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That marijuana should be legal

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Bi0HazardBi0Hazard (PRO)
In this debate, I am going to argue that marijuana should be legal. 


Marijuana- cannabis, especially as smoked in cigarettes.
Legal- permitted by law.
I am going to argue about legalizing cannabis in any of its consumed forms. 
Forms of cannabis are:
1. Smoking
2. Vaporizer
3. Cannabis Tea
4. Edibles

1. Marijuana should be legal because it would boost revenue by taxing it.
2. Marijuana should be legal because it would bring more effective criminal justice and law enforcement.
3. Marijuana should be legal because it would bring medical benefits to those with health conditions.
4. Marijuana should be legal because it would cause illegal drug dealers to lose their business.  

My plan

The idea I am supporting in this debate is similar to how it is here where I live.
1. Marijuana is illegal for anyone under 21 years of age.
2. It is illegal to possess more than one ounce of marijuana.
3. Marijuana use in public and federal lands is illegal.
4. Driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal.

Marijuana should be legal because it would boost revenue by taxing it.

Legalizing marijuana and taxing would bring much revenue to fund government programs and public projects. Since marijuana has already been legalized in different states, we can use them as an example.
The tax revenue generated from marijuana tax can be used for good purposes like combat homelessness or fund public projects. A city in Colorado is using marijuana tax revenue to combat homelessness. Learn about it here: http://www.vox.com/2016/5/21/11721688/marijuana-legalization-homelessness
Legalizing and taxing marijuana would bring an increase in tax revenue that can be used to benefit us. I am not going to argue about the benefits of tax revenue since my opponent already knows how important it is to fund infrastructure. More revenue means more money to fund benefits we need.

Marijuana should be legal because it would bring more effective criminal justice and law enforcement.

Legalizing marijuana would allow police officers to have more time and money to go after other criminals such as violent ones. Also, it would reduce the amount of people in jail, it would benefit blacks a lot, since they are arrested more often than whites due to racism.

The total number of arrests in the U.S. in 2014 for marijuana law violations is 700,993*1. 88 percent(619,809) of the arrests were for possession only*1. The U.S. had the highest incarceration rate in the world in 2014, with 2,224,400 Americans incarcerated(1 in every 111 adults)*1. So if around 600,000 people are arrested due to possession of marijuana and around 2.2 million incarcerated, then legalizing marijuana would save a lot of people from getting arrested. It would mostly save blacks and Latinos who are incarcerated more than whites even though they have roughly equal use rates.
More information on this here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/06/04/the-blackwhite-marijuana-arrest-gap-in-nine-charts/
 As you can see, blacks are arrested much more often than whites for marijuana use even though they have similar rates of use. This is largely due to racism in the U.S. So legalizing marijuana would reduce this racist action as well. 

With less people going to jail for marijuana use, more money and time can be directed towards more violent crimes instead of personal possession of a drug which doesn't harm others.

Marijuana should be legal because it would bring medical benefits to those with health conditions.

Marijuana can be used for medical purposes as well. There are health benefits to smoking marijuana, and it is safer than other already legal medical drugs. 
“We can speculate ourselves into all kinds of fears about abuse, but if that was the case, we wouldn’t allow OxyContin, Vicodin and all other prescription drugs. They’re abused more widely and more lethally than marijuana would ever be. No one has died of an overdose of marijuana that I know of ever. But they’ve died from OxyContin, Vicodin and all these other drugs that are legal.”*2
Marijuana can be used to treat Glaucoma, a chemical found in marijuana prevents cancer from spreading. It can ease pain and is safer than other legal drugs. 
Marijuana makes an effective medical drug, so legalizing it would benefit some people who may need it.

Marijuana should be legal because it would cause illegal drug dealers to lose their business.

Finally, legalizing marijuana would cause illegal drug dealers to lose their business. These illegal sellers may include terrorists. After legalizing marijuana, the prices would go down due to competition in stores. Drug cartels make enormous money because of the high price of illegal drugs. Legalizing marijuana would cause these drug cartels to lose much of their business. Drug cartels would make less for funding criminal activity. It would be a form of punishment to those who illegally sell drugs. 
“Is it hurting the cartels? Yes. The cartels are criminal organizations that were making as much as 35-40 percent of their income from marijuana,” Nelson said, “They aren’t able to move as much cannabis inside the US now.”*3
"In 2012, a study by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute found that US state legalization would cut into cartel business and take over about 30 percent of their market."*3
Drug cartels oppose legalization and are in favor of the drug war, because they make much profit from it. Legalizing marijuana would bring damage to this illegal market.

People have continued to use Marijuana even though it is illegal.

