The Instigator
Ore_Ele
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
InsertNameHere
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Tobacco is more harmful than Marijuana

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Ore_Ele
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2011 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,698 times Debate No: 15194
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (19)
Votes (2)

 

Ore_Ele

Con

I thank INH for accepting this challenge. I will be defending against the claim that "tobacco is more harmful than marijuana."

Since the purpose of this debate is related around the question on whether marijuana should be legal or not as a recreational drug, we should only be considering the chemical effects of each plant, not the economic implications, nor weird situations like, if a 500 lb bag of compressed marijuana leaves falls off of a 7 story building and hits you, it would be no different than a 500 lb bag of compressed tobacco leaves.

Some definitions.

Harmful - being capable of causing harm.
Harm - negative effects to the personal body (this includes the brain)
Tobacco - the leaves of the Nicotiana genus of plants (commonly refered to as tobacco plants).
Marijuana - the leaves of the Cannabis genus of plants.

I will let my opponent go first.

Thank you,
InsertNameHere

Pro

I thank my opponent for setting up this debate. As stated, I'll be arguing that tobacco is more harmful than marijuana. I accept my opponent's definitions and good luck to both of us!

I'll begin this debate by mentioning that tobacco cigarettes contain over 4,000 different chemicals. These include benzene, Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Acetone, Tar, Nicotine, Carbon Monoxide, Arsenic, and Hydrogen Cyanide to name a few. Many of the harmful effects are listed here: http://www.quit-smoking-stop.com...

Obviously, Nicotine has also been proven to be one of the most addictive drugs. For many people it can often takes months, even years to stop using it. It is also worth pointing out that about 440,000 Americans a year die from tobacco use.(http://www.nida.nih.gov...) These figures equate to about 18% of the total deaths in the US annually out of approx. 2,423,712. http://www.cdc.gov... This is substantial.

I have decided to keep the first round brief in order to give my opponent a chance to create an argument for his side. I'll now be handing it over to him. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
Ore_Ele

Con

I thank INH in posting the first round of the debate.

I will first address her claims and than move on to my own. I will also not be addressing her claims in order, since that will help with the flow of the debate.

The first claim I wish to address the claim "that about 440,000 Americans a year die from tobacco use." I have two things to point out about this claim, one that makes it false, and one that makes it meaningless even if it were true.

1) If you were to make a tobacco milkshake, than add rat poison to it, drink it and die, would you have been killed by tobacco? No, it would have been the rat poison that killed you. This claim is actually short for "440,000 americans a year die from tobacco product usage." The fact is that they are dying from other chemicals that are being added to those products and not from the tobacco itself. My opponent also states "that tobacco cigarettes contain over 4,000 different chemicals," but doesn't quite extend that to the truth that it is those added chemicals, not the tobacco that causes the deaths. Tobacco is just getting a bad rap since it the primary ingredient (but not the only). In my arguments later on, I'll go more indepth into the actual effects of the chemicals within tobacco.

2) Even if we accept that the deaths fall on tobacco, that does not make it more harmful. Drowning claims the lives of about 1.2 million people in the world each year [1]. Nuclear bombs claim 0 each year. If we accept that the number of annual deaths represent something's harm, than we must accept that water is more harmful than nuclear bombs and that, in fact, nothing is less harmful than nuclear bombs. Reductio ad absurdum.

The second claim I wish to address is "Nicotine has also been proven to be one of the most addictive drugs." This claim is probably going to be a little harder to tackle, since the addiction of tobacco-based cigarettes is well known. However, what is not well known is why. Actually, we are not fully sure why nicotine is so addicting. Currently, we believe that it ties back to dopamine receptors in the brain, which gives us our feelings of pleasure [3][4]. This is something that is true for all drugs, not just nicotine [4], the reason that nicotine gets such a tight grip on some people is that they may smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, or more. If a person were to smoke 2 dozen joints a day for a month they would also experience heavy addictions (if they even survived).

Now to move on to my arguements against the resolution.

