The Instigator
Pro (for)
9 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Should marijuana be legal?

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,733 times Debate No: 28818
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)




This is my first debate on here! Please respectful comments and responses. Try to provide sources to back up statements. I Will be arguing that all forms of marijuana should be legal. Sources please!

Round 1: Acceptance of debate as a contender and will adhere to fair and good conduct.

Round 2: Opening statements

Round 3: Counter arguments and new arguments

Round 4: Counter arguments only

Round 5: Closing system statements.


I accept!

Before we get into our arguments, I'm going to first assume that the marijuana in question is being used for recreational purposes. I'm also going to assume that we're dealing with the generic, first world country and not a specific jurisdiction. Because marijuana is not legal in most first world countries and my opponent is proposing a change in the status quo, burden of proof should be on him to show why the resolution should stand.

I also have a few questions concerning the definition of legalization that I'd like my opponent to answer in the following round -

To what extent are advertisements for marijuana allowed?
To what extent are packaging warnings for marijuana required?
Is there going to be an age requirement for smoking marijuana? If so, what would it be?
Will there be any situation where using marijuana is illegal (smoking and driving, smoking in the presence of children)? How will this be enforced?
Will there be controls on the amount of THC allowed within marijuana?
When you say "all forms of marijuana", does this include it's derivatives (hash, hash oil, etc)?

That's all. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you to my opponent for accepting my debate. All of your assumptions are correct. Sorry for not clerifying them. I have previously stated that I am for the legalization of all forms of marijuana, including hash and hash oil. As far as clerification goes on your questions, I believe that marijuana should follow the same rules of advertising as nicotine related products (i.e cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc.) Also, like nicotine and alcohol, I believe marijuana should have a warning from the surgeon general about any health risks related to marijuana use. I will answer the rest of the questions in my following argument. Note that unless specified, these are studies conducted in the USA

1) Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or nicotine, both of which are legal.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 400,000 people succumb anually from tobacco related products. The Center for Disease Control reports that 43.8 million people use Tobacco related products on a regular basis. For every one smoking related death, there will be twenty people who will suffer from a smoking related disease. There are 37 cancer causing chemicals in a pack of cigarettes. Some other chemicals include acetone (finger nail polish remover) and ammonia. Also, there are about 100,000 alcohol related deaths each year. In 2010, 31% of all car related deaths in the United States were drunk driving accidents, which in numbers is around 10,000 people. However, there is no conclusive evidence that proves that an overdose on THC, the common chemical in marijuana, is fatal. The only cases ruled "death by THC overdose" are highly controversial and debated (in reference to your earlier question, since THC levels are not correlated to death, I believe that the THC levels should not be regulated, but rather displayed on the label)

2) Prohibition did not work for alcohol, nor is it working for marijuana

In 1919, under the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, the sale, distribution, and distilation of alcohol was prohibitted. The belief was that if something was illegal, it would disappear over time, and alcohol would not be a factor in the lives of many. However, the converse happened. Alcohol sales skyrocketed, alcohol related crime also went up, and the incarceration rate across the country also increased. The dependence of many on alcohol led to a black market for spirits and booze. The complete failure of Prohibition led to its own repeal shortly after it was enacted. The same principles can be applied to marijuana today. The "War on Drugs" cost the American taxpayer over $1 Trillion since Nixon enacted it. According to CNN, a half a million of the 2.8 million prisoners incarcerated in American prisons are in for non violent drug charges. Instead of watching these men and women contribute to society, they get to experience prison life as an alternative. Marijuana consumption has increased drastically since the 1990's, and according to a University of Michigan study, almost 85% of high school seniors would say that marijuana is either "easy" or "very easy" to obtain.