Even though marijuana has been illegal, people have always still used it. Making it illegal has failed, much money is used to fight the war on drugs but it has never succeeded. Keeping marijuana illegal now is pointless, it can bring many benefits if it is legalized. People still use it even if its illegal. Some get arrested, but most never get caught. 
"According to a 2009 national survey, more than 104 million Americans over the age of 12 had tried marijuana at least once, and almost 17 million had used the drug in the month before the survey."*4
"Despite 70+ years of criminal prohibition, marijuana still remains widely popular among Americans, with over 102 million Americans (41 percent of the U.S. population) having used it during their lifetimes, 26 million (10 percent) having used it in the past year, and over 15 million (6 percent) admitting that they use it regularly. (By contrast, fewer than 15 percent of adults have ever tried cocaine, the second most ‘popular’ illicit drug, and fewer than 2 percent have ever tried heroin — so much for that supposed ‘gateway effect.’)"*5
The war on cannabis has only made things worse for us.
"The government’s war on cannabis and cannabis consumers endangers the health and safety of our children. It enables young people to have unregulated access to marijuana — easier access than they presently have to alcohol. It enables young people to interact and befriend pushers of other illegal, more dangerous drugs."*5
Prohibition has failed. People will find a way to get it, however, alcohol is harder for minors to obtain, even though its legal for adults. 

I have presented four reasons to legalize marijuana. I am looking forward to my opponents case in the following rounds.

Thanks for reading

*1- http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-war-statistics
*2- http://illinoistimes.com/article-11388-physician-claims-prescription-drugs-worse-than-marijuana.html
*3- https://news.vice.com/article/legal-pot-in-the-us-is-crippling-mexican-cartels
*4- http://www.caron.org/understanding-addiction/statistics-outcomes/marijuana-stats
*5- http://www.alternet.org/story/142556/over_100_million_americans_have_smoked_marijuana_--_and_it's_still_illegal

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-05-22 19:30:02
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I thank my opponent for opening their contentions.

The Role of State
I'd like to begin by examining the principle of why we ban anything in the first place. We see states as being a socially constructed agency on this side of the house - naturally therefore, states have an obligation to act in the best interests of human society. Such interactions may be explained through philosophical mumbo-jumbo like social contract theory, through the lens of economic or political analysis, or a number of other frameworks.

In examining society, we find the individual at its core. People are responsible for social functions that allow society to meet its ends like forming a government. To this end we submit the claim that society's interests are best protected when it's people are best served. It logically follows then that the key metric any government need fulfill is a well-served populace, whatever form that may take.

When people might undertake anti-social activities, that's bad for society, and by implication, bad for individuals within that society. A clear example of anti-social behavior would be murder - actually removing people from that society. My contention is the society would be better served should those members not be removed, such that they may contribute to being human. Governments therefore, recognizing that murder is an anti-social activity, make it illegal in most circumstances. Some believe there might be limited prosocial times when murder is justified (ie in self defense) but in general, this is the rule governments tend to follow.

The activity of legislatures, then, is to debate and discuss the relative policy merits of different bright ideas for legislation, in terms of their overall social impact. If, on balance, such an impact is negative, a ban is politically and socially warranted.

Having examined the reasons why things are typically illegal on a principle level, I wanted to address my opponent's points before I dive into my own analysis. While he didn't raise any substantive line about his conception of a "good" government, there are a few key themes I'd like to pick up on.

It should be noted that in general, his arguments could be applied to just about any crime. Take murder. Making murder legal would increase the market for hitmen. These could be taxed, boosting government revenue. Criminal justice & law enforcement would be freed from the difficult task of locating and convicting murderers. It would cause illegal hitmen to lose their business, and so on. On a shallow level it should be immediately and intuitively obvious that this is no standard against which to measure prosocial behaviour.

Boost Revenue
The premise here is that people are going to spend more. In other words, the only way marijuana could boost sales taxes is if people would not otherwise have spent that same disposable income on other things. So while marijuana sales taxes are fairly impressive figures, you have to remember that's all money/income that people are NOT spending on, let's say, their rent or their food, unless pro can somehow justify that now-marijuana smokers used to save up and horde their money. Somehow I doubt this $5.7 billion in revenue is mostly from the vaults of people's life savings - a lot of it is simply a cut of people's wages (like most consumer goods) that otherwise might have been spent on something else.

In reality, it is a bit more complicated. People flood in from outside of the state to buy the product because it is illegal where they are etc. When a state makes marijuana or anything else really legal, there is often a short term rush in the state to buy that thing that used to be illegal. To the denizens of that state, it becomes a relatively attractive proposition for a time, to legally acquire something which for long they could not. This immediate spike, however, does not last. In the longer term, it becomes increasingly normal for such to be legal, and the attractiveness of buying it tends to normalize somewhat. The same is true of any "new" product launch - when it arrives on the market, there is often a flurry of immediate interest just because it's new and humans like new things. As such the figures he mentioned, from states that legalized marijuana fairly recently, are not too relevant. Consider the facts - people once said the same about alcohol and tobacco. Now taxes on both account for only a fraction of the medical bills they create, despite already being really extortionate.

By the way, it's terribly ironic to use marijuana revenues to fight homelessness. Homelessness in that same state exploded after marijuana was legalized, and marijuana is the reason.

By this logic, making crime legal is the most effective solution, since then cops don't have to do anything, can't discriminate, and can go back to eating doughnuts or something. Sure, if we had no speeding laws then cops could focus more on making sure people wear seatbelts, but the problem is this: cars go too fast on the road. If we make murder legal cops could focus more on catching fraud, but people would kill each other. Ultimately laws exist for the protection of society, by society, for society. To this end the entire point is begging the question - if marijuana is bad then nobody would seek to allow it for reasons of effectiveness. If marijuana is good then keeping it illegal is incredibly inefficient and should be legalized immediately. No resolution on this matter may be reached unless one's mind is already made up.

