The United States should legalize all drugs
Looking forward to a challenging debate.
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'm going to start by noting that my advocacy is not necessarily bound to the status quo. In addition to advocating that illegal drugs should remain illegal, I am also allowed to advocate that the US should reform its approach to the "War on Drugs" and pursue bans on other drugs like tobacco and alcohol. That said, let's move on to my case.
Pro seems to concede that legalization will increase drug use, but just to be safe, let's examine why this is the case. Legalization does three things -- it removes all the criminal penalties which typically deter people from using drugs (or at least limit how often they use them), it allows for drugs to be produced & sold domestically at a fraction  of their current black market prices, and it enables drug producers to market their products to targeted audiences. This entails *enormous* positive shocks on both the demand-side and supply-side of the drug market, thereby resulting in vastly increased drug consumption rates. With that established, I'm gonna go over the harms of drug consumption in the status quo.
(1) Individual Health
It is pretty uncontroversial that drug use is unhealthy. Firstly, there is the danger of irresponsible drug abuse. More than 37,500 people die of drug overdoses every year, approximately 1.1 million emergency room trips are made annually as a direct result of drug poisoning, and 18% of all drivers killed in car accidents test positive for at least one type of drug [2, 3, 4]. Perhaps my opponent is prudent enough to avoid these immediate repercussions of drug use, but no amount of prudence can save drug users from the long term consequences: regular drug use has been scientifically proven to weaken the immune system, increase risk for cardiovascular disease, and cause liver & brain damage . Simply browsing through this exhaustive report compiled by the UK's Center for Public Health reveals innumerable serious health complications arising from drug use . It is obvious that illegal drugs generate substantial harm on the individual level.
(2) Violent Crime
Again, this isn't really controversial. The fact is that doing drugs severely impairs judgment, and therefore drug users are far more likely to commit violent crimes than other people. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that among male arrestees from 24 different cities, "the percentage testing positive for any drug ranged from 42% to 79% across the cities... those who use cannabis (marijuana) or cocaine were much more likely to commit crimes of all types than those who did not use these substances... arrestees and inmates were often under the influence of a drug at the time they committed their offense" . Moreover, the resolution supports legalizing *all* drugs, including ones which are explicitly designed to help commit violent crimes (e.g. lethal drugs, date rape drugs, etc). Date rape drugs are involved in 25% of all rape cases, and that number is probably significantly understated because most cases of drug-related sexual assault are never even reported to the police . Illegal drugs are illegal for a reason -- they inflict huge amounts of harm on society by facilitating violent crime.
(3) Economic Harm
It has been calculated that illicit drug use costs the economy roughly $193 billion via healthcare expenses, loss of work productivity (i.e. premature deaths, addiction-related unemployment, etc), and damage from violent crime. That's 1% of the GDP, which is quite significant considering that economists get excited over mere half-percent increases in the GDP growth rate. We can further put that number into perspective by comparing it to the economic costs of alcohol and tobacco consumption. Controlling for the number of users, illegal drugs cost society 4 times more than alcohol, and only slightly less than tobacco. Illegal drugs are decidedly detrimental to the economy.
>>> Conclusion <<<
The logic of my case is very simple. All the harms described above are the result of drug use in the status quo, where only about 12% of the adolescent/adult populace regularly uses drugs . Drug legalization is expected to cause that number to sky-rocket, which greatly exacerbates all of the described harms -- we would see thousands more fatalities from overdoses per annum, huge spikes in violent crime rates (especially for rape), and hundreds of billions of dollars being lost from the economy. Therefore, it is clearly a detrimental policy which should not be implemented. Vote Con!
(1) Drugs are Awesome
I have little doubt that my opponent and many others have had positive experiences with limited drug use. However, one cannot perform a utilitarian calculation by only considering the positive side of things -- we must weigh the positives against the negatives. Pro waxes poetic about the benefits of drug use, but he doesn't ever demonstrate that the population of benefactors is particularly large, nor does he show that the degree of positive utility from drug use is even close to the degree of negative utility associated with the harms of drug legalization. We can extend my entire case to affirm that the immense harm caused by legalization definitively outweighs Pro's vague and questionable benefits.