3) The government should not decide whether or not a person should smoke marijuana or not. It is an individual choice

Even though marijuana is expensive and illegal, there are still many people who smoke it. According to a recent survey, about 83 million people in the US twelve or over have experimented with some form of marijuana. As stated earlier, marijuana use has increased over the years. Most people who use marijuana don't care about the legality, since millions of Americans use it each year. As a personal experience, I have never even seen marijuana in my life, and I am a high school student. It has in no way affected me, and if someone decides to smoke in the privacy of their own homes, then I am not bothered in the least. In addition, I believe that there should be "No smoking zones" for marijuana, similar to cigarettes. I am not against the use of it in public as long as the establishment (i.e bar, restaurants, etc.) will allow it. However, smoking and driving should be prohibitted.

Let me know if any of the sources can't open.




Thanks pro. All of your sources open for me.

I’d like to open my arguments by pointing out that the government has a vested interest in the well being of its people, and this means occasionally restricting the freedom of its citizens. My opponent’s belief that marijuana should have a minimum age requirement is an example of one such limit. In order to decide whether a limit is reasonable or not, I would like to turn to the Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for guidance, which states that rights are subjects to limits that are “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. Even though the onus is on my opponent to prove why cannabis should be legalized, I will attempt to show in my arguments that the banning of marijuana is a reasonable limit to our rights and freedoms.

Marijuana is Harmful –

Obviously, this is a very controversial area and many sources hold bias and contradicting opinions. When presented with conflicting information, I wish to simply put it to the voters to decide which side’s sources are more reliable (However half of my opponent’s sources on this subject do not open! Hopefully that’ll be fixed in a later round).

Anyhow, here is a list of ways marijuana is harmful health-wise –

    • Recreational cannabis is proven to cause developmental delay in youth under 18 – leading in IRREVERSIBLE damage to intelligence, attention, and memory. Additionally, 1 in 10 underage users develop schizophrenia over 11 years of usage [1]. This information is relevant because I believe legalizing marijuana will increase usage in underage youth.
    • Although many sources suggest that marijuana is less physically addicting than alcohol or tobacco, surveys done on marijuana users seem to imply that there is a large psychological factor in marijuana addiction. Studies show that 1 in 10 people who EVER try cannabis will become dependent at some point. For those who’ve used cannabis multiple times the chances increase to about 1 in 3 [2].
    • Usage results in impairment, sluggishness, and decreased motivation.
    • Marijuana use has also been associated with lung damage, anxiety, depression, short term memory loss and brain impairment, and a weakened immune system. There are an increased chance of birth complications and defects as well [3].
    • Studies suggest that cannabis is a gateway drug and the high leads to usage of harder drugs [4].
    • Marijuana also passes these negative health impacts around through second hand smoke [3].

Legalization Results in Increased Usage –

Legalization undermines all the effort placed into warning children not to get involved with drugs, and without the threat of legal repercussions + easier accessibility, usage rates will go up. This has historically proven true with teen marijuana use in Alaska skyrocketing to TWICE the national average after legalizing pot. Usage rates in the Netherlands also went up nearly 30% in the Netherlands. Finally, the drop in marijuana usage after several US states recriminalized marijuana averaged 57% [5].

Legalization Results in Increased Marijuana Related Arrests –

Despite being legal, in 2009 alcohol related arrests for impaired driving, selling to minors and bootlegging totaled nearly 2 million [6]. In comparison, my opponent’s own sources state that marijuana related arrests peaked in the 800 000s. If the sources my opponent posits about marijuana usage rates and the projected increase after legalization is true, these figures suggest that any savings made will be offset by the increased enforcement spent on regulation of marijuana after legalization.

Legalization Causes Gangs/Drug Dealers to Simply Move to a More Harmful Market –

It is every bit as naïve to believe that legalizing marijuana will eliminate gangs as it is to believe that prohibition will stop alcohol from circulating. If pro is operating under the assumption that gang members will simply disband, get an education, and become contributing members of society after legalization, he is mistaken.

