quo (or some other advocacy like a decriminalized regime). I showed that legalization minimizes the harms of drug use (and indeed maximizes utility on every level).
Con's argument also misses a key nuance: drugs aren't inherently harmful. The harms are caused by the circumstances in which someone consumes drugs. Con cites a number of problems with drugs, things like "clouded thinking," "death," "paranoia," and so on. But these aren't inherently bad things. And doing heroin or cocaine don't guarantee you'll experience these things. These are potential risks. Or potential benefits, depending on your perspective.
Remember, any harm associated with drug use needs to be compared against the intense pleasure they bring, their educational value, their medical value, or their value in accomplishing some specific goal, mental or physical state, or death. There's a reason people do drugs in the first place. They're weighing the potential harms against the potential benefits. And if they keep doing drugs, they're deciding that the benefits outweigh. The idea that drugs are inherently harmful is therefore false.
You can also apply Con's argument against him: If the government should protect citizens from drugs, it should legalize drugs, so that they're regulated by the FDA, sold with warning labels, kept away from children, and users are reasonably educated about the risks. Legalization also lowers prices, which means addicts won't turn to prostitution, property crime, or homelessness. Again, all the harms I argued in R2 were dropped, so there's not much to add here.
Con says the government should protect citizens through the rule of law. But there's other ways to protect citizens than prohibition or punishment. Taxes deter people. Regulatory agencies, like the FDA, help out, too. Also, keep in mind the forbidden fruit effect. In the Book of Genesis, even God couldn't enforce a prohibition. The idea that our government somehow is protecting people from drugs by prohibiting drug use is wrong.
Finally, Con observes that it's "feasible" to argue for "less stringent punishments" or "decriminalization." But Con never says he's advocating those things. I have no clue what Con's advocacy is, since he doesn't clarify whether he's supporting "less stringent punishments," or "decriminalization," or what kinds of punishments or alternative to the status quo. To compare the specifics of his case with a legalized regime, I need to know what those specifics are. The status quo is assumed in the absence of a clear alternative to the status quo. So don't let Con get the benefits of "decriminalization" or "less stringent punishments" when Con hasn't offered a clear alternative to the status quo.
That said, I'll address decriminalization. The reason legalization is preferable is because in a decriminalized regime, you're still punishing people for using drugs, you can't regulate the drugs (via the FDA), you don't get warning labels, you don't get to ensure the drugs are pure, you can't tax the drugs (so you lose out on the economic benefit), the drugs still operate in a prohibited market (and all the attendant unpredictability that brings), and it still leads to the problems in Mexico, since all our drugs will be provided by Mexico (or other Latin American countries). The benefits of legalization outweigh the costs, whether you're comparing it to the status quo or decriminalization.
Pro says “Con drops my entire case. Extend my argument that drugs are awesome, the harm principle, and my cost/benefit analysis of legalization vs prohibition.”
Our experience is the source of all knowledge.
Con’s analogies to sex with a minor and cutting aren't relevant or persuasive. Sex with a minor violates the harm principle. Cutting doesn’t. Sex with a minor is illegal. Cutting isn’t. If anything, we shoud treat drugs like cutting. Legalize it. Regulate it. Educate people on it. Get addicts help.
The harm principle is a limiting principle. It only says what the government cannot do. It says nothing about what the government must do or should do. Just because something harms others doesn’t mean it must or should be illegal.
Con cites three harms from drugs: clouded thinking, paranoia, and death. Neither of these states is inherently harmful. Some people commit suicide, because the pain of life is too great. For those people, death is positive.
Others enjoy irrational thinking or clouded thinking or blankness. Maybe clouded thinking gives them a greater appreciation of clear thinking. Or maybe they want to cloud their mind because the truth is too painful.
Different strokes, different folks.
Con singles out heroin. Why? Heroin is an excellent drug. It is intensely pleasurable. It has medical benefits (painkiller). It isn't too addictive (it takes weeks for a physical addiction to form). Studies show that fast food is as addictive, and withdrawals from FDA-approved anti-depressants are worse.
Every drug has side-effects. In fact, FDA-approved drugs kill 100,000 people each year. Is Con saying we should prohibit all these drugs just because there is a risk the drug will kill the user? That's absurd. We weigh costs and benefits. The benefits of using drugs far outweigh the costs. Most drug users agree. And most drug users aren't addicts. They're regular folks.
Con says legalizing drugs will increase the consumption of drugs. But that's just Con's assertion. In reality, drug consumption is unlikely to increase. Most people who will do drugs already do drugs. And most hard drugs have very limited market appeal, so legalizing them isn't going to suddenly create a demand for them. Consider: Millions of people don't smoke or drink alcohol even though it's legal. And these people aren't going to suddenly do hard drugs. Also, consider the "forbidden fruit effect," the idea that people do drugs because it's forbidden. This points toward a decrease in drug use. Whatever the case, Con’s assertion is 100% speculation. It's conjecture, approaching nothing close to a clear probability.
And even if drug use increases, the new users will be be folks who didn't do drugs when drugs were illegal. In other words, responsible, law-abiding folks, folks who care about their health, and so on. These are the sorts of people who won't abuse drugs, won't become addicts, and won't commit violent crimes. Meanwhile, these new users still receive all the benefits of drug use (intense pleasure, happiness, meaning, fulfillment). So if legalization increases drug use, it means there's likely to be increased benefits, not increased harms.
Con says the average drug user doesn’t weigh costs and benefits rationally. Why not? Con offers no answer. Con also drops all the harms caused by prohibition. And Con drops all the benefits caused by legalization. Remember, we're not discussing whether drug use is net harmful or net beneficial. That is not the subject of this debate. The subject of this debate is whether legalization is net beneficial. Con completely drops all my evidence showing that legalization is net beneficial. That alone is reason to Vote Pro.
