The United States Federal Government should decriminalize Marijuana.
Debate Rounds (3)
Dictionary.com defines decriminalization as "to reduce or abolish criminal penalties for". Possession is defined is: the act of having controlling property defined by wordnetweb.princeton.edu.
Our plan is to not criminally penalize those who use and possess little amount. However there would be a fine and punishment for those who have mass possession, which is over 3 ounces without permission from the government.
According to Dr. Claudia Jensen Pediatrician from University of South Carolina "The truth is one of the reason that adolescents have an increasing use of marijuana is because they've been lied to. They've been told it's a very dangerous drug that it has no benefit, and unfortunately that's not what they experience on the streets, and it's important to bring it out of the streets…so children and adolescents and parents can learn the truth. Get some of the data and look at this drug not with a deformedness prospective but more with a scientific and factual perspective."
This quote leads me to our first contention, that the majority of the claims against marijuana are purely myths. One of the biggest misconceptions against marijuana is why it's illegal. The real reason that cannabis was criminalized was because of racism (which I will go into later in the debate), fear, protection of Corporate Profits, Yellow Journalism, Ignorant, Incompetent, and/or Corrupt Legislators, personal career advancement and greed. Unlike what is heavily advertised on television and in articles you read cannabis had many different uses and back in 1619 it was illegal not to grow it.
According to Pete Guither, a very successful drug reform activist "America's first marijuana law was enacted at Jamestown Colony, Virginia in 1619. It was a law "ordering" all farmers to grow Indian hempseed. There were several other "must grow" laws over the next 200 years (you could be jailed for not growing hemp during times of shortage in Virginia), and during most of that time, hemp was legal tender (you could even pay your taxes with hemp!) Hemp was such a critical crop for a number of purposes (including essential war requirements – rope, etc.) that the government went out of its way to encourage growth." It was a heavily advertised because of its different uses.
Yet Cannabis got in the way of many different companies, especially the timber company since the hemp from cannabis worked better and was a cheaper form of paper as a result they became a threat to the industry.
This is where yellow journalism plays a part. People like William Randolf, who was the owner of a large chain of newspapers had many reasons to assist the cause to make cannabis illegal. He was a racist which I will go into explaining later, and he didn't want the corporate competition that hemp paper brought, since he was part of the timber industry, and selling newspapers that contained blatant lies about Mexicans and Cannabis made him a very wealthy man. This led Cannabis being brought to court where according to Guither a member of the committee lied and said that the American Medical Association supported this bill, when it isn't true, leading to the criminalization of cannabis.
Another blatant lie is the effects of marijuana many websites claim that marijuana is addictive, but it is not physically addictive like tobacco or heroin. It is only theoretically addictive but if you put it that way, everything is addictive, are you going to criminalize everything? There Is also no record of anyone ever dying form an overdose of cannabis. According to Joshua Levine from askmen.com who has more than 10 million readers a month "There is no existing evidence of anyone dying of a marijuana overdose. Tests performed on mice have shown that the ratio of (the chemicals in marijuana that make you high) necessary for overdose to the amount necessary for intoxication is 40,000:1. For comparison's sake, that ratio for alcohol is generally between 4:1 and 10:1. Alcohol overdoses claim approximately 5,000 casualties yearly, but marijuana overdoses kill no one as far as any official reports." Also according to this same source that there is no legitimate proof that marijuana kills brain cells, it causes no cardiovascular problems in a normal person, it has not been found to alter testosterone and other sex hormones like alcohol does and there is no trustworthy test that has been conducted about the reproductive damages of marijuana.
My third contention is that there is a medical purpose for medical cannabis. According to Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's News caster, June 28th 2006 "There are diagnoses at epidemic proportions' in this country, ADD and ADHD… fair or not, these are so common vernacular referring to our collective short-attention spans and inability to focus, "don't mind him, he's got ADD." According to a member of the American academy of pediatrics, whenever our nation's doctors encounter a patient with one of these disorders they go to right to one drug … Ritalin, but there is a lesser known treatment one that may in fact be more effective with less side effects; cannabis. You may know that as…marijuana." Marijuana not only treats ADD and ADHD but it also helps cancer patients and many other patients. According to" Positive Effects of Marijuana" eHow- online knowledge resource with more than 337,000 articles "One of the greatest benefits is the increased appetite that comes along with the consumption of the drug. This has been used with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to enable them to eat again and maintain their strength through the difficult process. Marijuana has been shown to alleviate nausea, and has been shown to be successful in the treatment of neurogenic pain, as well as having a host of benefits for those suffering from glaucoma, asthma and spasticity." This shows that marijuana has too many benefits NOT to be legal.