Pro briefly mentions the possibility of forming a sort of "drug culture" in the United States which would facilitate the safe use of drugs. The biggest problem with this idea is that such a culture is exceedingly unlikely to form in the US. The vast majority of Americans want most drugs to stay illegal, with approval ratings for drug legalization generally being below 10%, so good luck getting them to go for a complete overhaul of the way society views & treats drugs . Moreover, there is no guarantee that such a culture would actually succeed in curbing the harms of drug use. In 2001, Portugal implemented a drug decriminalization policy which involved efforts to educate drug users on safety & moderation, yet a UC Berkeley study found that the policy still led to "an approximately 25% increase in homicide rates and an increase of over 150% in drug mortality rates." . The harms of drug legalization which I described are inevitable.
(2) Role of Government
Firstly, Pro's argument is based on an is/ought fallacy. Just because humans *are* autonomous creatures doesn't mean they *ought* to have full autonomy. Secondly, we don't live in the "State of Nature" -- we live in a civilized, interdependent society where we must rely on other human beings to survive, and where we constantly enjoy the benefits of government (an inherently unnatural entity). Thus, we have no obligation to abide by the Harm Principle. In fact, our social interdependence requires us to value the interests of everyone in society just as much as we value our own; in other words, collective welfare must be valued over individual welfare, thus giving preference to a utilitarian approach to ethics.
More importantly, by appealing to the status quo, Pro automatically concedes this argument because the United States quite regularly interferes with personal liberty in order to prevent harm on both the individual and societal levels. For example, consider seat-belt laws, mandatory education, criminalized prostitution, and marriage regulations. All of those laws are incompatible with the Harm Principle, yet they have been enforced in the US for long periods of time with little resistance from anyone. Suicide's legality is not because of the Harm Principle... it is because a ban on suicide is practically impossible to enforce. Our country is very far from being libertarian -- in the status quo, the government makes policy decisions via pragmatic cost/benefit analysis, thus lending further credibility to my utilitarian framework.
I'll start with the harm principle, then address Con's cost-benefit analysis.
(1) The harm principle
The harm principle is fundamentally utilitarian.  Society provides the greatest good for the greatest number when the government lets individuals weigh the costs and benefits of self-regarding acts according to their own subjective weighing mechanism.
Utility is subjective—harm, value, cost, pleasure are subjective concepts—so there's no objective mechanism for measuring/weighing incommensurate costs and benefits. The harm principle solves that problem by letting individuals weigh costs/benefits subjectively, at least for self-regarding acts. And this maximizes utility precisely because utility itself is subjective.
Notably, Con fails to offer any weighing mechanism at all. He simply asserts that the costs of legalization outweigh the benefits, without explaining how he's measuring/weighing the costs and benefits. This analysis is too vague. And it's arbitrary. So apply the harm principle and let individuals weigh the cost/benefits of drugs subjectively. This maximizes utility better than Con's vague framework.
Con's responses aren't compelling. First, the is/ought gap applies to all moral theories, including utilitarianism. So to the extent it applies to the harm principle, it also applies to Con's framework. Moreover, the inference here isn't a fallacy because it derives an "ought" from a "must," not an "is." We must weigh utility subjectively, so the government shouldn't interfere except to prevent an unwilling person from being harmed.
Second, the "state of nature" refers to a hypothetical condition before society came into existence. The concept is analytically useful to justify government. In particular, it says that government is the result of a social agreement among individuals to give up some freedoms to protect themselves from being harmed by others. This justification thus creates principled limits on the law (i.e. the harm principle). [Note: This gets around the is/ought problem by severing the law from ethics.]
Third, the resolution is normative, so neither side is bound to the status quo. Con says he isn't required to support the legality of alcohol or the "war on drugs." So I don't need to support seat-belt laws. Yes, they probably violate the harm principle. But there's lots of bad laws out there. And lots of them violate Con's utilitarianism too (e.g. the Endangered Species Act).
(2) Con's cost-benefit analysis
The issue is legalization vs prohibition. So we're weighing the costs and benefits of legalization vs prohibition. To the extent Con's analysis focuses on the costs of drug use in the status quo, Con's analysis isn't sufficient. What matters isn't whether drug use is net harmful in the status quo, but rather whether legalization is more harmful than prohibition.
Con's only argument is that increased drug use means increased harms. However, Con dooms that argument with a fatal concession: Con admits that some people have positive experiences with drugs. So Con admits that using drugs isn't inherently harmful.
