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The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of crimial justice.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2010 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,192 times Debate No: 14071
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
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Please note this is a Lincoln-Douglas Debate Format. DO NOT accept if you don't know how to debate Lincoln-Douglas. The negative should thus conclude at the bottom of the third round, but not with an argument as there is no 2NR.

I'd like to thank opponent for accepting this debate and wish him/her the best of luck.

I affirm the Resolved: The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice.

Before I continue, I offer the following definitions to clarify the round:

Abuse: the illegal, improper, or harmful use of something
Drugs: a natural or artificial substance given to treat or prevent disease or lesson pain or an addictive substance that causes changes in behavior and perception and is taken for the effects
Ought: used to indicate duty
(Encarta World English Dictionary)

I value societal welfare. Societal welfare is defined as a real-valued function that ranks conceivable social states from lowest to highest in matters such as health, safety, order, and economics. The resolution frames the area of concern in the round. This is because society suffers when its members have poor health outcomes, such as the negative consequences associated with drug use.

The criterion to thus weight the round must be consequentialism. Consequentialism is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as "whether an act is morally right depends only on consequences." This means the only way we can determine the morality or justification of any act is through a consequentialist framework. The resolution frames the area of concern for the round, being that of looking at the consequences, positive or negative, of both the criminal justice system and the public health approach when deciding how to treat the matter of abuse of illegal drugs. Thus, we default to the criterion of consequentialism, because we must look at the harms and benefits associated with these two systems.

CONTENTION ONE: The criminal justice system just covers up the problem of criminal behavior, undermining the solution and rights protections.

SUB POINT A: The criminal justice system ignores recidivism.

As most drugs come with side effects that can range from non-problematic uses to chronic dependency it is easy to see that the criminal justice system isn't fixing the problem, the addiction, rather attempting to put it on hold, only leading to an increased rate of recidivism amongst illegal drug users that increases as time goes on.

Bureau of Justice Statistics, Reentry Trends in the U.S.: Recidivism, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 25, 2002.

"Various studies have tracked convicts upon their release from prison in order to obtain recidivism data. For example, the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics tracked prisoners released in 1983 and in 1994. Those released in 1983 numbered 108,580 and were from 11 states; those released in 1994 comprised 272,111 prisoners released in 15 states. Of those released in 1983, 62.5 percent were rearrested within three years; 67.5 percent of prisoners released in 1994 were rearrested within three years. Almost 47 percent were re-convicted in both groups. Of the 1994 releases, 51.8 percent were back in prison within three years either due to re-conviction for a new crime or for violations of their parole.[2]"

SUB POINT B: The criminal justice system undermines rights protections.

In the process of apprehending offenders of illegal drugs, the criminal justice system not only ignores the problems, but creates its own in violating rights of the accused and infringing upon the right to own property. Especially for those who use illegal substances as a medical or other beneficial use.

Kimberly Powell, "Decriminalization of Drugs: A Logical Solution, Associated Content, 2005

"The deterioration of the economy and of individual rights is also a consequence of prohibition. Mandatory minimum sentencing for simple drug charges is a direct violation of the Bill of Rights, our eight amendments. Many of the sentences for inmates of drug charges are excessive and harmful to the cause of justice, because they are disproportionate to the crime committed and unreasonable. These tactics do nothing towards reducing crime rate, stopping the drug flow, prevention, rehabilitation or education. Our very own personal rights and freedoms are hanging on the withered string by the War on Drugs. The protector of our rights, the Supreme Court, has faulted us in the name of the War on Drugs by allowing otherwise illegal searches and seizures.

Thoman S. Szasz gives a defined argument that drugs are property and that we should not be denied our property rights by the federal government. This is another violation of our supposed ‘protected rights.' We are ‘sacrificing liberties, privacy, medical options, and institutions,' in the name of criminalizing and seeing no benefits."

By applying consequentialism we see that by switching to a public health approach we instate rehabilitation for harmful or chronic users rather than punishing an addiction that can't be cured by merely locking them up. Furthermore, we enhance our options in medical fields and institutions and decrease the funds in criminal apprehension by looking at the problem on a spectrum, rather than on a guilty, not-guilty stance; in doing so we help increase societal welfare as a whole.

