There are many types of drugs, which exist under the sun. Heated debates have been going on trying to find out the true answer to a major question: Does the legalization of drugs give positive or negative results? The common perception is that such substances should be banned in order to protect the society from their harmful effects. But do these issues really limit the excessive use of drugs or on the contrary, increase the interest in them? From ancient times people all over the globe have considered that the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest. Nowadays in the countries where it is illegal to sell drugs many people are involved in organized criminal networks which lead to many problems not only in the field of drugs. The consequences of growing the black market have their effects on other more dangerous crimes. After this short introduction let us open today’s debate. First of all we will define the key terms in the given topic. Under the term ‘drug’ we understand a chemical substance that affects the central nervous system and is used recreationally for perceived desirable effects on personality, perception, or behavior. Under the term ‘decriminalise’ we understand that drugs can be traded legally and thus the people that deal with this business will not be prosecuted.
All the Yes points:
- There is no legal bar on the purchase of alcoholic drink and cigarettes, though both are often addictive
- The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest
- Individuals should be free to do whatever they like with themselves as long as this harms no one else
- Decriminilisation of drugs will diminish organised crime
- Decriminalising drugs will make them safer
- In addition to our first argument: There is no legal bar on the purchase of alcoholic drink and cigarettes, though both are often addictive
- In addition to our second argument: The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest
- In addition to our third argument: Individuals should be free to do whatever they like with themselves as long as this harms no one else
- In addition to our fourth argument: Decriminilisation of drugs will diminish organised crime
- In addition to our fifth argument: Decriminalising drugs will make them safer
- Our summary
All the No points:
- Drugs are bad
- Why is it legitimate for the government to ban drugs
- Case of legal drugs, drawing analogies.
There is no legal bar on the purchase of alcoholic drink and cigarettes, though both are often addictive
The British Medical Association has conducted a research which shows that nicotine is far more addictive than cannabis. Moreover, alcohol and the smoking of cigarettes kill more people per year than the use of cannabis does(e.g. through lung cancer, stomach ulcers, accidents caused by drunk driving etc.). Decriminalisation of marijuana will remove an unfair law in which substances far more dangerous than cannabis are legal while the possession and use of cannabis is a violation of the law
First of all we would like to point out that the proposition didn’t tell us anything about the problem under the status quo, which made them to strive for their plan. Secondly, their plan could have been more detailed as well.
Ok, now after we have dealt with some technical issues, it is time to get to the principles and start debating over them.
We believe that the proposition misused the examples of alcohol and cigarettes. Let’s expose the most important problems in their reasoning:
We want to point out that alcohol and heavy drugs are not similar at all. There are some similarities between them (they are both addictive), but that’s it.
Firstly, drugs are far stronger in their addictive effects. Normally it takes a lot of time and effort for someone to get addicted from alcohol or cigarettes. It is not a single accident, rather a long chain of decisions made by the individual. On the other hand, heroin, for instance, requires to be used a few times to have an addictive effect.
Secondly, drugs clearly cause far more harm to the user. For example, long-term effects of using heroin can include infection of heart lining and valves or arthritis and other rheumatic problems [[http://www.heroinaddiction.com/heroin_heroin.html#long]].
Yes, alcohol and cigarettes are legal, but it is because they are significantly less addictive and harmful.
Yes, we do concede that marijuana is not too harmful. However, we would like to remind the proposition that they are planning to decriminalise all drugs, not only cannabis. The harmful effects of stronger drugs which fall under their plan, like heroin or cocaine, are far bigger and have a devastating effect on the lives of people who use them.
Simply arguing that cannabis is not that bad will not help government to win this debate; their burden of proof is to show why decriminalizing ALL drugs is such a good idea.
The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest
Many psychological studies indicate that when something is prohibited it becomes very temping and everybody wants to see what is it like, why is it prohibited. We consider that history can teach us best how to handle such issues like the prohibition of drugs. In the USA during the 1920s there was a very similar problem. In fact it was almost the same as the problem with drugs nowadays – alcohol was prohibited and the results were only negative. The prohibition added to the problems it was intended to solve. The biggest problem of the prohibition, however, was that organized crime grew into an empire, disrespect for the law grew and the per capita consumption of the prohibited substance – alcohol – increased dramatically. So potential prohibition of drugs will not decrease the consumption of drugs, it will not solve the current problems. On the contrary, it will only aggravate them.
The proposition has depicted a rather simplistic picture of reality. Yes, the effect of the forbidden fruit obviously does matter. The real question is – how much does it matter? Is the effect so great that it can be stronger than the decrease in consumption caused by the limited access to them?
We doubt the importance of the psychological temptation to consume something that has been banned. It is not a coincidence that proposition chose not to provide any empirical evidence that supports their hypothesis. In reality, the results of studies analysing reverse psychology in different contexts have been mixed and there is no clear consensus that this effect is powerful [[Sabini, Social Psychology, 1994]].
The example that they used certainly does not strengthen their case. Firstly, it is not even clear that the forbidden fruit effect played a role in the problems caused by the alcohol ban. Remember, the problem was not the increase in the use of alcohol, rather all the externalities brought about by the black market. Secondly, even if it would have worked in that situation, we believe that one example cannot really prove anything. The proposition should establish a mechanism that makes people react to the ban of drugs by increased consumption.
On the contrary, we believe that restricted access to drugs really helps to decrease their use.
If drugs are banned, it becomes far more complicated to buy them. If its more complicated, less people will buy them. If less people buy them, less people will consume them. It is that simple. We believe that people often engage in individual cost-benefit analysis – if getting drugs will be too complicated/expensive, less people will make the choice they might regret later.
Individuals should be free to do whatever they like with themselves as long as this harms no one else
It is common knowledge that if one wants to take drugs, the fact that they are illegal is not a deterrent. People should be at liberty to treat themselves in any way they want to. Actually, there is no such law that forbids people to eat and drink to their detriment and even death, so why shouldn there be law forbidding them to use drugs? Of course, their use must not harm anyone else’s life. This means that the law should be amended in such a way that people will not be forbidden to use drugs, but they will be forbidden to violate the freedom and rights of other citizens. If this task can be acaccomplished with alcohol and cigarettes, it can be acaccomplished with drugs, too. After all the main principle of the Bill of rights developed by the United Nations is the following: ‘All human beings are born with equal rights and fundamental freedoms’. These fundamental freedoms defend the right of every person to do whatever he likes as long as he/she does not harm anyone else.
You can download the UN Declaration of rights from here: http://www.un.org/events/humanrights/udhr60/hrphotos/declaration_eng.pdf
Once again the proposing team has not impressed us with their reasoning. Let’s identify some of the obvious flaws in their case:
The proposition believes that the only valid reason for limiting individual freedom is the harm that is done to the 3rd party. Even though we do not accept this as the only criterion, we want to show that, even with their criterion, the plan does not make sense.