I further agree that especially in the USA, law enforcement is racist. This is a problem not just with marijuana but with all drug crime. My counter model would simply be to stop racism, not to legalize crimes which might be implemented racially. Even if blacks really DID use more marijuana (although my opponent is correct in saying they do not), it is still simply begging the question to attempt to legalize marijuana on those grounds.

As for this whole thing about incarceration, no, legalization has almost no effect on incarceration rates. In fact very few people are really in prison solely for marijuana if you read the records carefully (in fact the previous maximum penalty in Colorado for marijuana possession was only a $100 fine for up to 60 joints), and legalizing marijuana increases the size of the black market sufficiently to offset any major positive impact in drug-related incarcerations.

People keep using it anyway
So? People keep doing heaps of stuff anyway. Is anyone really dissuaded by jaywalking legislation? Probably not. BUT it's still a useful rule to have in order to keep our roads safe! People keep murdering anyway but we still want to catch murderers for the social harms they cause. People still commit fraud yet isn't it great we have laws against it? The same is true of ANY criminal law.

As an aside, isn't it funny how pro's first source here claims "so much for that gateway effect", and the second one literally is saying that marijuana is bad for kids because it has a gateway effect? More on that later. The real facts are clear. Adolescents routinely consider alcohol easier to obtain than marijuana under the status quo. This translates into usage patterns - only 30% of kids have used marijuana, compared to 45% for alcohol. And as for anyone who doubts that the war on drugs is working, the trends for youth are clear across the board - youth use marginally fewer illegal drugs today than they did even when I was young!

In the long term, the best strategy is prevention, and studies have repeatedly shown that you can prevent kids from trying marijuana. Making it illegal is a viable part of that process. We know for example that making marijuana legal, even for medicinal reasons, increases marijuana abuse by up to 27%. Heck, this was the reason Alaska recriminalized marijuana in the 90s. Use was too damn high.

Undermine Cartels
This is an argument I have never really understood, even on a conceptual level. Why would drug cartels go out of business if you legalize their main source of income? Making drug cartels legal does not put them out of business! If anything it makes them worse. It's never happened whenever marijuana has been legalized. It didn't when it happened in Alaska. It hasn't so far in Colorado or Washington state - worth noting that think tank study my opponent cited hasn't come true at all in reality. It didn't in Europe either - gangs bankrolled by drugs do exist in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Of all the arguments raised for marijuana, this is the least sensible.

As the police chief in Colorado recently said: "There's a common belief that by legalizing it, you will get rid of the black market. I can resoundly say that the black market is alive and doing well."

I think my opponent was trying to imply that legalization creates more competition in the drug market. This fails for two reasons. First in a price war, anyone who doesn't pay tax is going to be cheaper (no need to pay whatever the sales tax is, plus other savings from the cartel not paying company tax etc). You can't both claim that cartels (who do not pay tax) are going to be driven out of business, and also claim that you're raising all this tax revenue. Secondly, cartels have economies of scale that small time marijuana growers in Washington etc can only dream of. On a strictly economic level the argument doesn't work either.

Medical Benefits
By contrast this is the strongest argument for legalization, and the one I hope we get the most clash on.

First it should be noted that the argument does not align to pro's model. Pro is arguing for a complete legalization of marijuana, not a legalization of medicinal marijuana. It is possible to legalize a substance but not approve it for medicinal purposes - McDonalds French fries are perfectly legal but so far as I'm aware, not currently approved for the treatment of any medical condition. Legalizing marijuana then does not inherently solve this problem. Moreover, allowing something for medicinal purposes is quite different from legalizing it for all purposes. For example, morphine is readily available to licensed medical practitioners but not usually legal for recreational use. There are compounding social harms to a full legalization policy, which would not accrue under strict medical supervision. I should add that most countries already do approve cannabinoid medication, but not marijuana. Currently there are 2 FDA-approved THC pills on the US market, for example, which provide exactly the same benefits while having none of the harms of marijuana (called dronabinol and nabilone - as an aside, you can't ban cannabinoids because they occur in small quantities naturally in the human body).

Let us assume that the model were different, however, and marijuana were legalized for medicinal purposes only. This has a number of harms. First, as probably the most common illegal recreational drug, police would have a somewhat harder time determining who is a legitimate user and who is not. Searching medical registers for every single marijuana request further defeats this notion pro brought up of efficiency. Second, providing a gateway to medical fraud opens the floodgates for more scary drugs that can be commonly found in hospitals etc, like opium, to be more easily obtained through medical channels via the marijuana-based infrastructure.

Top scientists and judges have repeatedly ruled that when smoked, marijuana has as many harms as benefits. Cannabinoid drugs, like pure THC, may in some way deliver the benefits pro talked about - that is true. But pro wants to legalize smoked pot, vaped pot, baked pot and drunken pot... he does not want to legalize pills containing therapeutic amounts of pot. While overdoses are prohibitively difficult to achieve with marijuana, there is not at present a lot of data on the safety of these drugs due to a lack of long-term trials. Almost 130,000 people wind up in the emergency room at a hospital each year in the United States alone, directly caused by impaired or psychotic decisions made under the influence of marijuana alone (ie no other drugs - if you include cases where some other random drug was also found in the user's system, the number triples). When you're a medical patient, and you're taking marijuana regularly, with effects that can last for hours, and there's even a small chance you could have complications or go back to the emergency room you're trying to escape from, well, maybe there's something wrong with that.