First and foremost, it’s a fallacy to assume that gangs are formed because of a large demand for any particular drug. In other words, I doubt that most gangsters or dealers are in the trade because its profitable (many dealers are actually quite poor). Additionally, what my opponent has to realize is that very few members of the drug trade are actually directly involved in the cultivation of marijuana and are directly affected by this change; over 90% of the gang members involved in the business are actually distributors and pushers. The majority of the gang population will not be equipped to handle a drastic change to their lifestyle, they can only move to a different market, such as pushing harder drugs. Because of this, my opponent’s projected savings on enforcement are flawed.

The underground marijuana market won’t disband either as long as it’s regulated in any way; 51% of the market for drugs is youth under 18, so drug pushers and organizations will simply sell cannabis to minors [7]. On top of that, you also have to consider bootleggers who try to evade taxes by selling contraband goods, such as the bootlegging you see with cigarettes today [8]. With these two factors in mind, it’s likely that the police enforcement and the jail population will actually go up and not decrease after legalization.

Other financial ramifications –

Marijuana users are liabilities in the workforce. Users show a 75% increase in absenteeism and are also 5 times more likely to cause workplace related injuries to themselves and to others [9]. Firing them would simply result in shelling out welfare for users, a further strain on the economy. The increased mental health problems that result from marijuana use also burden countries with public healthcare.

Final Notes –

I have a few more observations to make before concluding the debate –

    • Not legalizing marijuana does not equal the WOD. Numerous countries like England and Wales have instigated effective drug policies that don't cost exorbitant amounts of money yet have led to a drop in marijuana use [10].
    • When the US senate recently moved to ban smoking, the tobacco industry easily dropped tens of millions of dollars in advertisements into preventing the ban. If the marijuana industry starts up, it’s easy to foresee a similar situation where banning cannabis would be nigh impossible. Do we really need another tobacco industry (a drug industry famous for its deep-seated political lobbying and corruption)?

In summation, cannabis is a harmful substance that can cause irreversible damage on brain development. Legalizing marijuana is clearly correlated with increased usage, especially teen usage. On top of that, any foreseeable financial gains would be offset by the increased need for regulating the product, increased enforcement + prison space for impaired driving, and decreased work efficiency. Because of the reasons I have stated and the reasons I will state, the government is justified in limiting our right to use recreational marijuana and this resolution must and will fall.

I hand the podium back to my opponent.

Sources -

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank my opponent for their response. I opened my sources just fine. If you can tell me which ones are not opening I will be more than happy to fix them. Also, your source is just a blank page with no information on it. Did you only use this one website? If so, I would like to see a more diverse set of sources if you could. It will add, at least in my opinion, to the credibility of your argument.

In response to the harmful aspects of marijuana presented in your argument, I will like to say that I agree with the fact that each website usually has a bias, and there are many different statistics regarding health effects of marijuana use. However, despite me not being able to identify whatever sources you have used, I will argue again for personal choice. Out of the millions worldwide that use nicotine related products, I doubt that there isn't any person who does not understand the health risks of smoking. For example, if I was a cigarette smoker and I constantly smoked around my child, they would have an increased risk of developing secondhand smoking related illnesses or conditions. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are 45 million smokers of adult age in the United States. 126 million Americans each year are exposed to secondhand smoke, 22 million of which are children 3-11 years of age. Yet again, nicotine is perfectly legal. Extended exposure causes heart and lung complications, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in some cases. Also according to the CDC, nicotine is the number one addicting chemical in the United States, with the same addictive power as Heroin and Cocain.

As far as prenatal effects of marijuana on fetuses, alcohol also has some pretty drastic effects. According to a study done by Doctors Joseph L. Jacobson and Sandra W. Jacobson, drinking during pregnancy can cause the child to have elevated risks of developing retardation, deformities, etc.

Also, in response to the regulation after legalization, I would like to disagree with my opponent in regards to the costs offsetting the money made after legalization. I do not see sufficient or substancial evidence proving this. I acknowledge the logic behind marijuana impairing driving which could lead to more arrests, however, if there is no smell in the car or on the breath of the suspect, a police officer does not have the right in the US to search the car for marijuana, since the suspect has not done anything to prompt a search. There will be no way to immediately prove that the person has THC in their system unless a drug test is taken. However, a drug test on the spot is extremely unlikely, since the best way to test is with a urine sample. My point is that it will be less obvious to tell a person is impaired by THC in comparisson to alcohol, since driving intoxicated has tell tale signs such as driving too fast/slow, swerving excessively, etc.