First, we have to find an accurate way of measuring one plant against another. It is well known that too much of anything can kill you (see water poisoning), so the ideal situation would be to compare X grams of tobacco vs X grams of marijuana. I think comparing 4 g (5 cigarettes) to 4 g (since people roll their joints at different sizes, it is hard to say how many joints this would be, but most of what I found suggested that the average joint was about 1 gram or a little less, so about 4 joints) would be ideal, however, if my opponent wishes to do a different measurement, that is fine too.

The average tobacco plant has between 0.6% and 3.0% nicotine of dry weight [2]. So 4 g of tobacco will yield between 24 mg and 120 mg of nicotine. I believe that taking the middle figure woud be ideal (1.8% or 72 mg of nicotine) since a cigarette has about 1.3% of weight as nicotine, this seems accurate. Doing the same with marijuana, we find that marijuana has, on average, between 1.0% and 5.0% THC of dry weight [5]. So by taking the middle (for consistancy), we will use 3.0%. So 4 g of marijuana will yield 120 mg of THC.

It would also be worth pointing out how effective getting those chemicals out of the plants and into our bodies, however, due to the fact that different consumption methods have different results, and that it would be nearly imposible to try to cover all the different methods and cross compare them to each other. Since smoking is the most common way of absorbtion (even though there are different ways of ding that, like holding your breath to maximize absorbtion), I believe we should use that. Even though a single cigarette has about 13 mg of nicotine in it, only 1 mg actually enters your blood (7.7% absorbtion rate) [9]. Marijuana is the same if smoked the same way (obviously, if you hold your breath, the absorbtion increases, however, we want everthing to be equal). That brings our numbers down to 9.25 mg for THC and 5.5 mg for Nicotine actually enters the blood through standard absorbtion techniques (out of 4 grams of marijuana vs 4 grams of tobacco).

So for an accurate comparison, we should compare 9.25 mg of THC to 5.5 mg of nicotine. Another important thing to consider with the dangers of any substance is how well the body metabolizes it. Nicotine is metabolized by the liver and passed by the kidneys rather simply [2][9] and that the concentrations were off very quickly (as do the effects, which is one reason people smoke multiple times a day), we see that over 60% is gone within 2 hours, or approximately 22.5% per hour. This means that building up to high levels is very difficult, as the body will likely be able to process the nicotine and remove it (like with marijuana, there is never been a recorded OD death from smoking tobacco). When we look at THC, we see something similar, yet slightly different. The motabolites are still psychoactive and are fat-soluble [6]. This means that the drug of THC lasts longer and stays in the body longer (so that build up of the drug is more likely to occur). Infact, the drug will hold about 20% after 5 days [7]. That means that only 0.186% is processed per hour once it is in the fat (or about 4.4% per 1, 24 hours). This, of course varies depending on exercising habits. When you exercise and burn fat, that releases more than the natural rate (which is why if you test, you may not show any trace amounts, than if you exercise, it may come back and be detectable in a urine test).

Now the lethal doses for THC are estimated at about 40 mg/kg (when inhaled, it is different for consumed orally) based on studies on rats. This means that an 80 kg person would need to have 3,200 mg of THC enter their blood to kill them. We see that is well above the number that 4 joints would produce (9.25 mg by about 345 times). The estimated lethal doses for Nicotine are about 1 mg/kg (also when inhaled), so that same person would need 80 mg of Nicotine to kill them. We can see that that is also well about the 5 cigarettes would produce (5.5 mg by 14.5 times). This would give the impression that the nicotine in 4 grams of tobacco is closer to the lethal dosage than the THC in 4 grams of marijuana. However, since nicotine passes through the body much more efficiently, this is actually not the case. If one consumes 6 mg of THC per hour, it will eventually build up to a leathal dose (granted, it would take over 100 days of smoking that much every hour). But one must consume 18 mg of nicotine every hour to reach the lethal levels.

If we go with the numbers from the 4 grams of our two plants consumed every hour. One would OD from THC in 9 days and 1 hour, while one would never reach the OD limit for Nicotine. I will address non-lethal harms in my next round. Only 8 characters left, lol.