Finally, young people are impressionable. Studies have found that when medical marijuana is legal, they are more likely to try marijuana recreationally. This is especially true if they see advertising for medicinal marijuana. That's harmful for all the reasons I explain in my case. For all these reasons and more, no reputable medical association currently supports legalization of marijuana.

The Resolution
I want to conclude my analysis by pointing out that the onus is very much on the affirmative in this debate. Marijuana is illegal in most of the world and in most places this shows no sign of changing. That some US states are somewhat changing provides very little momentum for legalization as a whole, when you consider the vast number of jurisdictions where marijuana is still banned. Like previous experiments with legalizing marijuana in the USA, these will no doubt fail and be revoked a decade or two down the line.

My Case
To open this debate I will present my contentions in brief, and let my opponent's counter-arguments guide the discussion. To show that marijuana should be banned, I intend to demonstrate the harms it causes to society.

Drain on public health system
We note that if people are healthier and stay out of hospital more, that's good for society. Unfortunately marijuana smoking is far from safe. Indeed it attacks the respiratory system (ie bronchitis symptoms), circulatory system, and cognitive system all at once. This is particularly pernicious for youth using marijuana. Symptoms are commonly listed as being classified under an increased heart rate, breathing problems, mental health problems, pregnancy complications, impaired cognitive performance, and perhaps controversially, a gateway to other drugs (see the next point). This is not too consider the consequences of particularly the impaired cognitive performance, as for example drug driving is a major cause of vehicle accidents every year. In some cases, marijuana smoke is more carcinogenic than tobacco smoke.

These are avoidable conditions, and that's not even scratching the surface. They cost millions of dollars in funding every year, and take valuable doctor's time, as well as hospital beds, from other deserving patients. Anytime we can make society healthier, that benefits society as a whole. This is all particularly bad because as a fairly normalized drug, marijuana use disorder is extremely common and surprisingly often untreated. The relationship between this and legalization is well documented as well - studies have proven a clear link between the availability of marijuana and the number of marijuana-related hospitalizations.

Whatever the health impacts of marijuana are, youth are hit the worst. Young vulnerable people have the most long-term damage to their bodies and brain function as a result of taking marijuana, as their bodies are still developing and growing.

Economic Productivity
In an economy where people get high, it's fairly hard to get anything done. This is a natural consequence of the impaired reasoning mentioned earlier. As an addictive drug, such economic disempowerment is long-term, and can leave communities impoverished. In the modern knowledge economy, losses to productivity of this form take a really bad hit.

According to the latest research, "Employees who test positive for marijuana had 55 percent more industrial accidents and 85 percent more injuries and they had absenteeism rates 75 percent higher than those that tested negative." That's a really significant strain that offsets any benefits the policy may create.

Gateway Effect
I haven't done this line much in previous debates but I figure it might be a fun one to explore. There's arguments about this, but then there's also hard science. Time and again, researchers have come to the same conclusion - marijuana use increases the risk of other substance use disorders. For example, marijuana use increases your risk of developing alcohol problems by about five times.

Pro conceded there is a gateway effect already. He said that "unregulated access to marijuana ... enables young people to interact and befriend pushers of other illegal, more dangerous drugs". And he's absolutely right. The problem is, we know regulation isn't a qualifier. If it is legal, young people use it more, not less.

This gateway effect is significant and harmful. Why do people take drugs? More often than not, it's peer pressure. Trying to fit in, or to be cool. That kind of narrative is normalized when more and more drugs are normalized. So when people fall in to drug trading circles, "fitting in" might mean trying harder and harder drugs.

After a time, the body can develop some dependence to marijuana also, strengthening the gateway drug effect. As dependence increases, the strength of the "high" cannabis offers decreases also. This leads cannabis addicts to seek other drugs offering greater and greater highs.

I look forward to reading my opponent's rebuttals.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-05-27 14:02:16
| Speak Round
admin: Do you agree that marijuana is a gateway drug?
DHS15608: In this debate, I am arguing that marijuana doesn't have a gateway effect.
admin: So do you believe young people are not impressionable, or do you believe that marijuana doesn't expose them to the drug world?
DHS15608: In this debate, I am arguing that marijuana use doesn't have a gateway to other drugs. People who use marijuana don't necessarily go to heroin.
admin: Is that because they do not get exposed to heroin, or is it because being around heroin users does not convince them to use heroin?
DHS15608: It is mostly because they are not convinced to buy heroin. Some are, but marijuana doesn't cause more people to use heroin.
DHS15608: I will say that many go from marijuana to other drugs sometimes. However, this doesn't happen as often. There is a case that can be made that marijuana being illegal makes a gateway effect.

Return To Top | Speak Round
Bi0HazardBi0Hazard (PRO)
In this round, I will respond to my opponent's arguments.
CON arguments:
1. Marijuana should not be legal because it is unhealthy for society.
2. Marijuana should not be legal because people getting high from it will lead to a decrease in economic productivity.
3. Marijuana should not be legal because it has a gateway effect. 