I also disagree from a logical standpoint about the increase in crime. Gangs will obviously not be displaced by legalization, however the money freed up from anti-marijuana programs can help fund anti-gang programs instead. Instead of having police scan the streets for marijuana, police assets and man power could be focused towards gangs. I again will acknowledge the fact that bootlegging would be an issue, however, it is preferable to having people thrown into jail for possession of marijuana. The CDC also reports that 80% of smokers of nicotine start when they are a minor and continue into adulthood. Minors violate the law to obtain cigarettes and alcohol, and obviously the same will happen (and does happen) for marijuana. This is an indication that the laws are not working, and the money spent trying to uphold them is money well wasted. In America, minors openly smoke on the streets, and cops don't make them stop. They have bigger things to worry about. Perhaps the same will be done for marijuana.

One final refutation pertains to workplace performance. Alcohol was banned for a similar reason during Prohibition. Although workplace perfromance did increase, there is a reason why Prohibtion ended. The cons outweighed the pros, and Prohibition was ended as a result.

I eagerly await my opponent's response. Thank you for the intelligent response for this round.

Again, to my opponent and to anyone spectating, infom me if certain links are unable to open



Unfortunately, due to time constraints I will not be able to finish this round. I apologize.

All I'm going to do is post the sources from the previous round. Sorry for the broken link.
I'm also going to apologize for falsely accusing my opponent of having broken links - my mistake. I took my argument from another debate and used it here without thoroughly tailoring it to my opponent's argument.

Once again, sorry.
Debate Round No. 3


I am glad my links are all right. I will not post anything in this round of the debate, and I will let my opponent prepare a round.


Thanks Pro.

Because I’ve unfortunately caused a round to be missed, I’ll just start summarizing the major points in the debate.


Throughout his arguments, my opponent seems to imply that Tobacco and Alcohol are legal because the government does not deem it harmful enough to be considered an offence, and this is the reason why these products are legal. However, no evidence has been presented in favour of this. I would argue that the reason why the government allows tobacco and alcohol to be legal is instead because the substances are too ingrained in our history to be pragmatically outlawed (as evidenced by the way the Tobacco industry spends millions of dollars battling against anti smoking campaigns). Unless my opponent proves otherwise, the health effects of tobacco and alcohol should not be used as a standard for what should be made legal.

I would argue that it is reasonable to ban cannabis because it is harmful and not a deep part of our history, therefore, laws made against the substance can is enforceable (as evidenced by declining usage rates in countries that have implemented anti-marijuana policies successfully). This is why marijuana is illegal, and alcohol and tobacco are not.


I’m sorry for the misleading terminology; I’ve been referencing my other debate where my opponent referred to drug dealers as “gangs”. The point I was trying to make is that it is unrealistic and my opponent has given us no good reason to believe that marijuana dealers and pushers would simply stop participating in illegal trading after cannabis is legalized. As I have stated before, 90% of the people involved in the drug trade are not actually involved in cultivating marijuana. Because cultivators now don’t need pushers because weed is legal, the remaining 90% of criminals involved in the marijuana trade now are left unemployed, and I would argue that it is more realistic to assume that these people will simply make up for the lost income by committing other crimes or pushing other drugs than to assume that they will, as my opponent suggests, simply get educated and become contributing members of society. My opponent says that this is not logical but does not substantiate his claim with a source. Therefore, I’ll leave it up to the voters to decide which situation is more realistic.

However, if the voters see my proposed situation as more realistic, it necessarily follows that money will not be “freed-up” from anti-marijuana programs. The little money that is freed up will be spent on enforcing DUI arrests (which my opponent agrees will increase after legalization), and dealing with an increase in cocaine, meth, and other drug dealers.