CONTENTION TWO: The public health approach prevents harmful consequences by preventing drug abuse.

Where the criminal justice system fails to account for treatment and reduction of crime, the public health system has greatly enhanced the use of drugs and the use of institutions to cure drug related problems. Consequentially, it seems that the public health approach is the most viable option in today's society.

Mia Szalavitz, "Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?" Times Magazine April 26, 2009
At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to ‘drug tourists' and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise. The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled."
This evidence gives us a clear pictures of where consequentialism was used between two clashing view points and how, in the end, the abuse of illegal drugs being treated as a matter of public health substantially increased societal welfare and decreased the affiliated problems of negative drug use.

Thus, we can consequentially agree as Mia Szalavitz continues,
"A major problem with most American drug policy debate is that it's based on ‘speculation and fear mongering,' rather than empirical evidence on the effects of drug policies."

Thus, the only way to enhance societal welfare in terms of illegal drug abuse if through a firm vote in affirmation.


I'd like to thank my opponent for this opportunity and for what will be an interesting debate.

I negate the resolution Resolved: The abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health, not of criminal justice.

I accept my opponent's definitions.

In this round, the burden of the affirmative is to prove that the abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of public health and not of criminal justice and the burden of the negation is to prove that the abuse of illegal drugs ought to be treated as a matter of criminal justice, not of public health.

I present my value of justice. Justice is absolutely essential for the creation and maintenance of any form of society. It provides the basis for any good accomplished by the human race. Without justice, civilization would fall into anarchy. Criminal justice ensures a fair and unbiased system for dealing with drug users and for preventing abusers from having a negative impact on society. Public health is subject to bias and regional limitations and therefore isn't sufficient for upholding justice.

My criterion is criminal justice. Because criminal justice, as I will prove through my arguments, provides a fair and reasonable means of treating the abuse of illegal drugs, it invariably leads to justice.

CONTENTION 1: Criminal justice discourages the abuse of illegal drugs
The presence of a system of consequences acts as a deterrent from further or initial drug use. Knowing that the law prohibits actions such as the abuse of illegal drugs prevents many people from beginning drug use and it is a major factor in the decision to stop abuse. Because criminal justice prevents the abuse of illegal drugs, it improves the situation and creates a more just, safe, and healthy society. The public health system doesn't discourage the initial use of drugs and therefore doesn't stop the problem.

CONTENTION 2: Public health is unjust
The public health system provides an unfair and unjust mean of dealing with drug abusers. There isn't a fair system in place when it comes to public health, as opposed to criminal justice wherein an impartial process is in place. There isn't a way to monitor the treatment and rehabilitation of those going through public health. Also, rural or impoverished regions don't have the access to money needed to establish and maintain a productive public health system. Running a rehabilitation center requires much more money than a simple legal system.

CONTENTION 3: Not using the criminal justice system reduces governmental legitimacy.
Because this resolution is referring to the abuse of illegal drugs, it's an issue of legality. Because this abuse is unlawful, the lack of retribution lowers the reputation of the government both within the nation itself and among the international community. If the citizens do not respect the government, then its ability to be productive and forward-moving is severely limited and progress is not made. Without progress, humans either remain stagnant or devolve, which can lead to dehumanization, anarchy, and an inability to improve the individual nation or humanity as a whole. Also, if a country is not respected by other nations, this can lead to mass dehumanization of the entire country because of an inability for the less-respected region to be properly represented among the international community. In addition, this lack of equal representation would lead to an increase in global tension and violence between nations.

Public health and�criminal justice�are�inseparable and therefore you can not have a just public health system without a criminal justice system.
1. The only way to enforce public health is through criminal justice. When deciding the course of action regarding the abuse of illegal drugs, the court system is always used to provide a fair and�legal plan of action�regarding the offender.�
2. The public health option is the same as the legal justice system.
a) Getting forced treatment takes away from the rights of the abuser and is similar to jail. Having no option regarding rehabilitation will mean that the abuser will most likely return to�drug abuse�after the mandatory counseling period.
b) While in jail, drug abusers are given the option of treatment. Therefore, going through the criminal system gives both punishment, which acts as a�deterrence�for potential drug abuse, and aid for those who need it. This both prevents illegal use and helps people who want aid, rather than public health, which merely forces ineffective treatment.�


My value of justice is a prerequisite to my opponent's value of societal welfare as well as a wider-reaching and more expansive idea. Without justice, which is the moral basis for any good accomplished by the human race, societal welfare can not be achieved. In addition, justice applies to all human beings, whether or not they are part of a functioning society. For these reasons, justice is the value that should be prioritized in this round.

