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RFD for Marijuana Legalization Debate

whiteflame
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12/10/2015 12:06:55 AM
Posted: 12 months ago
This is an RFD for the debate between KingofEverything and ColeTrain at this link: http://www.debate.org...

Just a note off the top: I'm representing the Voter's Union in my vote on this debate, as I am for all of the debates I'm voting on currently.

Much of this debate is pretty straightforward, mainly due to lapses in rebuttals, but I'll get to those as I go through the arguments. Couple of overviews first, though.

OV1) I'm at a loss for why there's no actual case being discussed here. Legalization can take a lot of forms, and more importantly, regulations can take a lot as well. It's important to explain how your legalization takes place, and examine what you would do to minimize the potential harms. The FDA does exist and does regulate drug availability and usage. Pro could have made this solely about medical marijuana and made it prescription only, minimizing its usage and the potential harms that accompany it. It could have been legalized for everyone, but treated like Sudafed, where abuse is documented and certain people aren't allowed to continue buying it after they've had documented problems. These points could have really helped Pro's case because then Pro is actively addressing abuse in status quo. Without that, it just looks like he's exacerbating every problem. That's fine, but you have to be prepared with reasons why you're just implementing a broad legalization scheme, and that requires some libertarian and government-based contentions, none of which appeared here. So either present a case, or be prepared to defend why you're not specifying anything.

OV2) The framework debate is literally all on Con's side of the flow, as well as the weighing analysis. This is really important because it means that the sole values that matter and the sole weighing mechanisms I'm given to assess them exist on one side of the debate, which is never good for the other side. Unless Con is giving me just ridiculous reasons to support these values, I'm going to treat his words as gospel for the debate. That's a big problem for Pro when so many of his arguments aren't directly linked to humanitarian welfare, and it ends up hamstringing Pro's case and its impacts.

Alright, with that out of the way, onto arguments. I'm going to group these under new, comprehensive headings, since the discussion on many of these issues came from different contentions from both sides, and since the headings provided in the debate were sometimes confusing.

1) Marijuana: Harmful or Beneficial?

Pro's initial contention doesn't actually match the title. The word is "treat" not "cure," since none of Pro's examples actually present evidence of a cure. Even when Pro runs with many of these points later, he presents solely arguments about short term treatments, which is important because a cure is very different from a treatment. A cure is absolute: if you cure someone's cancer, they're not in remission, it's gone. A treatment may be partial and temporary, and while these can still be plenty good, they never meet the standard of a cure. If I treat someone's cancer, even very effectively, they'll always be in remission with the chance of it returning.

In any case, the point is made that medical marijuana functions as a treatment sorts, affecting glaucoma, epileptic seizures, Dravet's syndrome, cancers, and anxiety. He also mentions that a marijuana smoker may be doing so with the opportunity cost of smoking tobacco, meaning that any health harms need to be compared between the two.

There are several problems with these points, and Con exploits at least 2 of them.

The first of these is a challenge to the mentality that marijuana only has health harms, and thus those are the only things up for comparison. Con examines this from multiple angles, spending a lot of time on his case explaining the numerous health harms caused by marijuana. Admittedly, he's not exhaustively responsive to Pro's examples, but he doesn't have to be since he's chiefly latching onto the major health risk: cancer. He examines how marijuana usage increases incidence of this particular health harm, going into quite a bit more detail than Pro on how marijuana increases that risk.

Pro really doesn't take the time to explain why his Business Insider article, the only support he provides for this claim, is a more reasonable source or provide warrants that back it up. When Con gets to this point, he references major medical research sources, often going to experts in each field for explanations relating to the relative harms and benefits, even going so far as to quote an expert on glaucoma stating that taking the drug is far more detrimental than beneficial. Pro latches onto the potential benefit, but continually ignores the harms Con poses, which seem very probable since the only examples I get of how marijuana legalization played out are all bad. I don't think it really matters how a specific governor saw legalization impacting his state, but the numbers matter quite a bit, and Pro is basically unresponsive to them.

Worse yet, Con states quite well that the increasing potency of the drug is leading to even more substantial harms, and that legalization increases usage. That means that not only are more people going to be prone to the harms he's suggesting, but the harms are only going to get worse from here on out if we legalize marijuana. That's a problem, and one Pro never addresses.

The only other point Pro had here was an assertion that marijuana is not lethal, but, as Con points out, this is factually incorrect. Perhaps Pro meant that marijuana overdose is impossible, which is true, but that doesn't mean that the health harms caused by marijuana, and the mental changes associated with it, don't cause death. Cancer, last I checked, does cause people to die, so marijuana does have a death toll.

As for the tobacco opportunity cost argument, Con addressed this early. He stated that one doesn't come at the cost of the other, and that in fact many individuals who smoke marijuana will move on to cigarettes, making marijuana a gateway drug to the same harms that Pro states are the absolute worst. This actually functions as a turn on this point " if marijuana is increasing tobacco usage, then marijuana is increasing the harms of tobacco.

The second attack Con makes is against the basic idea that all we should care about is whether it helps the person who's using the drug. Con states time and time again that there's a substantial harm to second hand smoke, which means other people are affected by the individuals smoking marijuana. This is really important, because it's the only health harm I see that goes beyond the individuals themselves. I think Con could have spent more time explaining why that's consequential (governments have a duty to protect the health of their citizens when it's threatened by the actions of others), but the point is still important, since it encompasses an unknown but significant portion of society.