Another reason which money will in fact be lost by legalizing marijuana is the decreased work efficiency, which my opponent concedes as well!

Finally, my opponent argues that marijuana should be made available to minors. I have already shown in my previous rounds that marijuana causes a dramatic decrease in memory, intelligence, and capacity when used by minors, and this is backed up by studies. Additionally, 1 in 10 underage cannabis users end up developing a mental defect such as schizophrenia [1]. As my opponent seems to concede that legalization will result in increased usage, the money gained from cannabis taxation will be offset by the influx of citizens dependent on public hospitals and mental support.


I feel like I offer a very logical/straightforward argument –

- Marijuana is harmful, especially for minors (backed by studies and statistics)
- Legalizing marijuana will result in increased usage, especially increased teen usage (conceded by my opponent)
- Legalizing marijuana means that people involved in the marijuana trade will probably be forced to deal other drugs
- Legalizing marijuana also results in bootlegging and decreased work efficiency (also conceded by my opponent)
- The increased teen usage results in mental impairment and decreased intelligence and means that more people will become reliant on our countries public healthcare, further offsetting any money gained through legalization.

Because legalizing marijuana will not provide returns and results in a generation of sick, mentally impaired, and unproductive workers, the government is justified in keeping the substance illegal.

Back to Pro.


Debate Round No. 4


I would like to thank my opponent for a well spoken debate. I will offer some counter arguments since the fourth round was omitted for me. To keep this fair, I offer my opponent to do the same if he wishes.

I would like to shed some background on the history of marijuana in the United States in order to refute the claim by my opponent that nicotine and alcohol are too deeply rooted in our society to be outlawed, and that they are not legal due to not being as harmful. Marijuana has been grown on plantations since the days of George Washington for industrial purposes. Around the 1850's, marijuana in the form of hashsh was smoked for recreational purposes. It was not outlawed until the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It has remained illegal since.However, smoking has been in our society even after it's illegality. It has been smoked all throughtout the 20th and 21st Centuries. The 1960s and 1970s hippie culture saw a boom in the use of recreational marijuana use. In some ways, it has defined a demographic of a past generation of people. To say it isn't deeply rooted in our society is, in my opinion, simply not true. Despite its legal status, marijuana has continued to influence thousands of people. Furthermore, my statistics from the CDC are federal statistics, since the CDC is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The government has openly accepted the potential harm in nicotine and alcohol, which is displayed by their findings through the CDC. So I do not see how I am implying that the government keeps these substences legal due to not recognizing the harm in them. If this was not clear, I do apologize to my opponent and those reading this debate.

Also, I will also like to clear up the "90%" of the dealers who would still be involved in illegal operations. The majority of the criminals, as said before, are simply those charged with possession, not dealers. Also, according to a study on Trends in Drugs, Marijuana is the most common illegal drug used. My opponent is stating that marijuana dealers will switch to harmful markets like cocaine, meth, etc. While this may not be entirely untrue, the percentage of cocaine users, for example, is much smaller than the percentage of marijuana users. The market for cocaine and meth are much smaller than the market for marijuana. If marijuana were legalized, it would not mean the cocaine market would boom and suck up the money saved from the elimination of the man power being aimed towards marijuana.

In addition, I have done more research on productivity during Prohibition. According to a Cato Institute Policy Analysis, advancements in productivty, although they did exist, were picayune and in some area, so small that they are immeasurable.

As stated above, I believe marijuana should be legal. With historical examples, findings from federal and private studies, and expert opinions, and personal logic, I feel that I have provided substancial evidence supporting my position. Because marijuana is not more dangerous than nicotine or alcohol, the prohibition of marijuana has cost the public money and time, and because the individual choice should prevail over a nanny state, I believe the recreational use of marijuana should be legal. I would like to thank my opponent for an outstanding display of intellect and a fine debating session.



Thanks pro, once again. It's been a very engaging debate.