[1] http://www.ilsf.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.respiratoryreviews.com...
[4] http://neuroscience.uchicago.edu...
[5] http://www.nhtsa.gov...
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[7] http://atlantarecoverycenter.com...
[8] http://alcoholism.about.com...
[9] http://pharmrev.aspetjournals.org...
InsertNameHere

Pro

InsertNameHere forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Ore_Ele

Con

Since I've already addressed the lethalness of the main chemicals in each Marijuana and Tobacco in my previous post, I will be using this round to address the harmful effects of the plants in question and their primary chemicals.

I will address in two steps. Harms in the short term (during usage) and harms in the long term (this will include withdrawl issues). I will also point out that it is not my opinion that marijuana is worse than tobacco in every measure, and that if you focus on individuals points (such as the withdrawls), than tobacco is indeed more harmful. However, I encourage everyone to look at tobacco and marijuana in there entirety to see which "whole-package" is more harmful.

Tobacco and Nicotine, both short term and long term.

One thing that makes it difficult to find accurate articles on the effect of nicotine, is that it is so closely tied to smoking, and so the effects of smoking are often attributed to the tobacco and nicotine, even though they are not caused by them (see my reasoning for that in the second round). That said, I will try to give the effects of nicotine and how that effect is created in the body.

Nicotine works in the body in a similar way as most drugs. It attaches itself to receptors in the brain and causes a release of dopamine (which makes you feel good). Since nicotine was actually commonly used long before we understood the makeup of the brain, the receptors that it attaches itself it have actually been named after it, the nicotinic acetylcholin receptors [1]. When nicotine binds with them, it causes them to send a signal to their partner to "release the dopamine" (in my best Mr. Burns voice). This dopamine has its own list of effects, depending the amount of dopamine released. They include, mostly, increased peeing (caused by increased blood flow to the kidneys and causes sodium levels to drop), increased heartrate, and at high enough levels, increased blood pressure from restricted blood vessels (this undoes the increased kidney functoin, as the contrasting blood vesels can pinch off blood supply to the kindeys) [7]. Nicotine also connects to the splanchnic nerves to release epinephrine and connects to ganglion receptors to release adrenaline. The adrenaline also causes increased heart rates and blood pressure. The adrenaline also causes the user to increase metabolism and decreases the desire to eat (since the body's purpose for adrenaline is to give sudden energy in a life or death situation, you wouldn't want to be reminded that you are hungry when trying not to become food yourself). The release of dopamine and adrenaline are likely what causes nicotine to have a lower LD50 than THC (since dopamine and adrenaline work agaisnt each other).

Long term effects of high dopamine amounts in the body put extra strain on the kindeys and heart, and the extended adrenaline that would come from long term nicotine usage also puts extra strain on the heart. This is one of the effects from smoking which IS a fault of nicotine, as opposed to most of the lung issues which are from the various other chemicals in the smoke.

When frequently used, the nicotine actually damages the receptors in the brain (as do all drugs) so that they will not release any of the chemicals (dopamine or adrenaline) without the nicotine acting as a middle agent. This causes the user to "crave" the nicotine so that it can get those levels of dopamine back up (causing an addiction). This also means that when a person is cut off from nicotine (like when someone tries to quit), they experience depression as the body does not release dopamine on its own at as high of a level as it should otherwise. This is actually seen with nerely all activities that raise the dopamine levels, such as all drugs, and even sex (see sex addictions).

Moving on to Marijuana and THC, both short term effects and long term effects.

THC, when it enters the body, binds with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain (we apparently names most of our brain after drugs, lol) in the centeral nervous system and in the immune system [2]. By doing so, they also cause the brain to release dopamine, and so causes some of the same issues with nicotine. The general feel good effects (relaxation and euphoria), as well as the same side effects (increased kidney blood flow at low levels, increased heart rate at high levels). However, THC does not cause a release of adrenaline, but it does cause the brain cells to release calcium ions (which the brain uses for electrical signals). These calcium ions cause a distortion in the brains ability to transfer data (thus causing at low, typical doses, short term memory loss, to alterations of space and time, to alteration of the senses, to at high levels, full blown hallucinations). And since THC and its metabolites are fat soluble, they stay in one's system for a much longer time, and when a large amount of fat is burned (like in exercising), a large amount can be released, causing secondary highs.

