The United States Should Legalize Marijuana for Recreational Use
R2: Opening Arguments (no rebuttals)
R4: Defense & Conclusion (no new arguments)
Marijuana: cannabis, especially as smoked in cigarettes
Legalize: make (something that was previously illegal) permissible by law.
Recreational Use: used without medical justification for its psychoactive effects
Marijuana is Relatively Harmless:
Americans can enjoy alcohol, tobacco, fast food, etc. with no fear of facing any punishment (as long as they are following regulations regarding the first two). So for something to be illegal, one would think it would have to be seriously bad for you. This is one of the main problems with having marijuana illegal, it is no worse for someone compared to many other things Americans can consume.
In the US, the average death rate of alcohol poisoning yearly is 2,221 deaths. (1) Tobacco is even worse, seeing as it causes 1 in 5 every death in the US annually. (2) For marijuana to be illegal, one would think it would have to cause just as many deaths or have the potential to if legal. However, that’s impossible. Although there is some debate on the exact amount of marijuana one would need to consume to overdose on it, all conclusions agree it would be practically impossible to do so. Some of these studies say you’d need to consume: 1500lbs worth all at once, 20,000-40,000 times the amount of marijuana in one marijuana cigarette all at once, or one third of your body weight in pounds of it all at once. (3) It’d be even easier to overdose on water! (4) As for long term effects, although marijuana has some negative ones, alcohol and tobacco have a lot (possibly more) as well. (5, 6)Prohibition Violates Freedom:
Another problem with having marijuana illegal, even if one argues it is dangerous enough to be illegal, is that it goes against the principles on which the US was founded on. The Declaration of Independence mentions that everyone has the unalienable right to liberty. (1) I’ll show how prohibiting use of marijuana violates one’s right to liberty.
Defining liberty can be difficult, but the Law Dictionary, based on Supreme Court cases, defines liberty as, “Freedom; exemption from extraneous control. The power of the will, in its moral freedom, to follow the dictates of its unrestricted choice, and to direct the external acts of the individual without restraint, coercion, or control from other persons.” (2) Notice it says nothing about what you do to yourself. This is why marijuana should be legal, you are not directly harming others by choosing to take it.Importance of Regulation:
Even if both my previous arguments are rejected, marijuana should still be legal. Con may think that having marijuana be illegal will protect people from themselves. That’s simply not true. Nearly 100,000,000 Americans admit to having used marijuana and over 14,000,000 admit to using it regularly, despite laws against it. (1) Clearly, people will use it regardless and the best way to protect people is to have it legal. Why? Because it can be regulated.
Marijuana regulation is crucial. Without the ability to regulate it, countless chemicals, toxins, and other drugs can be added to the product prior to selling it. This can make long term effects a lot more dangerous, adding more drugs to increase chances of becoming addicted, and possibly even kill you. (2, 3, 4)
Plus, many people don’t know how many chemicals are actually in weed. There’s a common belief that it’s simply a plant and it’s all natural. However, if like cigarettes, the ingredients and warnings were listed, these people may be deterred from usage.
As mentioned above, marijuana itself is not any worse than tobacco or alcohol, but having it illegal can make it so much worse than it has to be. If people are going to smoke it anyways, it makes sense for the government to want to make it safer (which legalizing it will).Education is Superior to Bans:
This is a chart that shows usage of common recreational drugs among high school seniors since 1975.
As can be seen, alcohol and cigarette usage have dropped much more than marijuana has (which seems to have been going mostly up since the 1990s). In fact, this chart also shows how since 1965, marijuana arrest rates have increased dramatically.
Why is it preventing marijuana usage has been so hard despite all the laws against it, yet cigarettes have been decreasing so much? It’s because of how effective anti-tobacco campaigns are. (1) In fact, just recently in 2012 the CDC launched an anti-smoking campaign which helped cause over 100,000 smokers to quit. (2) If the government focussed on spending money spent to keep marijuana illegal (more on that later) on anti-marijuana campaigns, then the results would likely be much more successful.
War on Drugs:
The War on Drugs has been a massive failure (of which marijuana is a huge part of). Since it started, the US has spent about $1.5 trillion dollars on it. (1) However, as I showed last argument it hasn’t even really dropped usage. Plus it has also led to increases in violent crime, because it gives criminals another industry which they can compete and operate in. (2) Not much else needs to be said. Keeping drugs like marijuana illegal has not dropped usage, but has only led to more crime and a lot more money spent.
Finally, the revenues from an industry such as marijuana is huge. Since marijuana has become legal in Washington state, $70,000,000 have been raised in taxes. (1) If it were legal across the country, much more revenue could be made (such as paying for anti-marijuana campaigns which are more effective).
I held out as long as I could due to Pro’s request. I applogize for the shortness as I'm short for time to make my opponent's wishes come true.
For this debate I shall be running the following counter-plan.
Resolved: The United States Federal Government should eliminate its mandatory minimum sentencing reduce the crime of possession of Marijuana from a felony to a mistermeanor.
Contention 1: Racism and Poverty.
Coming into this debate one of the key things we can see that is a problem here in today’s date is how upended and racist the War on Drugs is. Even though 14% of African Americans do drugs a whopping 34% are searving time in prison for during marijuana. We can also see that the same African Americans are searving the exact amount of time as violent white criminals.  With this being the case we can see that a key issue facing Americans today is the fact that if you do marijuana you get a felony with a mandatory minimum sentencing. This is unfair as not only does this robs Americans of years of their life while they are in jail, but it hurts them after words. We can see that this unfairly targets the poor. 90% of those arrested are for possession and all of those from the inner cities. The FB reports that this occurs once every 42 seconds.  We are harming our Civil Rights as well as the Sentencing Project has reported that 8% of the Black voting age population isn’t allowed to vote because they’re a convicted felon due to drugs and the total US it’s 5.85 million.