2) Economics of Marijuana Usage

Pro argues that there's a large amount of money and jobs that can result from legalizing marijuana. I don't feel like Pro is doing much to support this, or examine why all of that money/jobs matter. It might seem intuitive, but when you're comparing to health and lives from other impacts, it's risky to leave this without a terminalized, comparable impact.

Not that it's without its strengths. Con concedes the point, instead seeking to outweigh it. He takes 2 routes to do this, starting by pointing to medical expenses and the costs of drug abuse. These numbers seem a little hyped to me, especially considering that they aren't specific to marijuana, but Pro never gives me that response, so the much larger numbers that Con presents flow through.
whiteflame
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12/10/2015 12:07:20 AM
Posted: 12 months ago
3) Environmental Implications

Pro essentially tells me that water and electricity are wasted in status quo because marijuana is illegal, and that incorrect means of growth cause toxins to accumulate. The problem is that I don't get a convincing story. I can see where he was probably going with it:

1. Marijuana growers have to grow their product indoors, and it's often grown independently.
2. As a consequence, these growers don't have the benefits of rainfall or mass watering strategies that reduce consumption
3. Many also have to use lamps and electric systems to provide the necessary access to light for photosynthesis, leading to heavy electric usage.
4. The result of all this is a heavy burden on electricity and water usage, which could be alleviated if marijuana was grown in the field just like any other crop.
5. Further, if marijuana is grown in the field, experts will be placed on the task of ensuring that it's grown according to reasonable standards (because companies do their damnedest to prevent themselves distributing tainted product), research conferences will be held to improve them, and toxins will become a lesser issue.

All of these pieces are important to the story, as is an assessment of why the harms in status quo matter. Why should I care that we're wasting electricity? Aren't I doing that right now on my laptop? Why do water resources matter, particularly in places that are undergoing drought? What are the toxins doing to marijuana smokers, growers and distributors? I need all of this, and I'm not getting any piece of the puzzle here. Pro's just asserting that things will happen the way he claims, and not explaining the how or the why it matters sufficiently.

And Con capitalizes on it. He tells me that there's no clear or potent significance, which I buy. He tells me that expanding production won't reduce any of these problems, which I also buy. Without a clear story from Pro, Con is allowed to fill in the gaps, and turn this point against him.

4) Marijuana and Moral Values

This is another case of the title not really matching the argument. Essentially, this is just an argument with regards to which impacts should be weighed more, and it just feels superfluous. Morality doesn't value anything " morality is the system by which we determine what we value. So the statement that "Morality, however, values humanity inexplicably and irrefutably above the economy" seems like nonsense to me. Selecting a moral system would have made this argument more sensible. Utility might value it that way, for example. But I don't think you even need to give this argument. We all understand that human lives come first. If you want to reenforce the point, then just state it. Don't make it a contention, since that doesn't do anything for your argument.

The rest of this contention is just pre-rebuttal against Pro's first contention, and while I buy it, it doesn't belong here. It would have been fine to wait until R3 to present this, or to place it at the bottom of your first contention to show that the harm doesn't have any benefit to weigh against.

Conclusion:

I'm voting Con mainly on the basis that he's winning that the health harm dramatically outweighs any potential benefit. It's the biggest impact in the round, as weighed and valued by him, and Con makes a point to harp on it throughout the debate. Pro's responses are mainly cross-applications of a case that's already pretty heavily defeated by the third round, as it mainly consists of unwarranted, unsourced assertions that are heavily questioend and often turned against him. I realize that you had little time to write out your posts, but you have to take more time than this. Half of R3 and R5 consisted of quoting Con, and the rebuttals didn't include a single source and very few warrants. That leaves me with little choice but to pick Con up on this debate.
ColeTrain
Posts: 4,292
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12/10/2015 12:31:28 AM
Posted: 12 months ago
At 12/10/2015 12:06:55 AM, whiteflame wrote:

Thanks, Whiteflame! Really appreciate the very in-depth analysis. :)
"The right to 360 noscope noobs shall not be infringed!!!" -- tajshar2k
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whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
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12/10/2015 2:08:54 AM
Posted: 12 months ago
At 12/10/2015 12:31:28 AM, ColeTrain wrote:
At 12/10/2015 12:06:55 AM, whiteflame wrote:

Thanks, Whiteflame! Really appreciate the very in-depth analysis. :)

No problem. Returning the favor ;)
ColeTrain
Posts: 4,292
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12/10/2015 3:27:33 AM
Posted: 12 months ago
At 12/10/2015 2:08:54 AM, whiteflame wrote:
At 12/10/2015 12:31:28 AM, ColeTrain wrote:
At 12/10/2015 12:06:55 AM, whiteflame wrote:

Thanks, Whiteflame! Really appreciate the very in-depth analysis. :)

No problem. Returning the favor ;)

Haha! :)
"The right to 360 noscope noobs shall not be infringed!!!" -- tajshar2k
"So, to start off, I've never committed suicide." -- Vaarka
"I eat glue." -- brontoraptor
"I mean, at this rate, I'd argue for a ham sandwich presidency." -- ResponsiblyIrresponsible
"Overthrow Assad, heil jihad." -- 16kadams when trolling in hangout
"Hillary Clinton is not my favorite person ... and her campaign is as inspiring as a bowl of cottage cheese." -- YYW