There are inherent practical reasons why it can be very complicated/expensive/restrictive to prevent an individual under the influence of drugs to not restrict the liberties of his fellow citizens. People can be very hard to control when high. For instance, substances like amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, and PCP can occasionally cause violent outbursts for some individuals [[http://www.druglibrary.org/SCHAFFER/library/basicfax6.htm]].
Even though people are responsible for any crime under the influence of drugs, we believe that we should also do whatever is necessary to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. We do not see how it would be possible to put a policeman on every corner or trap drug users in places where they do not harm anyone. Since this is practically implausible, drugs should stay illegal.
So what about alcohol, the proposition might say. Well, in some countries there are restrictions on selling alcohol during the night (Latvia, for instance). Here, the situation is identical. We recognize our inability to prevent crime from taking place if there would not be such a restriction.
We also do not believe in total individual freedom and want to advocate a more paternalistic approach.
We will develop this in more detail in our arguments, but people often make decisions that they later regret. The state has better knowledge about the decisions that would be the most beneficial for the individual. So we CAN limit individual freedom if it helps our citizens to achieve outcomes that they value.
Decriminilisation of drugs will diminish organised crime
Public alarm has been stirred up more by the undesirable side-effects of the illicit trade in drugs than by any knowledge about the drugs themselves. Since the law bans them, it is inevitable that a black market should have grown up to meet the considerable demand that exists. If their sale were made legal, at officially-controlled prices, the black market would disappear overnight – and with it would go the theft, blackmail, drugpushing and other evils which surround it at present. In view of the widespread, albeit illegal trade in drugs (soft and hard), fully effective control of this illicit market is in any case currently almost impossible, in practice — seizures by police and Customs amount to only a tiny fraction of the whole trade. The Netherlands, which has allowed the possession and retail sale of marijuana since 1976, is actually lower in the rank than the United States in the percentage of people who have ever tried marijuana in every age category. Moreover, those who have tried have done this at an age higher that the average age of the people in the United States who use other illegal drugs. Toleration of drugs in the Netherlands has not led to a massive rise in consumption, as critics feared, and the police have found it much easier to keep an eye on the trade.
On the side of the opposition we see no reason why legalizing drugs should force the existing drug lords exit the market. The proposition has written that somehow all the evil problems connected with the black market for drugs will disappear overnight after the plan is implemented, but didn’t give us any mechanism how this could work. We believe that the most probable scenario is even worse than the status quo.
Those drug lords that are getting high revenues from drug dealing on the black market now will remain in this business after the legalization. If after paying all the taxes and other costs operation still brings them benefits, there is a huge incentive for them to remain. The business is profitable and they have all the means (capital, contacts, infrastructure, know how) to operate in it. Taking into account that corruption for these people is not new, it is hard to imagine that any competition will enter the market. After the plan is implemented these people will only say “thank you” to the government, since now they don’t have to worry about getting into jail for drug dealing.
OK, we concede that, under the status quo, black market for drugs is a problem we have to face and deal with. However, their assertion that all black markets will disappear overnight is ridiculous. We have seen several examples of this in other industries. After the restrictions on guns were implemented black market has developed together with the legal one in this sphere. There is black market of alcohol and tobacco, although these substances are legal. The reason why some people buy these goods on the black market is because they are cheaper there, since they are free from excise tax. Criminals are happy to satisfy this demand and earn some revenues, thus the black market is developing. Under this plan it is still possible that the black market of drugs remains and it this case no problem named by the proposition will be solved.
We see little connection between theft or blackmail and the black market of drugs. The proposition has failed to explain that. They could have meant that these activities are done by the same organizations that are involved in drug dealing and the main revenue of these organizations is the revenue from drugs, thus they could finance theft and blackmailing. If this is the case, we have tackled it above that these organizations most likely will never leave this profitable market. However, even if we take away revenues from drugs, these organizations will still be able to involve in theft and blackmailing. Moreover, they will have a higher incentive to do that in order to compensate the loss coming from the exit from the profitable industry (drug dealing). In other words if they lose one source of income, they could push harder on other sources, thus increasing the crime rates.
We see also no reason that drug pushing will disappear. Now it will just take a legal form, which more efficient. No one offers to buy alcohol an the streets, not because it is banned, but because it is inefficient. The most efficient way of “alcohol pushing” is in shops by different offers, discounts or other means of direct marketing. Under this plan we believe that drug pushing will take the same form of “two for the price of one” offers.
The reason why people in the US use drugs more than people in Netherlands is not necessarily because of the drug legalization in the Netherlands. This could be accounted for other reasons such as that people in the US have higher income (GDP per capita) [[https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html]]
With this we mean that the proposition first of all didn’t state any sources where could we find these striking facts about the usage of drugs in the US and the Netherlands, and, secondly, even if we see the facts they have to show the direct correlation between these two factors (legalization of drugs and the use of them). Otherwise, these facts could be accounted for other reasons.
Decriminalising drugs will make them safer
One of the most serious problems connected with drugs is the one of diseases – such as HIV and hepatitis – spreading as a result of drug users sharing hyperdermic needles as they necessarily get their ‘drug kick’ in secret.  If drugs are no longer illegal they will be safer because before reaching the market they will be tested by official drug testers and if they contain something of any danger to people they will just not reach on the market. Nowadays buying drugs from the underworld is quite hazardous as the drugs are not tested and one may well die because of taking drug containing deadly ingredients in it.
We see no reasons how medical tests of drugs will help us to deal with HIV or hepatitis, which are caused by the usage of the same needle by many drug addicts, not by the quality of drugs. Clearly nothing prevents drug addicts from using the same needle for getting themselves a “drug kick” of a high quality drug, so their plan fails to tackle this problem.
We agree that legalization of drugs could lead to a better quality. However, we believe that this reason is not the ultimate for legalizing drugs. There is an evil substance which is causing evil things by itself (addiction to it, damaged health and reduced intelligence, high possibility of dying from overdose, high possibility of committing crimes under the influence of it etc.) and in addition to that some secondary set of problems (a possibility to die from using the substance of a bad quality). The proposition now is solving secondary problems by legalizing the substance, but by that they are risking that the incidents of primary problems will sky rocket. We believe that the ultimate way of solving both primary problems and the secondary ones are harsher restrictions, control and public education, not legalizing and leaving everything for self-control.
Anyway in case of legal alcohol, there is still a possibility to die from cheap low-quality alcohol. The same will be after the plan is implemented. The drug market will differentiate on high quality expensive drugs and cheap drugs of low quality, which put a user at higher risk while using them.
In addition to our first argument: There is no legal bar on the purchase of alcoholic drink and cigarettes, though both are often addictive
First and foremost, we would like to remind the opposition that we are not leading a Karl Popper debate and that is why we do not necessarily need a policy case. In the regulations of the completion it is not written that the debaters shall offer a policy or plan for solving a particular problem. We are debating whether all drugs should be decriminalised or not. So we are proving that legalization of drug trade can bring only benefits to the society as a whole.