That means the type and degree of harmfulness isn't defined by drugs themselves; the harms are defined by the circumstances in which a user consumes a drug.
For example, consuming heroin in the status quo is extremely dangerous because of the potential to suffer poisioning from an adulterated batch, or to overdose because a batch is more pure than believed. This problem is solved in a legalized regime.
So knowing the number of people using drugs doesn't automatically tell us how many people will abuse drugs, or what form drug problems will take. It's not enough to show legalization increases drug use to show legalization increases harms. And Con simply hasn't met his burden on this crucial point.
That said, let's compare the costs and benefits of legalization vs prohibition:
1. When drugs are prohibited, the people who use drugs are those most likely to consume them in an irresponsible way (i.e. people who don't mind breaking the law). Even so, the vast majority of Americans who use illegal drugs don't become heavy users, addicts, or criminals.  Now, Con says there's gonna be an influx of new drug users in a legalized regime. But who are these new users? They're gonna 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.
2. Con egregiously overstates the quantity of new users from legalization. Most people interested in drugs are already using drugs. There might be some new users but the increase won't be huge. 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 argument about increased drug use is 100% speculation. It's conjecture, approaching nothing close to a clear probability.
3. Con cites a wide range of health issues in the status quo. But in a legalized regime, drugs can be regulated by the FDA, tested for purity, sold with warning labels, and so on. Clean needles can be provided, solving the problem of widespread needle sharing.
Con's weakest argument is the idea that heavy drug use harms the immue system, causes heart disease, and so on. Lots of legal foods are unhealthy. But we don't prohibit them. We don't prohibit junk food even though people abuse it, get addicted, and die from it. Con's "risk of abuse" argument isn't remotely compelling, given the number of risky activities that aren't prohibited. The government lets individuals weigh costs/benefits for most risky activities in society (e.g. driving, junk food, etc.). Using drugs shouldn't be treated any differently.
Finally, "the most general way in which prohibition worsens the health consequences of drug use is by making prices so high that little money or attention can be spared for anything unrelated to the drug itself.”  Addicts who can't afford street drug prices thus won't be able to take care of themselves, their health, or their families. And high prices drives addicts to homelessness, property crime, or prostitution, simply to afford the drugs. Legalization solves this problem (Con even admits that legalization lowers prices).
4. All drugs have non-criminal uses. Lethal drugs, suicide. Date rape drugs? They're already legal, prescribed by doctors for cataplexy and narcolepsy.
Con says drugs increase violence. But "all major authorities agree that the vast majority of drug-related violent crime is caused by the prohibition against drugs, rather than the drugs themselves."  Some drugs impair judgment but it's no different than drinking alcohol. Under Con's logic, we should revert back to the Prohibition era, where you couldn't drink alcohol. Of course, everyone knows what a massive failure that was (e.g. the mafia, illegal drug trade, etc.)
We should punish violent crime, not drug use. Not a single piece of evidence suggests that punishing drug use deters violent crime. This isn't surprising, since the only person affected by the use of drugs is the user, especially if done in your home, alone. In terms of regulatory responses, we could limit the use of drugs the way we limit the use of alcohol (e.g. drunk driving laws).
Also, consider the "symbolic threshold" line an individual crosses when violating a law for the first time. This "threshold" will disappear in a legalized regime, which points to less overall crime in society.
5. Prohibition increases the price of drugs while transferring that profit from the legitimate economy to the illicit one. On the most extreme end of such problems, drug profits can fund civil wars, finance 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 . . . If all we cared about was terrorism and insurgency, [then we should legalize drugs as a counterterrorist measure].”  Legalization transfers drug profits to the legitimate economy, solving this problem entirey.
6. Prohibition increases use of pubic health care resources because of poisonings/overdoses, HIV spreading, emergency-room treatment of gunshot wounds, etc. Moreover, evidence shows that dying early, before recieving social security or medicare, yields a net public inflow.  Plus, lower prices means more money to spend on healthcare expenses. And drug profits are incorporated into the economy. And taxed. Legalization thus improves the economy.