Long term usage can lead to similar effects as long term nicotine, in that it can put extra strain on the kidneys (from the dopamine) and even stain on the heart (but not as much as nicotine, since the nicotine has the adrenaline effect adding to that). But the messing with the calcium ions in the brain can have long term effects to perminately damaging short term memory and perception (if large doses are taken for a long time).

The addictive effects of marijuana are about the same as they are for nicotine. The only difference is how we measure "light usage" and "heavy usage."

Since a "light smoker" would be someone that smokes 15 cigarettes a day (the average smoker in the USA smokes 28 cig a day). However, if someone was smoking 15 joints a day of marijuana, they would probably be one of the heaviest smokers in the world. And they would also experience harsher withdrawls than the individual smoking 15 cigarettes a day if both tried to quit cold turkey.

Many of the links were not used for specific sentences, so I didn't reference them to any particular sentence, but here they are.

Thank you,

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://www.nida.nih.gov...
[4] http://learnmem.cshlp.org...
[5] http://articles.sfgate.com...
[6] http://www.drugs.com...
[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...
InsertNameHere

Pro

I sincerely apologize for my forfeit in the previous round, but I'll proceed to try to address most, if not all of my opponent's points.

Firstly, my opponent points out the chemicals in marijuana stay in the body longer thus making it easier to overdose. However, because of the quick intake and quick release of the chemicals in tobacco, there could be cases where one doesn't actually know how much they're taking in. This could serve as a potential risk to tobacco smokers. As pointed out before, it doesn't take much of either to overdose.

Secondly, my opponent mentions the effects of each on the body. Because of the release of adrenaline while smoking tobacco heavy smokers could potentially starve themselves. Smokers of marijuana, on the other hand, have not been known to experience such effects. To address the long term affects, without the proper release of dopamine from the brain your cognitive abilities, sleep, mood, attention, memory, and ability to learn are all affected. http://en.wikipedia.org... Without these basic functions a person would have slight difficulty even carrying out simple tasks. As my opponent pointed out, long term marijuana use seems to mostly only affect memory, not having the release of dopamine so much involved. However, the physical effects tend to be much the same such as the strain on the kidneys.

Lastly, tobacco use also has other lighter effects not yet mentioned in this debate. Some unpleasantly affect your physical appearance such as yellowing of the teeth and fingers and gray complexion. Other effects include smoker's cough which is a reaction to your body trying to remove the harmful chemicals, circulation problems(smokers become more sensitive to heat and cold), shortness of breath, lack of energy due to the oxygen flow being interrupted, dry mouth, dizzy spells, and lastly many smokers eventually lose their senses of taste and smell. Not having a sense of smell, a smoker could leave the company of fellow smokers smelling unpleasantly like tobacco and not realizing it among other things. http://www.acneskincaretreatments.com...

Again, this is brief, but I wish both my opponent and I good luck in the final round!
Debate Round No. 3
Ore_Ele

Con

My opponent makes a good case, in that Tobacco (namely the Nicotine) takes less to OD on, and so it is more likely for that OD limit to sneak up on you than it is with the THC from Marijuana. While, by the numbers, it is "more" likely, in a real world event, it isn't really plausible for either to be able to "sneak up on you." Even if you were to smoke 20 mg of Nicotine every hour (25 cigarettes each hour), you'd take 10 hours to reach that fatal dose of nicotine (I think you'd die of other things first, after smoking 12 1/2 packs of cigarettes in a single day). It isn't so likely that one would be able to go through all that and claim at the end that it snuck up on them.

I would next like to address my opponent's claim towards "smoker's cough" and other side-effects. It is important to note that these effects are not unique to tobacco and its chemicals, but to the effects of smoke in general on the body. Which can come from smoking too much tobacco, or from smoking too much marijuana, or from inhaling too much smoke from the fireplace over a long period of time. So it is not accurate to list those effects as effects of tobacco.