In your first counterargument you state that drugs are significantly less addictive and harmful compared to alcohol and cigarettes. Well, that is obviously rather simplistic view. Let us remind our honored opposition that alcohol and cigarettes can cause much more harm to society as a whole while drugs can be detrimental only to the individuals that use them.
Alcohol is responsible for the deaths of millions of people worldwide. However, it is responsible for these deaths not only directly but also indirectly. Alcohol does not easily kill people itself but drunken drivers kill about 185,000 each year ‘[[http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_people_were_killed_by_drunk_drivers_last_year]]’ Only in the USA 41,059 people died in car accidents in 2007 and 15,387 of these people died because of drunken drivers ‘[[http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics.html]]’
We would also like to mention that cigarettes substantially shorten the lives not only of people who smoke but also of people who inhale the smoke produced by smokers. Meanwhile, drugs do not cause any harm to people who do not use drugs themselves.
The opposition states that alcohol and cigarettes are much less harmful than drugs. However, we were unable to see any evidence that defends their claim. That is why we offer clear statistics which show the approximate number of people killed by alcohol, cigarettes and drugs in the USA every year ‘[[http://www.druglibrary.org/Schaffer/library/basicfax3.htm]]’ It seems obvious that since much more harmful goods like alcohol and cigarettes are available on the market there is no sense in banning drugs that cause definitely less harm to people and society.
So, to recapitulate, we refuted the opposition’s first counterargument by proving that drugs are much less harmful compared to alcohol and cigarettes, they cause much less deaths and therefore since they are legal drugs should also be legal!
In addition to our second argument: The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest
The opposition tried to refute our second argument by citing some book (unknown to us) in which it was written that there is no clear consensus that the effect of the sweetest fruit is so powerful. We would like to point out that we do not have this book (we cannot verify the offered information) and we do not know of such researches at all.
We will just support our argument by reminding the opposition of the story of Adam and Eva. We all know that the Bible gives us demonstrative facts of human behavior. So it is not accidental that the story about the sweetest fruit is documented in the Bible. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that when something is forbidden it arouses interest. That is a truism! It does not have to be proved!
There were some technical problems with entering text as a response to their previous argument, so this section will include rebuttal both to their previous argument and this argument.
To the previous argument:
(1) We absolutely reject the idea that alcohol and cigarettes are as harmful or [as the government seems to believe] more harmful than hard drugs.
There is simply is no way these can be compared. We have previously demonstrated the huge harm associated with using hard drugs. These harms far outweigh the risks associated with the use of alcohol and tobacco.
It was hard not to notice the inappropriate use of statistics by the proposition. Yes, obviously the ABSOLUTE number of people dying from alcohol and cigarettes is bigger. But that’s just because drugs are currently illegal! The real proxy variable that we should be looking at is the RELATIVE harm for one individual who is using a particular substance. It is not that hard to understand that, in this sense, cocaine is far more harmful than alcohol and cigarettes.
We also fundamentally reject the idea that drugs, contrary to alcohol, does not harm the 3rd party. The examples given by the proposition were unconvincing. People can also drive under the influence of drugs and be dangerous. Just because currently there are less people who are doing so (remember, this is not about the absolute number) does not mean that this amount of people would not increase after the ban is removed.
(2) We have never argued that alcohol and cigarettes are not harmful. This debate is not about that. If they are so harmful as the proposition believes they are, they should also be banned – we would not have problem with that (by the way, we previously have shown historical reasons why they are not banned under the status quo). If they are not that harmful, they should stay legal.
Either way, we have demonstrated the gigantic harms associated with the drug use. Regardless of what you think about cigarettes and alcohol, there is no place for drugs in our society.
To this argument:
(1) We find using one historical text as a basis for generalising about human behaviour unacceptable. We do not believe that a parable from the Bible can in any way compete with scientific psychological research about what motivates human beings.
Our point was simply that is not clear whether the effect of the forbidden fruit has so much impact on human behaviour. Every social psychology textbook can reaffirm this.
(2) We would like to point out that the proposition chose not to respond to the central point of what we were saying. We did not say that the forbidden fruit effect does not work. We said that this effect is likely to be weaker than the real, objective, contraints put on people when buying drugs. We believe that a ban results in a lower total consumption of drugs.
(3) Finally, we would like to point out a fundamental inconsistency in what the proposition team is saying.
On one hand, they are saying that drugs are something that individuals should be allowed to consume. They think that the harm they produce is less important than the individual ability to choose. Thus they concede that is acceptable that people consume drugs.
On the other hand, they have created this argument about the forbidden fruit. They say that banning drugs increases interest in drugs, which is bad.
So which one is it? Is consuming drugs a good thing or a bad thing? We think that this argument fundamentally contradicts the rest of their case.
In addition to our third argument: Individuals should be free to do whatever they like with themselves as long as this harms no one else
So in their third counterargument the opposition is also arguing that drugs are very dangerous. This time they assert that people under the influence of drugs can be very hard to control and can be dangerous to other people. Well, as they confessed the same thing can happen with drunken people. As a solution to that problem they proposed restrictions on selling alcohol during the night. Firstly, I would like to point out that the example of Latvia offered by the opposition is everything but global and cosmopolitan. Even if we assume that many countries around the world will set restrictions on selling of alcohol during night it is ridiculous to think that this will solve the problem. After all everybody can buy alcohol in the afternoon and drink it in the evening. Everybody can get drunk even in the morning and cause public disturbances.
We would also like to add that we do not agree with the belief of the opposition that the state should limit individual freedom. However, we will prove that we are right later when refuting their argument.
So, with their third counterargument the opposition once again proved that alcohol is similar to drugs. Both can lead to the same consequences and therefore since alcohol is legal, drugs should also be legal!
This is very similar to what was dicussed before. Again, we would like to repeat that it does not really matter whether alcohol and cigarettes are illegal or not. If you think they are so bad, they should be banned as well.
We have shown why drugs should be banned, and that is enough.
In addition to our fourth argument: Decriminilisation of drugs will diminish organised crime
The fourth counterargument of the opposition is also not very convincing. It shows their incompetence when talking of government affairs. So, we say that legalization of the drug trade will diminish the organized crime and the black market to very small levels. And you say that after paying all the taxes and other costs operation the drug dealers will still remain on the market. Ok, and what is wrong with that? Since they pay their taxes they will be regular taxpayers with legal business. They will no longer be part of the organized crimes and the black market.