I will respond to my opponents rebuttal after responding to his case first.

Marijuana should not be legal because it is unhealthy for society.

Marijuana is not a major threat to public health. However, it must be noted that practically all substances consumed by people are potentially dangerous to us if used irresponsibly. Alcohol and many prescription drugs are more dangerous to us and are legal. You can not make all unhealthy substances illegal, choices have to be left to people. What is unhealthy is the government's war on cannabis, not legalizing it. The war on cannabis benefits drug cartels which allows more minors to have access to marijuana. 
The risks from marijuana are minimal compared to other drugs. Studies have shown that marijuana has minimal effects on our body.

Marijuana should not be legal because people getting high from it will lead to a decrease in economic productivity.

Legalizing marijuana would lead to more job creation due to a growing industry. 
This argument fails because there is no evidence of marijuana reducing productivity/motivation.
"In recent laboratory studies, subjects given high doses of marijuana for several weeks exhibited no decrease in work motivation or productivity."*1
Actually, a case can be made for marijuana improving work ethic/productivity.
"In fact, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence supporting the concept of cannabinoids improving an individual’s work ethic and creativity. As we know, there is a strong link between dopamine and the CB-1 and CB-2 cannabinoid receptors of the brain."*1
I won't argue that marijuana improves our work ethic, but I will say it wouldn't decrease economic productivity. 
Marijuana has minimal effect except for maybe young developing minds(which would still be illegal for minors).

Marijuana should not be legal because it has a gateway effect.

My opponent pointed to what he thinks is a contradiction in my sources. These are no contradictions, one says that there is no good evidence for marijuana users all going to other drugs, and the other says the drug war increases the risk of kids getting access to other dangerous drugs. Even when marijuana is illegal, so much less use more dangerous drugs than marijuana. However, the drug war allows more unregulated access due to many drug cartels. More minors will get exposed to other drugs like heroin and cocaine. Many marijuana users use other drugs as well, but most don't. Marijuana doesn't have an inherent gateway effect.  

Response to rebuttals 
1. Boost Revenue rebuttal
2. Effectiveness rebuttal
3. People keep using it anyways rebuttal
4. Undermine Cartels rebuttal 
5. Medical Benefits rebuttal

Boost Revenue rebuttal

My opponent says that taxing marijuana won't truly increase revenue because all the revenue is cuts in peoples wages that could have otherwise been spent on something else. 
The problem with this is that it forgets that many people get marijuana even though it is illegal, if marijuana is legalized, the money spent on marijuana serving the drug cartels would then go to stores and taxed. My opponent also argued against cartels losing business, more on that later. Overall, taxing marijuana has increased revenue, and is one of the many ways to do it.
My opponent also argued that the tax revenue from marijuana is really higher than it will be since its a new legal product. He uses Cigarettes and Alcohol as an example. However, cigarettes still make a lot of revenue from taxation. 
"Leaving aside the fact that more than 20 percent of Americans would be gone (or, more likely, extremely irritable), cigarettes bring in significant revenues for state and federal government.

In Fiscal Year 2010, the federal excise tax on cigarettes (currently $1.01 per pack) brought in $15.5 billion in revenue. That money went to fund an expansion of the federal State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) program, which provides funding to states for health insurance for families that do not qualify for Medicare, but are still considered of modest means."

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/02/28/what-would-an-america-without-smokers-cost/#ixzz4ARmSCjg7

If everyone stopped smoking, it would cost the government a lot of money, and the same applies to marijuana. Marijuana has always been popular and would make good money for the government. If it follows the same path as cigarettes, then marijuana would always make good money from taxing. 

My opponent then says that marijuana causes homelessness. However, he is incorrect. Marijuana isn't causing homelessness, it is attracting people that may have already been homeless.

"Still, she says, when Urban Peak staffers ask why the kids have relocated to Colorado, at least one out of ever three say it’s because weed is legal. So legal pot isn’t making people homeless, but it is drawing people who may already have been homeless to Colorado.

“They were at risk of becoming homeless or were homeless somewhere else,” Easton said. “They would have been smoking marijuana before they came here. They may come here so they are not arrested for possession. It’s just one less thing they have to worry about.”"*2

Effectiveness rebuttal

My opponent says that by my logic, making all crimes legal would solve problems. However, I am placing more importance on catching violent criminals than catching criminals that are a danger to themselves. Making marijuana legal would allow law enforcement to focus more on the violent crimes. This may sound like its begging the question, but I am sure my opponent would agree that violent crime is worse than a crime putting only yourself in danger after accepting the risks. 

My opponent then says that ending racism is how you should deal with the issue, not legalizing marijuana. However, legalizing marijuana would help with racism. 

"Cannabis use is about equal between blacks and whites. Yet, men of color are arrested 4x more often for marijuana possession...

The problem is clear.

American police forces have used the "drug war" to imprison men of color in specifically targeted communities. And it's been happening for decades now."*3

This allows for systematic racism. My opponent says we should just focus on ending Interpersonal racism instead. However, that is really above what we can do since personally hating a race is a choice and can't be stopped. But racist action can be stopped in many ways, and legalizing marijuana is one way. This would benefit blacks largely targeted by law enforcement. 