My opponent tries to prove that alcohol and tobacco are legal because they're not deemed harmful by society and not because they're too deeply rooted in our history to prohibit properly by pointing out that marijuana has it's roots in society as well - this is obviously a non-sequitur refutation. Nontheless I will point out that according to my opponent, using marijuana for recreational purposes began in the 1850s. In comparison, common recreational use of tobacco and alcohol goes all the way back to the 1600s and 10 000 BC respectively. Additionally, while illegal usage of cannabis could be considered common, I have shown that with proper policies in place, usage will decline - which shows that the marijuana culture is not nearly well ingrained enough to compete with the alcohol culture, as during prohibition alcohol usage actually increased. My opponent also claims he has statistics from the CDC that suggest otherwise, but fails to state these statistics - for these reasons, these unsubstantiated assertions should be disregarded.

As my opponent fails to properly refute this argument, we should not hold alcohol and cigarettes as the standard of health risk deemed acceptable by society.


My opponent talks about how even though drug dealers will market different illegal substances after marijuana is legalized, there will be no increased demand for these substances and therefore the number of criminal arrests will go down. While I do agree with this to a certain extent, I also believe that a large deal of demand for illegal substances stems from drug pushers who target and coerce their market into buying drugs. My opponent has also failed to refute several other points about how returns will be offset which I am going to list below.

My opponent tries to address the ineivitable decreased work productivity and absenteeism that marijuana causes by giving statistics from the prohibition of alcohol. Again, it's non-sequitur to say that the trends for legalizing one substance is the same for all substances and I have already provided citations to back up my claim.

My opponent also concedes that there will be increased DUI arrests and bootlegging after the legalization of marijuana.

My opponent also does not address the idea that dependence on government support and public hospitals will increased due to the increased amount of mentally impaired citizens, as my opponent wants to legalize marijuana for minors, concedes that after legalization marijuana usage will go up, and does not address how it causes memory damage and 1 in 10 underage users develop schizophrenia.


Because legalizing marijuana will not provide returns and results in a generation of sick, mentally impaired, and unproductive workers, the government is justified in keeping the substance illegal.

Thanks for the debate.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Aned 5 years ago
Marijuana does not get people drugged, people get drugged on their own.
Posted by OneElephant 5 years ago
My bad - the link broke. Here are my sources.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Another boring "should weed be legal" debate. Neither side was more convincing than the other. Both had good conduct revolving Con's lack of time and excuse from a round. I would give sources to Pro because Con had a dud link but they were so polite about it and neither seemed to care so I won't bother dishing out points for it. Erm... yea, nobody gets points. I find it interesting that Pro has 9 points but Con has none. I guess it's the pothead bias around here.
Vote Placed by Jarhyn 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct to PRO, as CON both copy/pasted his initial argument and because CON's dropped round. PRO went above and beyond in allowing the shortening of the debate. Convincing to PRO, as he argued the parallel between marijuana prohibition and alcohol prohibition. CON made unconvincing RED HERRING arguments as to the instance of use increasing, and in his argument on the health effects upon minors; PRO had already stated he was arguing for legalization for adults, not for children. Finally, CON's arguments against the legalization of marijuana based on crime are unconvincing as that there is no way that there would be as much or more ACTUAL criminal activity after legalization; further, intoxicated driving under alcohol is likely; it impairs ability to tell when one is drunk and stupid. Marijuana on the other hand does not have that effect. Finally sources to PRO as CON's first link was dead, and his second only supported an argument which was a straw-man or red herring.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct was exemplary for both debaters; it's a shame I can't vote for both in that regard. I did not notice any glaring spelling or grammar errors, either. In regards to the arguments, Con used the "harmful" angle. Unfortuntely, a drug being harmful is not a good justification for making it illegal, thought it is commonly done nonetheless. It could even be argued that it's better to not ban a harmful substance. In regards to sources, Pro has a plethora of them, while con seemingly only has one; however, clicking the link reveals a large list of sources, so in my opinion they tied on sources. Pro wins solely on the weakness of Con's argument.