The opposition has misunderstood our words about blackmail and theft. We say that they surround the current illegal business. This may happen in different ways – drug dealers can blackmail drug addicts for more money; drug addicts can blackmail other people to give them money for drugs; drug addicts can steal expensive objects, money or something else that is valuable in order to pay for the expensive drugs on the illegal market. However, if drug trading becomes legal theft and blackmail will fall to very low levels or will almost disappear. Since drug trading will be legal there will be fixed prices for every kind of drug. These prices will be significantly lower compared to the current fluctuating prices on the black market. Now drugs are illegal. Therefore, they are expensive. When drugs become legal they will be easily acquired because they are produced easily and cheaply and they will be found in the shops.
The opposition also depicted a very interesting scheme concerning the drug pushing. Fortunately, it works for our case. We do not think that currently there is any alcohol pushing. Everybody can buy alcohol whenever he/she likes. The discounts that the opposition is talking about only contribute to the developing of a better competitive market. And exactly this will happen with drugs. When there is better competitive market prices will be lower, the quality of drugs will also be better and therefore the will be no drug pushing. The opposition actually states that when something is on discount one will buy it at all cost. That is ridiculous. When you see a magazine of a big supermarket with many special offers and discounts do you buy all the products on discount or do you buy only things you need? A person who wants to buy a drug will buy it and another who is not interested in it will not buy it only because of the discount.
The opposition also gave a very interesting explanation about the usage of the drugs in the USA and the Netherlands. According to them just because US citizens have higher incomes than the Dutch they use more drugs. In this train of thought we may assume that in Luxemburg where the living standards are highest in the world there are a great number of drug addicts. We were also accused of not offering evidence and statistics about the use of drugs in the USA and the Netherlands We here they are! ‘[[http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/67]]’ These statistics show that in the Netherlands there is the lowest number of drug addicts in Europe! Undoubtedly that is possible because of their tolerance towards the trade and use of drugs.
In the end of their fourth counterargument the opposition writes the following: ‘they (the proposition) have to show the direct correlation between these two factors (legalization of drugs and the use of them)’. As far as I can understand what the opposition says they imply that there is no direct correlation between legalization of drugs and the use of them. So they actually agree with us that if we legalize drug trade that will not increase the current consumption of drugs. That very much makes the debate pointless as they agree with us but still we will refute their other arguments.
In addition to our fifth argument: Decriminalising drugs will make them safer
The proposition team believes that the victims of low-quality drugs will be lowered to a much smaller number than the number of victims nowadays. And the reason why this will happen is not only that there are not going to be new addicts, but that drugs are going to be purified. We believe that overdoses and impure drugs are the main reasons for people to die from drugs.
As we all know there is no dealer who will tell his customers that by buying this product they threaten their health or that there are special programs which help people to stop using drugs. Nowadays all member states of the European Union sell all the tobacco products with labels which inform the consumers about the risks of smoking. Such an idea can be applied to drugs only if they are legal. The results of this initiative are obvious. This report  shows that many people consider the effective, especially the people under 30, the age in which people are most susceptible to using drugs.
Another point is that the country will offer free injections which will cost the country nothing compared with what it spends on coping with diseases such as AIDS. Imposing laws that bind the sellers to give a free unused needles will make drug consumers forget about using a needle twice. We are sure you will agree that no one will consider using another person’s injection if he or she can use his or her own.
That is why we think that less people will die from drugs if they are legalized! That is the right thing to do.
Once again, it was not possible to enter text as a response to the previous argument. We suspect that it might have something to do with the length of the links and would like to ask the organisers of WODC to deal with this technical issue.
To the previous argument:
We do not really believe that legalising one activity of these cartels (producing/selling drugs) will somehow help to deal with the other activities they are engaged in (blackmail, kidnapping etc.). The government has not really provided any reason why governmental control over one part of the business will result in control over others. We would like to point out, quite on the contrary, most legal gambling companies in Eastern Europe are controlled by criminal gangs. However, that does not mean that there has been a decrease in their other, illegal activities.
We believe that the proposition has misunderstood our response about Netherlands. They believe we have told that there is no correlation between the legal status of drugs and the usage of them. We would like to point out we didn’t. In one counterargument we stated that the proposition should interpret statistical data more carefully, since just showing us statistics on the usage of drugs for the US and the Netherlands won’t do anything good. We told that the higher rate of drug use in the US could be because of other reasons, not the illegal status of drugs. Thus they should present different kind of statistics if they want to support this argument. For example the rates of the usage of drugs in the Netherlands before the legalization of drugs and after it. Also it is worth noting here that not all drugs are legal in the Netherlands. On April 25, 2008 Dutch government has passed the bill banning hallucinogenic “magic mushrooms” after several incidents of deaths under the influence. [[Dutch Cabinet bans sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms in new retreat from liberal policies, Herald Tribune, October 12, 2007]] From 1 December 2008 these drugs are banned, leaving only cannabis to be legal. Since we debate about all drugs, the Netherlands example doesn’t work at all.
Even if this plan would eliminate most of the black market, we still believe that the harm of drugs is too big to pass this motion. More on the harms in our final argument.
To this argument:
Please see our final argument for a direct response. We believe that, even in a legal, perfectly controlled market, huge problems will arise.
It is time to make a summary of our debate over the issue of decriminalization of drugs.
We, the proposition, believe that after decades of futile fight against the illegal drug trade it is time for a change. It is high time we started the fight against the noxious effects of drug consumption, of drug trade in a new way! That is way we advocate for legalization of all drugs. We will go through the main points of clash that arouse during the debate and show you that we proved right!
First of all we expressed our understanding that since addictive products like alcohol and cigarettes are currently available on the market drugs should also be legalized. The opposition tried to refute our argument but without much success. It is childish to attempt to dismiss the parallel that we have made with alcohol, simply by saying that the debate is about drugs, not cigarettes. We believe that since there is sound reasoning why alcohol and cigarettes are legal, this should be considered when looking at the case with drugs, because cigarettes and alcohol are also addictive. We provided clear statistics that prove the relatively small number of people dying of drugs compared to the number of people dying of alcohol and cigarettes. The opposition tried to convince us that if drugs are legalized the deaths caused by drugs will rise significantly. That is simply ridiculous! We don’t believe that when drugs are legalized everybody will rush to the market and buy them? Of course, nothing like this will happen. In no way did the opposition manage to prove that by decriminalising drugs will the number of people who use them increase. On the contrary, we have pointed out in various ways, such as the example with the Netherlands and the forbidden fruit argument (even if its impact is limited, it is still existent) that there will be no increase in the use of hard drugs. What we will achieve however, is a better, safer, healthier and supervised legal market for drugs, which will allow a new approach of treatment for the people who suffer from that addiction which will help them to feel less like social outcasts, outlaws and hopeless people. This is the only way to try to help them and reincorporate them back into society as normal individuals rather than recidivists with no future as the opposition would have them be. We explained that even now drugs are available everywhere and if somebody wants to buy some it is not a problem. Once again we repeat that the war against drugs is as futile as it was against alcohol in the USA in the previous century. The consumption of alcohol did not change then. Likewise, the consumption of drugs will not change now!