My opponent says that very few are in prison because of just marijuana use, however, I have already shown that 88 percent of marijuana arrests are for possession only. The majority of people in prison for marijuana possession are not murderous thugs. Many would not get arrested under legal marijuana.

People keep using it anyways rebuttal

My opponent then says it doesn't matter since people use illegal stuff anyways and we need to keep it illegal to keep us safe. However, what is making marijuana possession dangerous is the drug war itself. The best way to keep it away from more people is legalizing it with restrictions and taxation. 

"Ask any advocate of marijuana prohibition, including CASA’s head Joseph ‘Russian Roulette’ Califano, why they oppose legalization and you will almost always receive the same response: Keeping pot illegal keeps it out of the hands of children. Yet CASA’s own survey demonstrates once again that just the opposite is true. In fact, it’s legalization, regulation, and public education — coupled with the enforcement of age restrictions — that most effectively keeps mind-altering substances out of the hands of children."*4

Illegal marijuana allows for more into the hands of children and more exposure to other drugs. Even when marijuana was illegal, there is no evidence of a gateway effect, but legalizing marijuana would decrease this other drug use. Since marijuana is so popular, legalizing it would be hard on drug cartels and less would be motivated to buy other illegal drugs like heroin. 

My opponent then argues that alcohol is easier to obtain than marijuana. I am not sure where he got that from, but it has always been known that marijuana is easier to obtain than alcohol.

"In their study, they found that 40 percent of teens could get marijuana within a day; another quarter said they could get it within an hour. In another portion of the survey, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 say it’s easier to get marijuana than buy cigarettes**, beer or prescription drugs. That number is up 37 percent from 2007.*4

Prohibition has failed but legalization and regulation can work, this idea shouldn't be ignored. Illegal marijuana leaves it to black market criminal entrepreneurs, which is more dangerous to us and teens. This now leads to my opponents rebuttal on Cartels.

Undermine Cartels rebuttal

My opponent argues that illegal drug cartels would not lose business. This is incorrect, it is happening under legal marijuana. 

"Agents on the 2,000 mile-U.S. border have wrestled with these smuggling techniques for decades, seemingly unable to stop the northward flow of drugs and southward flow of dollars and guns. But the amount of one drug — marijuana — seems to have finally fallen. U.S. Border Patrol has been seizing steadily smaller quantities of the drug, from 2.5 million pounds in 2011 to 1.9 million pounds in 2014. Mexico’s army has noted an even steeper decline, confiscating 664 tons of cannabis in 2014, a drop of 32% compared to year before."*5

This is what is happening in the face of legal marijuana. It becomes harder on the illegal drug cartels due to the lower prices from legalization and people choosing to buy it legally at stores rather than illegally from them.

"Drug policy reformists tout this market shift from Mexican gangsters to American licensed growers as a reason to spread legalization. “It is no surprise to me that marijuana consumers choose to buy their product from a legal tax-paying business as opposed to a black market product that is not tested or regulated,” says Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “When you go to a legal store, you know what you are getting, and that is not going to be contaminated.” A group called Marijuana Doctors elaborate the point in this comical online ad."*5

My opponent then argues that taxing marijuana would raise the price, but under illegal marijuana, prices are higher because of it being illegal. When marijuana was legalized, prices dropped. Also, people don't just buy marijuana for the price, they also choose legal marijuana because it is safer(was tested) and is regulated and sold legally.

 Medical Benefits rebuttal

My opponent argues that my medical benefits argument does not align with my case, of course it does. If marijuana is legal, this would include marijuana for medical purposes. At the beginning of my first round, I stated that I am arguing for cannabis in all of its consumed forms. Marijuana is used for medical purposes and works well, so it works as a medical drug. Then my opponent assumed for a moment that my model allowed for medical marijuana only. Marijuana has its health harms, but this is true of any other legal medical drug. Other already legal drugs are more dangerous than marijuana. You can't ban something because it has some harms, marijuana has many benefits, so its useful for medical purposes. I stated earlier that anything can have harmful effects on our body if used irresponsibly. Obviously, marijuana has its harms, but its benefits are worth noting. 


Overall, I believe that these are powerful reasons to legalize marijuana. While my opponent brought powerful arguments as well in this debate, I believe my case still stands. I am looking forward to my opponents future rebuttals.

This is my first debate against admin, the #1 on this site, so I hope I am doing well in this and if you think I am, don't be afraid to vote PRO. 

Thanks for reading


*1- https://www.medicaljane.com/2014/12/04/taking-care-of-business-the-effects-of-marijuana-on-productivity/

*2- https://www.mainstreet.com/article/is-legalized-marijuana-causing-a-spike-in-colorados-homeless-population

*3- http://bee-high.com/pages/cannabis-and-racism

*4- http://blog.norml.org/2009/08/28/study-says-its-easier-for-teens-to-buy-marijuana-than-beer/

*5- http://time.com/3801889/us-legalization-marijuana-trade/

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-02 20:57:34
| Speak Round
adminadmin (CON)
I'd like to thank my opponent for their rebuttals. I like the structure they've established and will further break this down thematically into social and personal impacts. I'll also deal with the two minor points we've established in this debate about cartels and medicine.