7. The most dangerous harms that need to be considered in a cost-benefit calculation are the ones we can't predict or plan for. 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 that occurred as a part of the crack trade in the 90s, specifically the increase in violent crime, gun prevalence, and so on. Prohibited markets are unpredictable. And that has major risks on public health (e.g. HIV), crime (e.g. crack trade), and potentially other social issues that we can't predict ahead-of-time. When you take these risks into account, predictable markets should prevail everytime.
Legalization produces better outcomes on almost every level. Vote Pro.
Sources in comments.
== Ethics ==
Firstly, Pro never actually tells us why we should believe that utility is subjective. Just because there is some epistemic uncertainty surrounding utilitarian calculations doesn't mean utility can't be objective. There are many objective features of reality which we only have imperfect approximations of, yet we rely on such approximations all the time in order to function as a society -- for example, the field of engineering relies on Newtonian physics despite its mild misrepresentations of the way reality actually works (i.e. an unknowable union of quantum theory and general relativity). However that does not inhibit the efficacy of the products of engineering, nor does it imply that the laws of physics are not objective.
Similarly, for moral decision-making, we can rely on approximations of utility that are based in our universally-shared rational intuitions. I demonstrated that drug legalization results in vast harms on all levels of society, and that Pro's benefits were minuscule in comparison -- there is no world in which that implies a net positive outcome. I don't need to provide an "objective weighing mechanism" for making utilitarian calculations because practical, intuition-based approximations suffice.
Furthermore, epistemic uncertainty is present in *all* ethical theories, including Pro's freedom-based one. Complete liberty implies that I have the freedom to enjoy a quiet evening at home, while my neighbor simultaneously has the freedom to host a monster truck destruction derby in his backyard. Yet these freedoms clearly contradict. Whose should be given priority? The Harm Principle provides no answers because no one is really being "harmed" in this situation. Thus, the result is epistemic uncertainty, and the solution is bound to consequentialist & intuition-based in nature.
Most importantly, Pro *dropped* my main justification for preferring utilitarianism over the Harm Principle -- that we are socially-interdependent beings who rely on millions of other people every day in order to survive, and thus we are obligated to value collective interests over individual interests. I'm clearly winning that utilitarianism should be the ethical criterion for this debate, as it is the only one that is really warranted, and Pro's criticisms of it are flawed & non-unique.
== Social Contract ==
Pro actually made a huge concession by admitting that government is justified via a social contract mechanism. The thing social contracts is that they are not bound by any external moral considerations -- literally any type of regime can be justified as long as there is some mechanism for opting-out of the contract (i.e. emigration). There is no maximum amount of freedom that people are allowed to give up in return for protection -- if they gave their implicit consent by continuing to live under the jurisdiction of that government, then they are obligated to live under its laws. In other words, by appealing to the contractual view of government, Pro severs law from ethics, and the legal status quo of the United States (i.e. its "social contract") is the only basis we have for affirming or negating the resolution. As I demonstrated last round, the United States' social contract is certainly *not* libertarian in nature, and thus the Harm Principle should be dropped out of the debate in favor of a pragmatic cost/benefit analysis approach to deciding government policy.
== Costs & Benefits ==
Let's start off by clarifying that no part of anything I said requires drug use to be inherently harmful. My case is based on the very simple idea that drug usage in the status quo has proven to be highly detrimental, and therefore increasing drug usage via legalization is probably going to exacerbate all the harms. Pro's main method of countering this logic is to point out effects associated with legalization which supposedly mitigate these harms.
(1) Increased Drug Usage
*** The rest got deleted by the site. Not enough time to type it all up again. ***
Pretty sure this dooms me to a loss, since I didn't cover pragmatics at all, and doing that in the final round would be unfair.
Vote Pro, I guess.
First, the harm principle isn't somehow opposed to utilitarianism. It rests on the concept of utility. So I don't understand why Con keeps opposing it to utilitarianism.
Second, utility is subjective in the sense that pleasure and health are incommensurate goods. In other words, there's no objective mechanism for weighing pleasure versus health. So individuals must weigh these goods subjectively. The harm principle thus maximizes utility in the context of drugs, because the costs/benefits aren't measurable through objective means, and because drug use is a self-regarding act that doesn't cause harm (or pleasure) to anyone but the user.
Anyway, vote Pro, because Con completely dropped my cost-benefit analysis, which clearly demonstrates how legalization is net beneficial to society compared with prohibition.
Yonko forfeited this round.
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