The second clash point was connected with the truism that we cited – “The forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest”. We gave this quotation as a proof that now when drugs are forbidden more people would like to taste them, to see what they are like. Therefore, we are absolutely sure that if drugs are legalized the consumption will either diminish or remain the same. By the way the opposition agreed that there is no direct correlation between the legalization of drugs and the use of them. So our opinions overlap on this point. To prove our statement that the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest we showed clear evidence in the Bible which is a book known to almost everyone. Trying to oppose us the opposition cited some book which unfortunately we do not possess and therefore we cannot verify the provided information. In the same way we can tell you that in another book there is research supporting our point.
The opposition tried to show an inconsistency in our case but let us make it clear. We know that drugs are harmful and that people should not consume them. But now they do this. We have to change that! The current measures have proved ineffective and this is why we are looking for a change!
The third clash point (about the individual freedoms) also was closely related with the parallel between drugs and alcohol. Once again we proved that the effects of alcohol are similar to those of drugs. In order to oppose our argument the opposition could do nothing else except just to deny the fundamental freedoms of the individuals quoted by us from the UN declaration of rights. They constructed a whole argument built on the limitation of individual freedoms. We express our absolute confrontation of opinion on that point. In the modern democratic world there is no place for limitation of freedoms which can eventually lead to dictatorships. We will discuss the point more thoroughly when talking about the opposition’s argument.
The fourth clash point was about whether legalization of drugs will remove the black market and the organized crime. We believe that the opposition was unable to refute our argument. We explained how the legalization will affect the current situation. It will bring only two main benefits – disappearing of the drug mafia and new income taxes to the budget from the new legal drug business. The opposition’s efforts to contradict us were deplorable. They claimed that the mafia will not disappear and will continue to operate legally. Well, is there a mafia operating legally? We do not think so. Since the dealer will pay taxes he or she will be legal taxpayer with legal business. Moreover, the market will become more competitive. Thus the prices will decrease. Finally, as a result of legalization and lower prices blackmailing, stealing, and drug pushing will also disappear. As we explained in one of our argument the incomes in the budgets will increase and the number of drug addicts will either lessen or remain the same.
In our fifth argument which also turned into a clash point we defended the position that decriminalizing drugs will make them safer. We explained that drugs will be of higher quality and thus their consumption will lead to diminishing deaths caused by impure drugs. We also supported our argument by explaining that when drugs are legal every drug addict will have access to a new unused injection. In this way we are sure that spreading of diseases like AIDS and hepatitis will decrease significantly. Last but not in order of importance, I would like to point out that the opposition made an attempt to refute our argument in the second stage of the debate but in the fourth stage of the debate they mentioned almost nothing about it. We looked for a rebuttal in their last new argument but we found none. They did not even interpret the new moments in our continuation of the argument about the warning labels that can be put on the drugs. We guess that this reluctance to give a rebuttal means that the opposition has completely acceded with us on that point.
Now let’s go on to the arguments of the honored opposition. The first one was a rather simplistic – drugs are bad. Yes, we also think that they are harmful. The opposition admits that drugs are harmful that they are bad, but do not propose any solution that will actually change the status quo. In fact, their claims are not supported by any real substance or novelty but simply childish, archaic and useless claims of an outdated model of thinking. “There is no place for drugs in our society” is the mistake of the past. “Drugs exist in our society and we have to deal with it” is the way of the future that we propose. By simply not paying attention to this problem, we won’t diminish the drug consumption. We do not say that it is a healthy thing to be addicted to drugs. What we say is that it is much better that it is done so LEGALLY rather than ILLEGALLY. Furthermore, even hard drugs can be harmless if they are consumed in the right quantity and many individuals are responsible enough and strong enough to take drugs in that manner, so there is no reason to deprive them from that opportunity or in fact force them to go to the underworld. The opposition wrote a long verbose explanation of how drugs can influence human beings. As we have already said the aim of this debate is to show whether legalization will lead to improvement of the current situation, whether less people will use drugs and whether there will be more benefits to the society as a whole. So from our point of view the first part of the opposition’s argument was a bit useless and even not very relevant. The second part was concerned with the harms that legalization will bring to society. We once again showed to the opposition that the harms to society caused by drugs are similar to those caused by alcohols. In fact, as our statistics proved only drunken drivers are responsible for more deaths than all drugs in the USA. The opposition also argued that legalizing drugs will lead to even more economic losses that the current ones. However, we proved that their reasoning was wrong. The legalization of drugs will not increase the number of drug addicts. It will actually increase the incomes in the state’s budget! Therefore, legalization will bring about some very good economic benefits! We would also like to say that in the fourth stage the opposition also did not response to our rebuttal of their argument. We suppose that this means that they agree with what we offered as a rebuttal.
The second argument of the opposition was concerned with the restriction of individual rights. One more time we totally disagree with them as their argument is in a clear contradiction with the UN declaration of rights that we cited. Nevertheless, we again refuted the opposition’s argument. They stated that the behavior of drug addicts was myopic. We drew a parallel with alcohol. The opposition accused us that we were making very much reference between alcohol and cigarettes. Eventually they even said that ban on alcohol and cigarettes is also possible. We do not consider that as an opportunity since this also contradicts with the UN declaration of rights. We can look for other methods of stopping accidents with drunken drivers and drug addicts. Such can be a stronger control by the police officers. To support their argument the opposition also proposed government restrictions. The opposition stated that the government knew better than its citizens what is good for them and what is not. Well, we showed that it is not that simple. Many governments have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. As an example we gave the ban of alcohol in the US in the 20th century. This was a mistake made by the government. This ban did not accomplish any of the intended effects. So governments are not perfect. After all, they are also ruled by people who make mistakes. Unfortunately, once again the opposition did not interpret our counterargument. We guess they also agreed with us on that point.
We know that the summary does not have to include new rebuttal but we feel it was unfair to leave us without opportunity for response to the opposition’s last argument. By repeating most of our arguments we will try in very concise way to show that our arguments can serve as counterargument to your new third argument.
About your last argument we did not see a clear statistic that confirms your allegation that the profile of people dying from overdose has changed from poor Afro-American youngsters to working white male in their 40s. About your argument about sedatives and painkillers we would like to say that nowadays these people are not paid much attention to. When drugs are legalized everyone who buys drugs will give his ID and the government will be able to process this information and help these people overcome their addiction. Currently nothing is done to help these people. About the overdoses, unfortunately, no one can stop people from committing suicides using sedatives and painkillers or whatever substance they use. This is their choice, their life. And actually it is quite a simplistic view to think that if something is legal, the government sends a message that it is good for you. The best examples once again are with drugs and cigarettes and the labels on them showing people they are harmful. The same will be with drugs which could even lead to diminishing of number of people addicted. Once again we have shown that possible legalization will only lead to benefits for the people.
To recapitulate, let us write in brief why our arguments are better and why in they are implemented only benefits will follow.