The poverty increases in this according to the “Waiting for Superman” documentary we have seen that in PN that 68% of the inmates that are searving time for doing marijuana are high school drop outs. While it costs prisons $33,000 a year on a prisoner making the total cost of one prison term being to $132,000. To put that in perspective the average cost of a private school is $8,300 per year.  Now we should continue our War on Drugs, but tone down marijuana a tad bit and focus on harder drugs.
Contention 2: Why Legalization WON’T work.
Now I generally agree with a lot with many people who want people to help those in jail for marijuana, but legalization isn’t the answer. For one thing you would only see a 4.4% price decline in marijuana as it is in the black market.  There wouldn’t be much of a decrease in crime as the price wouldn’t drop far enough and the cartel would still operate under their territory. In Los Angelas, "police report that areas surrounding cannabis clubs have experienced a 200 percent increase in robberies, a 52.2 percent increase in burglaries, a 57.1 percent increase in aggravated assault, and a 130.8 percent increase in burglaries from automobiles."  So we can see that a total legalization would be nothing but trouble for many people. Marijuana is a key gate-way drug and it’s legalization will cause a near slippery slope that will lead to increase of crime in regards to other drugs.
A key thing that I like to focus on is schooling. Marijuana cause a reaction in the brain that destroys focal memory loss and cognitivity. This leads to a key thing that causes a massive amount ofd drop outs in school and those who do poorly in schools also turn to marijuana.  This is a key double edged sword and is something that the federal government should endorse. To make matters worse they surveyed that 9 out of 10 students that smoked pot turned to cigarettes. This has also harmed the individual as this has harmed the cognitive of the individual. Smoking Marijuana among kids has caused, “negative peer associations, weak social bonds, low aspirations, and increased deviant behaviors.”  Before my opponent springs into play arguing for placing limits on it like alchol there is still negative affects that can occur. Criminologist James Q. Wilson argued that legalization would decrease the cost leading to an, “increase the number of users; this increase will be permanent… and many aspects of society will be profoundly impacted by the drug-incapacitated persons [including more welfare, broken families, and traffic deaths].”  The National Bureau of Economic Research has found in its research on medical marijuana legalization, “legalization increased both marijuana use and marijuana abuse/dependence in people 21 or older … People 12 to 20 years old were 5 to 6 percent more likely to try marijuana for the first time when medical use was legalized.”
Racism & Poverty:
Nothing for me to rebut here, any concerns Con raises here would be solved through legalization as well.Why Legalization Won’t Work:
Con begins by focussing on stats coming out of California. However, there is a large problem doing this. Marijuana for recreational use is not legal in California. In fact, California’s marijuana laws are closer to Con’s plan than mine. In California, marijuana (for recreational use) is often considered a “misdemeanor” and punishment is done via fines, not jail time. (1) This is much like (if not exactly like), “The United States...should eliminate its mandatory minimum sentencing reduce the crime of possession of Marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor.” So for this reason, any arguments Con made based on statistics from California should be ignored.
However, it still is worth rebutting the point with stats from areas where marijuana for recreational use is legal.
Con starts off saying that legal marijuana would only drop 4.4% in price from the black market. First of all, that alone should end illegal drug use, since it’s cheaper and safer, so no rational person would still try to buy illegal marijuana. Second, Con’s source (http://www.rand.org...) never even states that there would be a 4.4% drop in the price of legal marijuana. Another problem with this assertion, is that marijuana on the black market doesn’t have a typically agreed upon rate. It highly depends on the dealer, the situation, quality, etc. What we can be certain of though, is that with legalization in Colorado, price of marijuana has only been getting lower and lower, despite still growing as an industry, which would further kill any remaining black market. (2)
Overall though, Con’s main point is that crime will increase if marijuana is legal. However, the facts from Colorado and Washington dispute this. Both states have seen a drop in violent crime, since legalization (on top of the obvious decrease in marijuana related arrests). (3, 4) That is the complete opposite of Con’s claim that legal marijuana will increase violent crime, which as mentioned above was dependent on stats from a state where marijuana isn’t even legal for recreational use.
Seeing as I have shown data from states where marijuana is legal to disprove Con’s claims, which relied on data from a state where marijuana isn’t legal for recreational use, I have successfully disproved Con’s claims regarding crime.Schooling:
Con essentially argues here that marijuana use will increase if marijuana is legal, specifically among younger people. First off, Washington hasn’t seen an increase in marijuana usage among youth, since it has become legal. (5) One of the main reasons is that marijuana would still be illegal for those under 18 years of age.
There are also some problems with the medical marijuana related study Con cited from the NBER. They (http://www.nber.org...) claim they got their information from the 2004-2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. However, if you actually look at that, it tells a different story (see the below graphs). (6)
This data suggests very little difference in usage, over the time period. On top of that, another study regarding medical marijuana legalization and teen usage from experts from various universities, also shows little change in teen marijuana usage. (7)
However, marijuana use has been for the most part increasing in the country since the War on Drugs among teens (as shown in my argument last round, Education is Superior to Bans), even though the opposite has been shown in alcohol and tobacco. Same argument here, it would be better to raise awareness about the dangers of marijuana and help those who abused it, than expect that simply banning it will be the best way to solve high usage. The money for that can even be found from taxes from marijuana sales (from my argument Taxation).
My opinion has chaned.
Thanks for the debate. Vote Pro.
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