My opponent also addresses that the release of adrenaline from the nicotine (which is not present with THC) causes hunger to be surpressed. While THC causes people to get hungry. Looking at the US and other developed nations, I have to wonder which is a worse side-effect, causing people to eat less? Or causing people to eat more? Given the obesity rate, I'd venture a guess that eating more is probably the worse effect. I know that this is technically a strawman, but should it be brought up that in the world as a whole, starvation is a bigger problem, I'd like to say that starvation does not occur because people are not hungry, but because there is no food for them (if this wasn't the last round, I'd wait for the actual argument to be made).

I'd like to sum up what has been shown here so far.

Even though the nicotine in tobacco has a lower LD50 than the THC in marijuana, it takes more nicotine consumed each hour (about 3 times as much each hour) in order to reach that dosage because of how much more quickly the body processes the nicotine. So we know that nicotine is less likely to kill you (it is worth noting that no one has ever died from a THC overdose from marijuana, there have been several ODs from THC pills, but there has never been an OD from nicotine from a credible source).

It seems that the effects of the dopamine release from both the nicotine and THC are going to cause some similar effects (addicting, kidney strain, blood pressure, and heart rate), the differences for each should be reminded. While nicotine releases adrenaline (strain on heart and blood pressure), THC effects the sodium in the brain (causing the pyschoactive effects listed earlier). While each person is free to determine which efferts do greater "harm" for themselves, it should be noted that in worse case senerios, hearts and kidneys can be replaced, brains cannot (as of now).

I thank my opponent and the readers of this debate.
InsertNameHere

Pro

InsertNameHere forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by makhdoom5 3 years ago
makhdoom5
even in America they give licensee for peoples to have marijuana garden.
but in our country its very where. loll.
we call it dirty plant. as it stink a lot.
Posted by makhdoom5 3 years ago
makhdoom5
yes indeed. tobacco is more dangerous. even the marijuana is use to treat cancer.
it destroy our blood cells. so they also destroy cancer cells.
but peoples get marijuana with cigarette. so there is no point they are gonna take both at the same time.
Posted by InsertNameHere 5 years ago
InsertNameHere
This is pretty much in the box, OreEle is pwning. xD
Posted by InsertNameHere 5 years ago
InsertNameHere
Oh sh*t... I was busy with a friend and forgot about this. I wonder if I can whip something up in 16 mins?
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
Well, you could argue that it is all about how one chooses to measure. Nicotine has a much lower LD50 (leathal dose for 50% of people) than THC, so that can be indicated to saying it is more harmful. Even though nicotine passes through the body faster so it is harder to reach that LD50.

For example, if one takes in 6 mg of THC an hour every hour (that's about 2.5 - 3 joints per hour), it'll take 97 days to kill them (to get within 99.99% of the LD50).

For Nicotine, unless you take 18 mg per hour, you'll never reach the LD50 level, but if you do take the 18 mg per hour, it'll only take 3 days to kill them (to get within 99.99% of LD50). Technically, they'll never reach the exact LD50 because of the principles of limits, but they get darn close.

Please note, that these numbers are for an 80kg person. It would be different for a 50kg person.
Posted by InsertNameHere 5 years ago
InsertNameHere
Hmm...I'm stuck on how I'm going to address this(especially since so much of it is numbers and I'm literally retarded when it comes to math). At least I still have one more day.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
Sorry, and I only got to lethality of the two drugs. I didn't even get to the non-lethal effects of each (and I only had 8 characters left).
Posted by InsertNameHere 5 years ago
InsertNameHere
Yea, I still haven't read through the whole thing and I'm supposed to respond to it. -__-
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
It's funny going over some of the research. Apparently (in a study in 1997), receiving nicotine via an enema in not a very effective way of getting the drug into one's system. That is good to know, lol.
Posted by Ore_Ele 5 years ago
Ore_Ele
I'm surprised anyone actually read through the entire thing. I was getting nervous that most people would just skip through it.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Ore_EleInsertNameHereTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro would have taken this without a forfeit.
Vote Placed by Zealous1 5 years ago
Zealous1
Ore_EleInsertNameHereTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.