1. Drugs have to be legal because addictive alcohol and cigarettes are also legal. We cannot ban all of them because this contradicts the UN declaration of rights.
2. The current situation of ban on drugs only increases the interest of people in them. The forbidden drugs taste the sweetest. In this train of thought if they are legalized it will diminish the number of drug addicts.
3. Our third argument defends the rights of the individual and show that there must not be restriction of these rights. Other methods can be implemented in order to diminish the crimes connected with drunk and drug addicts.
4. Decriminalization will lead to the disappearance of the drug black market! Taxes will be paid on drug trade. Thus bigger incomes will go to the budget! So legal drugs will took the money from the black market and put them in the state’s budget. The disappearance of the black market and the appearance of the competitive market will lead to disappearance of blackmailing, stealing and drug pushing!
5. Legalization will lead to better quality of drugs, to easier access to needles and health care for drug addicts. The better quality, the health care and the abundance of needles will diminish the death rate of drug addicts!
Drugs are bad
We believe that in order to win the debate any side should prove that drugs are harmful / not harmful and that the state could / could not restrict individual liberties. So our burden of proof is to prove that drugs are bad (otherwise, there would be no reason for banning them) and that the state is a legitimate actor to ban them (i.e. restrict personal freedom of choice). We will do this by two arguments and here comes the first one proving that drugs are bad in general.
On the side of opposition we believe that drugs are inherently evil. They have tremendous negative consequences for the health of a person using them and for society, since a person could commit crazy actions under the influence of drugs. Moreover, part of taxes paid by residents of a country are spent on treating drug users from their addiction, which results in a loss for the welfare of the state. The argument is structured in a manner to point out harmful health effects from the usage of different drugs, and explain how work the mechanisms causing lose for society overall.
1. Negative effects on health.
Among all drugs, heroin sometimes is encountered as the most evil. Scientific research shows that people using heroin suffer from serious health problems and have a higher mortality rate than others of the same age who do not use drugs. The increased number of injections plays as a catalyst in developing some infections like endocarditis, cellulitis and abscesses. It has a clear positive correlation with the usage of heroin, since this drug is usually consumed by injections [[http://www.santepub-mtl.qc.ca/Publication/pdfppm/ppmapril2005-2.pdf]].
Also heroin causes serious mental disorders like anxiety and personality disorders. [[http://www.santepub-mtl.qc.ca/Publication/pdfppm/ppmapril2005-2.pdf]] Drug addicts also have a higher rate of suicides, which is proven by some recent studies [[http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/175/3/277]]. Some research suggests that heroin addicts are 14 times more likely to commit a suicide than their peers who do not use this drug [[http://www.med.unsw.edu.au/NDARCWeb.nsf/resources/DI_ResearchProject/$file/Methadone+Project+sheet.pdf]]. The most popular way of committing the suicide is by deliberate drug overdose. We could propose a mechanism to describe this phenomena. A person, whose mental and physical health were undermined by heroin, who is completely desegregated from society and has no sufficient stimulus for living, under the influence of depression caused by the end of heroin “high” decides to commit a suicide. There are numerous examples of such people.
There is also a high rate of non deliberate deaths from overdose among heroin users. Tolerance towards this drug develops very fast, which requires an addict to use the substance more frequently and at higher doses. About 10-20% of users develop such a significant dependence and tolerance that they have to use heroin every 3-4 hours [[http://www.santepub-mtl.qc.ca/Publication/pdfppm/ppmapril2005-2.pdf]]. This makes overdose very likely to occur. Moreover, overdose could occur because of inability of the user to calculate the optimum dose for him while he is “high”.
We have shown at least some serious problems connected to heroin. We believe that there are much more, but we need to move on to our next points.
b. Cocaine, crack cocaine.
Cocaine also causes several harmful effects. It damages brain by taking control over the cells in the “pleasure center” of brain and thus causing high biological addiction towards the drug. It significantly increases blood pressure, heart rate. Could cause strokes, brain seizures, respiratory failure, heart attack, convulsions and death. It also diminishes the desire for sleep and food, thus leading to malnutrition, significant weight loss and the devastation of the user. It also has negative effects on liver, reproductive system, lungs, throat and basically every single organ of the user. Moreover, it causes several mental disorders like increased irritability and anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, depression, non-stop babbling, sleeplessness, chronic fatigue, short tempers, bizarre, aggressiveness, violence, suicidal behavior, delusions, paranoia and hallucinations. [[http://www.drugaddictiontreatment.ca/news.php?include=133996]]
We believe that all these symptoms are enough to regard cocaine as totally unacceptable.
There are some people stating that marijuana in general is not harmful. May be it is the least harmful among all the drugs, but there is still evidence in favor of its harmfulness.
The immediate effect from the usage of marijuana involves increased heartbeat, which leads to heart problems in the future. Intensive usage of marijuana makes a person dull, slow moving and inattentive. It harms memory, reduces concentration, swift reaction, coordination and alters the sense of time. [[http://www.drugaddictiontreatment.ca/marijuana-addiction.html]]
Some studies showed that smoking marijuana is especially harmful for pregnant or breast feeding women, since it could affect their fetus. [[http://www.mydr.com.au/babies-pregnancy/cannabis-pregnancy-and-breast-feeding]]
But the most crucial argument against even such “light” drug as marijuana is that the usage of marijuana leads to the usage of other drugs. It is hard to find a heroin addict who has never smoked weed in his life. Since under the plan all drugs will be legalized there will be no deterring effect to prevent people who started to use less harmful drugs from moving to more harmful ones. Under the status quo less harmful drugs such as marijuana are more available than those like heroin. It is much harder to buy heroin from drug dealer, because it involves more restrictions. This prevents people who tried marijuana from trying other, more harmful, drugs. If we legalize all drugs, this prevention will disappear. By the way the arguments of the government about no harm of marijuana fails here once again, since the usage of marijuana leads to the usage of other drugs, which under the plan will be legal.
2. Harms to society.
a. Crazy behavior of drug addicts.
There were many crimes committed under the influence of drugs, since the usage of drugs puts a person into “another reality”, it makes it impossible for him to behave adequately in the real world. The Office of National Drug Control Policy states several facts supporting the positive correlation between the usage of drugs and committing crimes. In the US the drug test of arrested showed that from 43% in Anchorage to 79% in Philadelphia of male arrestees showed a positive result on the test of the usage of any drugs. [[http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/crime/index.html]]
After the plan is implemented and drugs become legal, the significant increase in the crime rates could follow. There are already some states putting restrictions on the sale of alcohol (like Sweden or Latvia), because they find it easier to restrict such substances rather than deal with the evil consequences. The only reason we can’t put restrictions on all alcohol is because of traditions. Traditionally people got used to alcohol and tobacco so much that the ban of these substances will cause a huge response in public. Fortunately, there is no such traditional dependence on drugs, that’s why it is great that we can ban them. There was an argument from the proposition that such laws allowing alcohol and restricting drugs are “unfair”. We believe that there is no such thing as “fair” or “unfair” relating to drugs and alcohol, and we believe that we should try our best to protect our citizens. If we can’t ban alcohol because of traditions, it doesn’t mean that we should allow also drugs. We believe that we should protect people from as many harmful things as we can.
b. Economic loss.
