Debate Rounds (3)
It should be noted that my spelling in not Americanised so please do not penalise me for that as it British English, and please do not penalise me for this either!
It should be noted that there is a huge amount of interest around Cannabis. It is a political "hot potato" in many countries, both for those who agree with it's use and aim to promote it legalisation and those who oppose it's use and want effective policing and enforcing of the law to stop its use completely.
In the UK millions have been spent identifying the dangers and benefits of the use of cannabis and the UK government has changed its position due to conflicting research. Cannabis is licensed for sufferers of multiple sclerosis of which I have little argument against
Risks of taking drug.
•Myocardial infarction increased chance by x4.8 (heart attack). Mental health (2001), Guardian (2001)
•It increases the risk x2 of non-affective psychosis, risk x4 of delusions, Telegraph (2010)
•It can lead to other serious mental health problems and increases the chance of cancer much more than cigarettes.
•Even hardcore smokers can become anxious, panicky and suspicious.
•It affects your coordination, which is one of the reasons why drug driving is just as illegal as drink driving.
•Some people think cannabis is harmless because it's a plant – but it isn't harmless. Cannabis, like tobacco, has lots of chemical 'nasties', which can cause lung disease and cancer with long-term or heavy use, especially as it is often mixed with tobacco. Cannabis can also make asthma worse.
•Cannabis is risky for anyone with a heart problem as it increases the heart rate and can affect blood pressure.
•There's also increasing evidence of a link between cannabis and mental health problems such as schizophrenia. If you have a history of mental health problems, depression or you suffer from paranoia, then taking this drug is not a good idea.
•Frequent use of cannabis can cut a man's sperm count and suppress ovulation in women. If you're pregnant, smoking cannabis may harm the baby.
•Regular, heavy use makes it difficult to learn and concentrate. Some people feel tired all the time and can't get motivated.
•Some users may want to buy stronger herbal cannabis to get a bigger 'high', but unpleasant reactions can be more powerful when you use stronger strains. Stronger varieties may lead to more severe dependence or more severe mental health effects, NHS (2009), NHS (2009a).
•Chance of schizophrenia increased by 40%, Guardian (2007)
•Increases the chance of depression, NHS (2010)
•Due to paranoia although initially calming the drug can cause aggressive and even violent behaviour. Long term user can maintain a distinct temper more so than previous, even after ceasing the drug, Case Study (2010)
•Cannabis is psychologically addictive, NHS (2009)
Driving whilst under the influence of cannabis increases the risk of being involved in an accident by a factor of 10, BBC (2005).
Cannabis is extremely dangerous and destructive, Youtube (2010)
There maybe arguments that try and persuade us that to legalise Cannabis would protect individuals from impure drugs from dealers, this maybe true to a degree but it is not sufficient reason to legalise the destructive drug. People also argue that they do not want a criminal record when they only "smoke a little weed", and although I sympathise with this position they need to realise they are supporting criminal gangs usually. It is my view that if people "need" cannabis then they need therapy not understanding.
With all due respect to your argument and position I don't believe the government has either the right nor the moral authority to prohibit what substances people put into their bodies for either medicinal or recreational or other purposes. Practically, the war on drugs has been a dismal failure. Just like prohibitions on alcohol, gambling, prostitution, etc., they do not work. They push the activity underground and create opportunities for the criminal element and, likewise, opportunities for the corruption of police and other public officials. Generally, such laws are enforced inconsistently and to the detriment of the most vulnerable individuals in society.
You have listed many health issues with marijuana which there is no argument against. But statistically speaking aspirin kills more people annually around the world than does marijuana. In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity but yet remains illegal. Aspirin, alcohol, even Tylenol all of which are perfectly legal I cannot say the same for. At present it is estimated that marijuana's LD-50 is around 1:20,000 or 1:40,000. In layman terms this means that in order to induce death a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response. This means it is almost impossible to kill yourself smoking marijuana even if you tried.
1) Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality. The record on marijuana encompasses 5,000 years of human experience. Marijuana is now used daily by enormous numbers of people throughout the world. Estimates suggest that from twenty million to fifty million Americans routinely, albeit illegally, smoke marijuana without the benefit of direct medical supervision. Yet, despite this long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible medical reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death.
The leading causes of death in 2000 were tobacco (435,000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000 deaths; 16.6%), and alcohol consumption (85,000 deaths; 3.5%). Other actual causes of death were microbial agents (75,000), toxic agents (55,000), motor vehicle crashes (43,000), incidents involving firearms (29,000), sexual behaviors (20,000), and illicit use of drugs (17,000). Tobacco causes 18.1% of total deaths in the US. But it is legal with a warning that it can kill you. Why can the same not be done with cannabis?
personally I have been around all types of people and drugs. Drinking brings out the worst in people. When alcohol is heavily consumed people can barely walk, much less drive or do anything productive. When I am around a group of people who are smoking marijuana we all laugh and get really hungry and eat. I passed my certification and licence exam for massage therapy with flying colors whilst high on marijuana. I studied for months before the test high also. The weed helps me concentrate. My best friend and roommate used to suffer severely from depression. I introduced him to marijuana and I have never seen a guy with a better outlook on life. What I am trying to get at is that there are much much worse things out there that are legal and it upsets me that marijuana is so looked down upon for mainly health issues less lethal then common over the counter drugs.