Before I begin with my debate I would like to refute my opponent's speech. My opponent stated that in 1619 it was illegal NOT to grow marijuana. Also in 1619, accused witches had to burn at the stake and they thought moonshine had healing powers. Her example is very outdated. Also her first contention is very false. If all of our information about marijuana is a lie, then our government has been lying to us for a very long, long time. Assuming that her second contention concerns that marijuana is not addictive, although she never really justifies what her contention actually is, I will try to refute it as well. Please view her source, askmen.com. It does not matter how many viewers a page has if it is not reliable and my opponent's source is not very reliable. (Ex: Wikipedia) Admittedly, it is almost impossible to overdose and die of marijuana, pot leads to many fatalities every year. I will provide observations later on. Addressing her third contention: that there are medical purposes for marijuana. I will later prove otherwise but take note that her third contention is completely irrelevant, whereas in some states it is legal to have medical marijuana and is not viewed as being a criminal offence. What we are debating is whether or not it should be legal, and if some states view medical cannabis as being legal she has contradicted herself. Before I begin please take note of this: The resolution is very, very vague. It could mean that children or even newborns could legally obtain pot if they were capable of doing so. This implies that the Affirmative is perfectly ok with children smoking cannabis because there is no age limit.
To begin with my first contention: Marijuana is NOT a medicine. My opponent liked to show that M.C (medical cannabis) could help cancer patients. Sub point A.) How can we fight cancer with cancer? To justify: There is 50- 70% more cancer causing chemicals found in marijuana smoke than cigarette smoke. In fact, pot contains more than 400 chemicals. (American Lung Association) Sub point B.)THC can and has also been extracted from cannabis for medication. This means that there is no longer even a need for M.C. Marinol ™ (THC extracted medication) has been used all over the nation to help combat cancer and AIDS and other illnesses just like M.C but has the benefit of not providing an addiction forming ‘High." I would like to provide an observation of how medical marijuana can actually be negative. Irma was a 14 year old girl from Belmont, California who took an Ecstasy pill on April 23, 2004. She became sick immediately---vomiting and writhing in pain---yet her friends did not seek medical help for her. Instead, they gave her marijuana, thinking it would relax her and possibly help her because they had heard it had medicinal qualities. Irma suffered for hours and when she was finally taken to the hospital the next morning, she was in terrible shape. Five days later she was taken off life support and died. (observation taken for DEA website)
Continuing with my second contention: Marijuana is harmful. Sub point A.) Marijuana has harmful health effects. Skipping one example of cancer causing chemicals because I have already provided it in my previous contention, studies prove that pot affects the brain and lungs. Cannabis leads to effects such as the tightening of blood vessels in the brain providing a lack of oxygen and similar effects to that of cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. Cannabis also affects the lungs by causing chronic coughing and wheezing. The amount of carbon monoxide inhaled by pot users is three to five times greater than that of tobacco users. Sub point B.) Cannabis affects academic achievement. Studies by the DEA prove that students with an average grade of "D" or below are more than four times as likely to have used marijuana in the last year than youths with an average grade of "A." Think about it. If one of the biggest stressor in your life were school and cannabis always seemed to help, which one would you turn to too help? Sub Point C: Marijuana leads to risky behavior. "Research shows that kids who use marijuana in early adolescence are more likely to engage in risky behaviors that may put their futures in jeopardy, such delinquency; having multiple sexual partners; perceiving drugs as not harmful; and having more friends who exhibit deviant behavior. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (now the National Survey on Health) adolescents 12-17 who use marijuana weekly are nine times more likely than non-users to experiment with other illegal drugs or alcohol, five times more likely to steal and nearly four times more likely to engage in violence." (DEA website) Please take note that pot is called the "Gateway Drug" for a reason. Users of cannabis are very likely to ruin their lives by moving on to much more deadly drugs than pot once marijuana cannot provide a high anymore.
Finishing with my third contention: Drug legalization is proven not to work. The Dutch learned it the hard way. Over the years the crime rate has risen dramatically. There have been countless complaints of reckless driving, public urination, and other ridiculous crimes as a result of legal pot. In Switzerland, the use of cannabis became legal in "Needle Park." As a result the crime rate skyrocketed and 20,000 drug users gathered daily to smoke pot. In Canada, the decriminalization experiment led to a massive increase in deadly drugs, again proving that cannabis leads to deadly alternatives. In Ireland, the number of children treated for mental disorders caused by smoking cannabis has quadrupled since the government downgraded the legal status of the drug, according to an article in the Sunday Times (September 18, 2005). Addaction, an Irish drug charity, told the Times that "three months after police stopped arresting anyone found in possession of small amounts of the drug, the overall number of users treated for such conditions rose 42%." For these reasons, vote in negation. Thank You.
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