The social costs of drug use are estimated at 0.2% of Gross National Product in the US. The costs to society of a person with opioid dependency are 45,000$ per year. This includes costs of him not working, but living on social benefits; costs of crimes he commits; and costs of medical treatment he needs when he is under the overdose. [[http://www.santepub-mtl.qc.ca/Publication/pdfppm/ppmapril2005-2.pdf]]
It is clear that economically it is much more beneficial to ban drugs and avoid this loss.
The first argument of the opposition shows that they are trying to alter the debate. The opposition says: ‘We believe that in order to win the debate any side should prove that drugs are harmful / not harmful’. The proposition has never written and we will never state that drugs are not harmful! We cannot debate on this topic because that can be proved only scientifically.
In the beginning of their argument the opposition has once again written that drugs can make people do crazy things. Well, we will once again remind them that alcohol can lead to the same consequences and that partial restriction of selling it will not solve the problem. Therefore, since alcohol is legal drugs should also be legal!
The opposition’s first argument is divided in two – negative effects on health and harms to society. Ok, we can never prove that drugs are not harmful and we will never try to do it. But you can also never prove that alcohol and cigarettes are not harmful. The opposition has offered very interesting facts about the negative effects of drugs on health. We can also show you facts that prove the harm caused by alcohol and cigarettes. But we think it is pointless, because that are well known facts which do not need to be proved. The current debate is about whether the legalization of drugs will bring about more harms or more benefits to the individual and the society. When talking about health problem you agreed in a previous statement of yours that there is not direct correlation between the legalization of drugs and the use of them. Therefore, the consumption of drugs is the same no matter whether drugs will be legal or not. As we said if one wants to have drugs he/she will have it no matter whether drugs will be legal or not.
So here we come to the economic effects of drug trade and consumption. Let us just inform the opposition that the retail market value of illegal drugs is $321.6 billion USD‘[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_economy#Illegal_drugs]]’ You can see the economic losses that are caused by the existing black market. The opposition states that drug addicts are not very beneficial to society. But they also agreed that consumption does not depend on whether drugs are legalized or not. So in both cases these drug addicts will be useless to society. However, as we proved when the black market turns into legal business taxes will be paid to the state. That is why the legalized trade will bring only incomes to the state. So what will be the result of legalizing drugs? Firstly, the same number of people will be drug addicts and thus useless. So the situation remains the same as now. Secondly, the taxes paid for drug trade will increase the incomes to the state’s budget!
Why is it legitimate for the government to ban drugs
Now that we have demonstrated the huge associated with the use of drugs, it is now time to ask a bit more philosophical question – can the government restrict individual choices of its citizens? After all, individuals can derive pleasure out of consuming drugs. We say yes. Bear with us for a while.
Let’s start by recognizing that human beings are quite bad at making decisions. Psychologists and behavioural economists have in many different contexts repeatedly shown that human beings are irrational and often make decisions that lead to outcomes that they did not want in the first place. People are not perfect machines that can evaluate the costs and benefits of every decision – they lack the knowledge, willpower and rational thinking necessary for all of that. These biases make the human beings quite poorly placed to understand what is going on. People do not go to the gym, even though it would pay off in the future. People are too averse to losses to make investment decisions that would benefit them the most – this is the reality of human behaviour.
This is particularly true with drug use. There probably is no other area in life where human beings exhibit behaviour that is so myopic. We see it all the time – individuals constantly underestimate the future costs of trying out drugs. When a human being wants to try out cocaine at a party, he does not consider the addiction or harm on his health that tend to follow. If he would initially be asked, whether he would like to die from an overdose, he would definitely say no. However, his inherent inability to objectively evaluate future consequences does not allow him to make the right decisions.
So why can government rule to limit people from hurting themselves because of their own behaviour? What is so special about it?
We believe that government has better knowledge on what is good for people and what is not. They have doctors, research on the harmful effects of drugs and many other things that an individual would never have access to. It also can, with the help of law, develop rules that lead to the best possible outcomes for the individuals. Only a strict rule, based on the knowledge posessed by the government, can prevent human beings from harming themselves.
We think that, in general, human beings accept their own nature and give the state a right to partially control themselves. In general, the whole point of creating society in the first place is to reap the advantages that would not be available when trying to survive alone. Protecting human beings from their own irrationality is another example of these benefits.
On a final note, we think that the negative spillover effects on the 3rd party caused by the use of drugs is another reason why government is justified to limit individual freedom. We have already demonstrated the possible violent behaviour, strong correlation of crime, spread of diseases and other externalities caused by the consumption of drugs. Even if you do not accept our paternalistic approach to dealing with human irrationality, this alone is a good enough reason to ban drugs.
What we think you are proposing is a unnecessary control of the country over people what basically means that you are forgetting the main human rights we cited you in our arguments. We live in the century of democracy. We are sure you will agree with us that people are well aware of the fact that alcohol and cigarettes are bad for their health. However, they are legal and people have the right to decide whether to buy and use them or not. The same is with drugs. People who have been using drugs illegally will start taking them legally while people who have never taken drugs and are against them will certainly never try them, although they are legal. So the consumption will not rise like an avalanche. It will not rise at all. The only thing that will change is that people who have been considered to be criminals for taking drugs will no longer be considered criminals and that way they could even look for help. Because one of the main reasons for taking drugs is not deriving pleasure from them but escaping from a world which does not understand these people.
The opposition states the people exhibit myopic behavior when taking drugs because it will cause them harm in the future. What about drinking? Are drunken drivers not myopic? Do you think that they are conscious of the consequences that can follow? No, they are not, and they can kill not only themselves but many other people.
It is fundamentally wrong to believe that the government knows what is best for its citizens. Different governments all over the world have made many mistakes and have paid heavily for them! One such mistake is the prohibition of alcohol in the USA in the 20s of the previous century. Did the government at that occasion take the right decision? We do not think so.
To recapitulate, we do not think that government should strict individual choices of its citizens. On the one hand, governments have made many mistakes and will continue to make. On the other hand, we think it is impossible for a government to protect its people from any harm. It is impossible to restrict the cherished freedoms of people in modern democracies because this will threaten the democracy as a system!
Case of legal drugs, drawing analogies.
We believe that the final think we need to do in this debate is to show that, even in a perfectly regulated market, harmful substances can be very dangerous.