Social Impact
Pro's whole claim of marginal revenue is based on losing those pesky drug cartels. In fact this is irrelevant. Even if this money were taxed, any gains the government might get from this would inherently be offset by people smoking their way to poverty. A few people not paying a few sales taxes on one product is a drop in a pond compared to many people paying sales taxes for basic goods like food. When people spend more on pot, they spend less on those other valuable things. You're not adding anything to the economy by doing this - cartels need to convert their money anyway in order to actually use it, even if they want to take it out of the country. It's a zero sum game. The only way it works is because of short term hype.

I agree tobacco makes a lot of tax dollars. All I was saying is that it costs significantly more than it earns. None of my opponent's analysis refutes this point. The same is true of most legal recreational drugs.

I wonder if my opponent has ever questioned why there is a strong correlation between homelessness and marijuana. Maybe it's because it's an expensive, uncouth habit that few landlords or flatmates have the patience for. As such many smokers are thrown out or unable to keep up with rent. Of course they'd be attracted to a place with marijuana because that's - often - the reason why they're homeless in the first place.

In my argument I talked about a disruption to work productivity. In response pro found an article written by "Medical Jane", and following their source link just leads to a California doctor's cannabis sales page. He does claim to have surveyed his happy clients, which is hardly a scientific report, and indeed an example of self-selection bias. Clicking on their link (which pro had the audacity to include in his actual argument) for anecdotal evidence yields this scientific report published by a more respectable journal, which was an experimental study. They claim it says productivity may increase with cannabis. In fact what the study says is this:

"Introduction of cannabis resulted in lower productivity; reduction of intake raised productivity. A fall in productivity was matched by a fall in time spent working, but not in efficiency."

Meaning that pot smokers are less productive because they work less. I completely agree with these findings. The study was very carefully controlled and hardly "anecdotal". I encourage all to read it.

I agree American law enforcement is racist. If it wasn't marijuana, they'd probably arrest black people more for violent crimes. Oh wait, they already do. It has no relevance whatsoever to crime rates, but is simply an easy scapegoat racist officers use. If they didn't have marijuana, they'd find a different scapegoat. Pro says nothing can be done about this, but that racist actions can be stopped. Making crime legal is probably not a good way to do that. A more positive approach might be something like cameras mounted on officers making drug arrests. As for prison, I must reiterate, it would be impossible to put somebody in prison for marijuana possession alone even if they really wanted to. An arrest is not the same as imprisonment.

Personal Impact
Pro argues that there are studies proving marijuana is not a big threat to public health and carries little personal risk. I'd like a citation on that. I mean sure, it's a softer drug than meth, but that doesn't mean it is not risky. It's the same as how jumping off a 3-story high platform is less risky than jumping off a 10-story high one, but still risky.

It's a lie to say marijuana is merely dangerous to yourself. I mentioned drug driving as an example. People under the influence of marijuana have done stupid things and yes, people have died as a result. Not just the users, but innocent bystanders also. He gives no reason for why we should focus on violent criminals, but regardless, plenty of dealers are violent anyway. It is through force and intimidation that drug networks have continued to operate in America and beyond.

Pro concedes that "developing young minds" are harmed by marijuana. The truth is that drug dealers market marijuana to kids because they're the only ones impressionable enough to try it. Once they've got them hooked on drugs, then they're at the drug dealer's mercy. This is especially pernicious because of how easy marijuana is to access when it is legal, as I demonstrated in the previous round. My opponent's only data here is out of date (by 7 years, compared to mine which was updated just last year), and from a biased source (Norml which is pro-marijuana, as opposed to mine which was conducted by a neutral group for medical purposes only and not policy). They referred to a CASA survey (anti-marijuana biased, whose reports tend to be filled with "shock value" stuff) which had a broken link but was presumably this one. Note the study design only targeted older adolescents via a sampled (they don't say how) self-selected telephone survey. Their study happened to have an unusually high value for marijuana availability. Presumably it didn't increase by 33% in 2 years as they report because longitudinal data as that provided in my other source doesn't correlate with it. Regardless the same source also states that marijuana users get raped frequently so I'd take it with some caution if pro wants to rely on it. If he still isn't sure where I got it from, he can scroll up the page a little and find my sources are all hotlinked.

Pro says choices need to be left to the people. This is a nice principle but not one pro justifies. I also oppose most countries' current regulations on alcohol and other drugs so this is hardly comparative to the resolution. Governments have in fact been going too soft on drugs, making a mockery out of the attempt to permanently rid their plague from our society. Instead, a better principle ought to be the protection of all people. When people make poor choices, it's up to the rest of society to help them make better choices, not merely laugh at them or blame them. Given that using marijuana is a poor choice, the government is absolutely vindicated in preventing you from making that choice. This means that people can lead happier and healthier lives.

If there is no evidence marijuana users (including kids) go on to other drugs, then there cannot be a risk that kids go on to other drugs because of their marijuana habits. The two are literally saying opposite things. I do not see how there could possibly not be a contradiction there. Regardless, as was proven by my sources in the previous round, marijuana is used more than almost every other illegal drug in the United States combined. This effect is even greater when you consider that drug use is not exclusive, so a single user may appear in many drug categories. In the previous round I gave a clear mechanism for why there is a gateway effect. Pro has claimed one does not exist, but can't tell us why. Indeed other than his clear assertions that there is no such effect, his response to the point is rather confused. For example his notion of being "less would be motivated to buy other illegal drugs like heroin" can only possibly be true if there is a gateway effect.