That said, I'll give Con credit where it's due: at least he's consistent. And by that, I mean that Con is so adamant about prohibiting anything harmful that he even recommend prohibiting tobacco and alcohol... Holy fvck is that position untenable... Remember, alcohol was illegal, during Prohibition era. And guess what? It was a massive failure. It led to a massive increase in the mafia, crime, murder, etc.
Con still refuses to give any specifics about what’s he’s advocating. So hold him to the status quo. Or hold him to a decriminalized regime where drugs are still stold on the black market, they're still not regulated, they're still dangerous because you don't know what you're getting, and all the profits go the illicit market, where it funds terrorism and Mexican drug cartels. So you can extend my cost/benefit analysis to the decriminalized world.
Finally, Con’s syllogism is sh!t.
If the government should protect citizens from harm, it should legalize drugs, because prohibition causes significantly more harm.
If citizens are harmed by drug use in the status quo, the government should do its best to figure out how to make drugs safer. The evidence shows that legalization makes drugs safer, because the drugs are regulated, they're not sold to children, and they operate in a legitimate economy rather than supporting crime and terrorism.
If the government should protect citizens from drugs, it should legalize drugs so that it can regulate them, lower prices, help addicts get the help they need, and lower rates of homelessness and prostitution and drug gang violence...
There are lots of ways to protect citizens that don’t require prohibition. Legalization, regulation, and education is better than prohibition.
What we have learned: An Overview of this debate
“Our experience is the source of all knowledge.”
The above is a quote from pro. The question becomes, what is our experience with legalizing drugs. I demonstrated last round that our experience legalizing harmful substances has led to significant harm.
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.” (1)
Pro states that “Con says legalizing drugs will increase the consumption of drugs. But that's just Con's assertion.” The above is clear evidence. The prohibition may not have been an overwhelming success. However, it is clear that Alcohol does far more damage to our society today, then when it was prohibited. This is evident as “1 in 10 deaths among working age adults” is linked to alcohol.
Pro tries to straw man my position stating “I mean that Con is so adamant about prohibiting anything harmful that he even recommend prohibiting tobacco and alcohol...” I never made such a recommendation. What I did was demonstrate that the experience of legalizing harmful substances increases consumption and harm. Alcohol alone proves this.
This clearly negates pro’s claim that “Con’s assertion is 100% speculation. It's conjecture, approaching nothing close to a clear probability.” This is an amusing quote as I have clearly backed up my assertion. Pro on the other hand through pure speculation claims that legalizing drugs does not increase consumption. It is historically factual and logically intuitive that if a substance is made legal, and available that consumption increases.
We can clearly conclude that legalization of all drugs would increase consumption.
The Harm Principle
Pro asserts that “The harm principle is a limiting principle. It only says what the government cannot do. It says nothing about what the government must do or should do.” This is a grave misunderstanding on pro’s part and is why he loses this debate. Recall in his opening argument when he quoted Mill.
“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.”
This clearly states that based on the harm principle there is a time when power can be rightfully exercised over a member of civilized community against his will. As clearly stated it is to prevent harm to others. This is Pro’s own standard. To follow this standard and test it against the resolution we must ask, does increased consumption of drugs increase harm to others.
Consider all of the effects I have listed from drugs, which are several. It is not a stretch to assume that someone who’s mood is altered, having hallucinations, is paranoid, prone to erratic and violent behavior, and/or having suicidal thoughts poses a threat to themselves and others. I even cited the following…
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Household Survey on Drug Abuse asks individuals living in households about their dug and alcohol use and their involvement in acts that could get them in trouble with the police... those who use cannabis or cocaine were much more likely to commit crimes of all types than those who did not use these substances. Of those reporting use... during 1991, 26.1% also report that they committed violent crimes during the year."(2)
Clearly drugs are not confined to self-harm. Thus we can conclude that applying the harm principle would justify the illegality of some drugs.
The Burden of Proof:
Finally I ask all reading to consider the burden of proof required in this debate. Pro argued for the legalization of all drugs. The burden rests entirely on him to affirm his position. In this debate pro has attempted to shift his burden to me stating “Con still refuses to give any specifics about what’s he’s advocating. So hold him to the status quo.” My role in this debate is to demonstrate that pro has not met his burden.
I have demonstrated clearly that legalizing drugs will Increase consumption. This will in turn increase the harm posed by drugs. When you then apply the Harm principle it becomes clear that use of some drugs invariably leads to a violation of this principle.
Pro made three contentions two contentions are soundly negated. Drugs being awesome hardly links to legalization and is merely a statement of opinion and the harm principle would support the illegality of some drugs. To vote pro is to accept his cost benefit analysis which is almost entirely based on money. That is to say, to vote pro is to advocate corporations exploiting and profiting off of human suffering and addiction. Profits might be made, jobs might be created, but society pays the ultimate price in life’s lost. By legalizing all drugs based on pro’s arguments is to haveour society monetized a human life with the blessing of government.
I ask you which weighs more, life, or money…
Pro’s cost benefit analysis is clearly wrong.
We must not legalize all drugs
P1: The U.S. government ought to protect citizens from harm.
P2: Citizens can be and are harmed by Drugs
C: The U.S. Government ought to protect citizens from Drugs.
How is that done?
The Government protects citizens through the rule of law.
We can therefore conclude that “The Government through the rule of Law should protect Citizens from drugs.” The resolution is soundly negated.
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