"… I don't believe the government has either the right nor the moral authority to prohibit what substances people put into their bodies for either medicinal or recreational or other purposes"
Although this is your personal belief, not directly an argument for legalisation of Cannabis, and you have provided no evidence to support the claim or references, I will answer it.
In a western democracy the government is elected by the people, and the authority of the government has been collectively been given by the people. Although minority or opposing groups may not appreciate the moral, political or educational stance of a particular government they do have authority and a right to govern. One of the most important aspects of a government is to keep people of the nation safe, so they also have a right to make laws in order to do this, and however imperfect have systems to monitor the impartiality and evaluate its effectiveness, Democracy (2010). The constitutions of the United States also give legal rights to both government and the people governed, Archives (2010). It should be noted that the federal government of the United States of America has sovereignty over the people and can dictate laws, Wikipedia (2010). Whether or not these laws are always effect is another debate.
So with this evidence shows the government has the right and the moral authority that you state it does not have.
"Practically, the war on drugs has been a dismal failure. Just like prohibitions on alcohol, gambling, prostitution, etc., they do not work. They push the activity underground and create opportunities for the criminal element and, likewise, opportunities for the corruption of police and other public officials. Generally, such laws are enforced inconsistently and to the detriment of the most vulnerable individuals in society."
Although an argument to legalise something because of a lack outright success in tackling a problem is a poor one and there again are neither references nor evidence to back up your theories, I will respond.
The word failure is a strong powerful word but is not appropriately used in Pro's argument. Regardless of whether or not something is efficient as it could be, this is not necessarily failure. Failure happens when the aim has been abandoned; it has been given up, surrendered, or not achieved the desired end. Free Dictionary (2010). I think it can be agreed that there are different "wars on drugs" and although there may be some programs that fail and are some that are currently losing strategically, the philosophical aim should remain. The general war on drugs, the illegal use and its negative effect on people and society is an on-going affair.
The war on drugs is a right and just war. It is not about the rights of certain people to engage in drug use, it is about the protection of innocent people, children, society and our future. It is about disempowering gangs, criminals and even terrorist groups, YouTube (2010). It is about removing their power, propaganda, money, abusive empires, and this takes time, re-education and commitment, YouTube (2010a). The historic argument about the ineffectiveness of the prohibition of prostitution, alcohol and gambling is another debate; however the effectiveness of an ability to tackle a problem should not stop the aim. If you were going to die, suffer loss or be ineffective in protecting someone you loved would you not try? It could be argued that a hero is one who fights a noble cause regardless of success, Wordnet (2010).
The addictive nature of drugs has not been mentioned but this is a huge factor in changing people's character, YouTube (2010b), YouTube (2010c) which devastates their lives, their families, YouTube (2010d) and the community. The addiction is often exploited to control the individual either intentionally or indirectly. Many drug addicts turn to theft, YouTube (2010e), which often can be violent, YouTube (2010e). Prostitution is a huge problem that affects mainly female, but also male addicts who often became prostitutes to pay for their habit. The argument that decriminalising drugs would in some way protect the vulnerable and limit criminal activity is a false one. In the UK drug addicts who are on special programs are legally prescribed methadone, and even heroin but this is often supplemented in addition to the illegal drugs addicts or even sold on by the drug without the programs knowledge. Although the abuse of the system does not happen all the time it is frequent. As a qualified medical professional I have witnessed these things first hand over several years and worked with addicts on a voluntary basis.
So arguments about causing underground activity because drugs are illegal are not substantiated and even proved false in many instances.
The argument that some legal drugs have health issues I consider to also be another debate. Illegal drugs do not merely cause physical, emotional and social health risks, they are also addictive. Aspirin is not addictive and in the UK the amount you can purchase is controlled, along with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.
In my previous round I have given numerous references to back my claims that Cannabis is dangerous, as I have already given references I will merely re-utter what I have already said on this matter.
1/ Cannabis causes cancer more than smoking tobacco
2/ Cannabis is often a precursor to more lethal and addictive drugs
3/ Cannabis has been proved to increase psychosis, severe mental health problems, mood swings, altered behaviour and delusions.
4/ Cannabis increase the risk of accidents whilst driving a vehicle.
5/ Cannabis reduce concentration and evidence shows increased brain damage by prolonged users.
The argument that something that is legal (ie: pharmaceutical drug) with possible dangerous side effects gives an automatic right to make illegal drugs legal, is ill-informed and a faulty philosophical argument. Whilst I understand Pro's frustration that drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are not illegal, it should be noted that they are illegal for minors. Whether or not these drugs should be totally illegal or not is another debate.
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