My criterion of criminal justice more directly links to my value of justice than my opponent's criterion of consequentialism links to their value of societal welfare. My entire case shows how criminal justice is inherently just and morally profitable to those involved. Conversely, determining the consequences of an action does not mean that that action can or will be achieved, making the determination void. Additionally, because criminal justice has a moral consequence, it adequately covers my opponent's criterion of consequentialism.

SUB POINT A: "The criminal justice system ignores recidivism."
Although recidivism is an issue, my opponent fails to address the fact that the initial abuse of drugs is the conscious choice of the abuser. Because drug abuse stems from a knowledgeable person committing an illegal action, it ought to be treated through the criminal justice system in order to maintain governmental legitimacy, deter crime, and stop the cycle of abuse and crime. In addition, public health is no better than criminal justice at preventing drug abuse than criminal justice. Because in most circumstances, unless aided by criminal justice, the public health treatment system is not mandatory, drug abusers have to choose to get help. They are more likely to return to abuse and crime without the threat of imprisonment.
SUB POINT B: "The criminal justice system undermines rights protections."
Not all objects should fall under the umbrella of legal protection of property. For example, if a citizen possessed a nuclear weapon, the law enforcement would be fully justified in seizing the weapon and incarcerating the individual because of the object's illegal status. Similarly, because of the negative impacts of illegal drugs (and therefore not prescribed drugs used for medical treatment) are so vast, authorities are justified in criminally processing individuals in possession of illegal drugs. Additionally, the criminal justice system involves treatment for those who abuse illegal drugs, which makes treatment in general a non-unique feature of public health.

CONTENTION 2: "The public health approach prevents harmful consequences by preventing drug abuse"
As stated above, the criminal justice system does involve treatment centers for those suffering from an addiction to illegal drugs and therefore does prevent drug abuse in that manner. Additionally, criminal justice provides a deterrent for future or initial use, and therefore prevents drug abuse and reduces crime more than public health. In regards to my opponent's claim that "the public health approach is the most viable option in today's society," criminal justice is less biased and more evolved and adapted to deal with problems regarding legality than the public helath system is and therefore is in fact the more viable option.

For these reasons, in order to protect justice and to create a moral society, I urge a stron
Debate Round No. 1


foxholemanifesto forfeited this round.


Badgerclaw22 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


foxholemanifesto forfeited this round.


Good debate, haha.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by didurmom 7 months ago
i think u all need to get some weed or xanax and chill the fuk out find ur zens
Posted by Badgerclaw22 5 years ago
So, foxholemanifesto, does you forfeiting the next round mean that this debate is over? Sorry, just a little confused.
Posted by foxholemanifesto 5 years ago
joshuaXlawyer, you still need evidence to warrant your arguments. Yes, the intent of LD is to uphold some level of morality through a philosophical ideal, but the impacts associated with those claims can do a lot to further your arguments. It's about merging the two to create a more effective argument rather than lashing out absurd comments for no reason or wit no backup. :/
Posted by Badgerclaw22 5 years ago
joshuaXlawyer: I do somewhat agree with your comment in that LDers seem to be focusing way too much on cards and statistics. I prefer to stick with a moral debate and only use evidence when I need to. But it's still good practice and it doesn't really matter, so ... yeah.
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
Its not that hard. Its just a regular debate except you pick some random value and criteria to uphold in the round. They really aren't that important and like regular debates it just comes down to who wins te actual arguments.
Posted by Sam_Lowry 5 years ago
I would take this if I did LD. The definition of drug is wide open for heavy exploitation.
Posted by THE_OPINIONATOR 5 years ago
joshuaXlawyer you need not lash out at things you need not lash out about. It is not worth the time and energy
Posted by joshuaXlawyer 5 years ago
Why debate LD if you throw a entire contention thats a statistic im tired of all these losers who mix policy with LD its frankly stupid.
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