My opponent doesn't answer my counter point to people using it anyway and instead goes on a tangent about the drug war. Consider the issue dropped.

So first of all, considering that almost all of pro's analysis is premised on this, pro does virtually nothing to dispute my mechanism. This is problematic because anecdotal evidence can be misleading due to confounding variables. A more likely explanation is that the gangs are simply less afraid of growing within the USA itself where their business is totally legal. Otherwise you'd have to believe that the two states where marijuana just so happens to be legal, previously consumed 33% of all illegally traded marijuana. Several times in the article pro cited it is mentioned that other confounding variables likely played a role.

Since that article was published we now know that gangs have adapted to drug legalization. They are still peddling their death sticks and making their cash money. It's just that more of the gangs will be American and less will be Mexican, at least for the time being. This has very little impact on the power of cartels.

Taxing marijuana raises the price above the equilibrium level. The equilibrium price is still set by demand and supply, both for gangs and legal sellers. The difference is that legal sellers have to mark up those prices to pay their tax. Illegal sellers are free to mark up however much they like so long as it is less than the tax, and they will be cheaper. This means they earn less than the government, but earn more than other marijuana sellers. And they are still the cheapest option.

It's a shame we had so little discussion on this point. First, my opponent did not answer that marijuana is a poor vehicle for delivering the same mechanism. My opponent did not answer that the same medical benefits without any of the risks can already be legally acquired, even using the exact same active ingredients. He did not answer that more research into this field is yet ongoing and that the long-term impact of the medicine is poorly understood.

I agree that his model called for marijuana in all its consumed forms, but this simply makes the point non comparative. The power of morphine as a drug does not mean morphine should be legal recreationally - that's a simple non-sequitur. He concedes that using medical marijuana can cause severe medical harms and while it's true other medical drugs can be more dangerous, they don't land hundreds of thousands in the emergency room every year. Numerous medications, once common, are now banned because they are too dangerous - cocaine for example.

The resolution is negated.

Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-07 06:43:24
| Speak Round
admin: I'm still confused. If drug dealers are in schools selling marijuana, do you think kids have easier access to heroin (for example)? Do you think that implies some of them might try heroin if it's available?
DHS15608: Drug Dealers sell many drugs, so if someone buys marijuana from one, there is a chance they may buy heroin.
admin: Logically without a drug dealer nearby they can't buy heroin, right? So in other words, when there are more dealers of drugs like marijuana, heroin consumption also rises?
DHS15608: Without one, then it would be less likely for someone to buy other drugs. The more people have access to drug dealers, the more they will get exposed to other drugs.
DHS15608: It is the persons choice with what drug they want to buy, so there is no knowing whether consumption will rise a certain amount or not.
DHS15608: However, more access to drug dealers may increase the chance for someone to buy another drug.
admin: So you do believe then, that marijuana drug dealers are upselling harder drugs to people? Suppose further that we called this phenomenon a "gateway effect", are you saying it exists but only because marijuana is illegal?
DHS15608: No, but marijuana being illegal can make it worse, and marijuana drug dealers that sell other drugs will give others more access and increase the chances of a gateway.
admin: Right so again, let me be clear: you believe there is a gateway effect but only under my model, right?
DHS15608: No, there is no inherent gateway effect, but your model increases the chances of someone possessing another drug.
admin: Isn't that what I called the "gateway effect" in this debate?
admin: To clarify: didn't I define the gateway effect as the sales of one drug leading to an increased chance somebody will buy another drug?
DHS15608: Gateway effect is the effect of possessing marijuana and then going to other drugs. I am saying marijuana doesn't normally lead to others.
admin: But does it sometimes lead to others under my model?
admin: So in my case I called that a gateway effect and I said that it sometimes leads to others under your model too, I believe? Do you agree there has been some misunderstanding because of these different definitions?
DHS15608: Possibly
admin: Just to try to get a better answer here, wouldn't you agree that nobody in this debate is saying every single stoner is going to try harder drugs?
DHS15608: but a gateway effect means that marijuana leading to other drugs is what happens. If you disagree, then I would like to know what you think the gateway effect is.
admin: I think it is that taking marijuana increases the likelihood an individual will try other drugs. Even if it increases the likelihood by only 0.000001% it's still a gateway effect. It does not mean the likelihood need increase by 100%
admin: Do you understand that distinction?
DHS15608: yes, i do understand what you mean.
admin: Does that affect your argument at all? I'd assume not but it's good to clarify these things.
DHS15608: It would affect it a little, but I understand.

Return To Top | Speak Round
Bi0HazardBi0Hazard (PRO)
I concede. I challenged admin because I wanted to see how I could do against him, he exceeded me, so I decided to not continue. I decided I don't want to continue. Thanks for accepting admin. 
Return To Top | Posted:
2016-06-14 02:40:31
| Speak Round

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I was going to hide the participants, but I will just trust that there will be no bias.
Posted 2016-05-21 20:08:46
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