In the recent time the amount of deaths from overdose of drugs has been gradually increasing. The pace is amazing. Over the last few years the number of people died from overdose has become 4 to 5 times higher than during the “black tar” heroin epidemics of the 1970s and more than twice what it was during the peak of cocaine-crack outbreak in the early 1990s. Also the profile of people dying from overdose has changed from poor Afro-American youngsters to working white male in their 40s. It is amazing that cocaine, heroin and amphetamines account only for about 39% of these deaths. What is happening then? The research has been conducted to explain this paradigm and it gave striking results.
The huge increase in overdose deaths accounts mostly for prescription drugs. Prescription “painkillers” called opioids like Vicodin OxyCondin or Methadone gained the honorable first place according to statistics. Sedatives like Valium now highly used by many people got the third place in this “people killing” competition. The number of deaths that involved prescription opioid analgesics increased from 2,900 in 1999 to 7,500 in 2004, which in other words in an increase of 160% in just 5 years. However, during the same time rates of overdose deaths from heroin or cocaine remained flat. The reason for these deaths in the first place is the increasing usage of these legal drugs. The country wide research in the US showed the positive correlation between unintentional death from overdose rates and usage of painkillers and sedatives. On the second place is abuse and misuse of these legal drugs. [[http://www.hhs.gov/asl/testify/2008/03/t20080312b.html]]
We live in society where people are constantly overwhelmed with stress and problems. Some people do sports to cope with it, some people like fishing and resting in nature, but some people use sedatives to cope with high pressure or painkillers to cancel their headache. These prescription drugs are legal since they are regarded to be more or less harmful. The evidence we gave show how even these relatively harmless drugs could cause deaths of thousands of people. Illegal drugs are now banned. One of the reasons is that they are more harmful than prescription drugs. The other one is that addiction and tolerance towards them develops very fast. Imagine now the situation after amphetamine, cocaine and heroin are legalized. They all are even better painkillers than prescription drugs and they also all are more addictive. Now people if they want to get a sedative or a painkiller have to see a doctor, explain him their problems, and only then, if the doctor considers it to be worth, they could get a recipe. If the doctor refuses in prescribing a drug, they have to think out a sophisticated way of abusing the system, which could be hard to imagine and implement. Imagine now better and more violent painkillers are legalized. People don’t have to see a doctor anymore to get their recipe. They just go to a supermarket and buy a dose of heroin. It is amazing how it helps to get rid of their headache they think. The next time they have brutal headache they visit the store once again. And after one more they are hooked and have to use heroin just because otherwise their body can’t function. Moreover, tolerance is developed soon. Now they have to buy not a one dose of heroin to feel the effect, but two, three or five times more. In the end police finds them drown in their vomit and report one more heroin overdose death.
Statistics proves that people are very eager on dying from prescription drug overdose even now, although acquiring drugs involves significant costs of going to doctor or abusing a system. If we legalize better painkillers and sedatives, but more violent ones, which are more likely to cause death, we believe that rates of such death cases will skyrocket. Predicting that the proposition could call legal status of prescription drugs and illegal of heroin or cocaine to be unfair, we would like to say that we feel the debate to be more about what is good and what is not, rather than what is fair in relation to evil substances. We would like very much to cancel all death of such kind, but these drugs are necessary for some people. That’s why we strive for stricter regulations and control. If we could alter these deaths at least partially by banning drugs, we go for it.
By the way statistics we have given ruins the argument of forbidden fruit once again. The huge number of deaths from drugs accounts mostly for legal prescription drugs. The increase in these rates accounts for prescription drugs as well with rates of deaths caused by heroin and cocaine remaining flat. The amount of deaths caused by legal drugs is also higher than the amount of deaths during the epidemics of heroin in the 1970s or the outbreak of cocaine-crack in the 1990s. This proves that people chose what is easier to acquire rather than what is forbidden when making a decision. They prefer to go to a doctor and buying a prescription drug, rather than visiting a drug dealer to try out a “forbidden fruit”. This is because going to a doctor is legal and doesn’t involve any consequences if they are caught by police. Also going to a doctor is easier because they could find the address of a hospital in the record book and don’t have to search for it. However, finding a drug dealer involves searching for it and meeting him or visiting certain unpleasant places in unpleasant districts. Thus most of people prefer convenience rather than feelings from trying something forbidden. If you make serious drugs available and easy to buy, people won’t stop consuming them because they are not forbidden any more. A more likely scenario is that they switch to them from prescription drugs and consume more of them, since costs involved in acquiring them (including time and the fact they are breaking the law) fall significantly.
In the very end we would like to note one more mechanism of how legalization leads to an increased consumption. By putting a status “illegal” on something we show that it is potentially harmful and using it could cause serious consequences. Imagine if the state now legalizes drugs, it sends a clear message to public that drugs “are not that bad”. In fact, it puts it even lower than prescription drugs in the list of potential harmfulness, since no regulations were proposed. This shows people that heroin is less harmful than Valium and they start substituting Valium for heroin, since it also helps to calm down.
It is time for the summary speech. So, with this speech we will prove you that the prop team has lost the debate completely and we won. We are going to concentrate on 4 main clash points in this debate.
1. Why the proposition has chosen the wrong strategy for winning the debate?
2. Will the legalization of drugs decrease the consumption of them?
3. Does the plan bring more harms or benefits? I.e. how evil are drugs.
4. Is it legitimate for the state to ban the freedom of individuals to do whatever they like?
So, let’s start.
1. Why showing analogies with alcohol to argument the plan was a failure?
The proposition has chosen a “great” strategy for proving their case. Great for us, but miserable for them. They stated that drugs should be legalized because alcohol and tobacco are legal. Then they showed a lot of similarities between drugs and alcohol and told that is unfair when drugs are illegal being in essence similar to alcohol. However, they have never tried to prove WHY substances similar to alcohol should be legal, expect of that it is unfair. Here we see their failure.
We can’t understand how the state could be unfair to evil substances. We believe that the state should protect its citizens from as many harms as it could. We would like to see alcohol banned very much, but the debate is about drugs now, and we wouldn’t like to see them allowed just because they are similar to other legal stuff.
Anyway many states fight with alcohol and tobacco. First of all almost all the states impose a huge tax on alcohol and tobacco to prevent people from consuming it (they keep the price artificially high to make the demand low). Secondly, states impose regulations on the sale of alcohol. It is not sold to minors, because the government believes they are too young to make a proper decision concerning the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. The consumption of these brings the benefits now, but high harms later. The government believes that minors are likely to make irrational and myopic decision concerning this choice and won’t understand that significant price of harmed health will have to be paid in the future. Thirdly, states impose other regulations. For example not selling alcohol from 22.00 to 08.00 in the Baltic States. The proposition could doubt its efficiency, but living in Latvia we have witnessed that it helps. People usually prefer to drink in the evening after work. Buying alcohol in advance during the daytime involves inconvenience, and many people simply forget to do it. Thus some of the potential drinkers either don’t drink or have to go to the bar and pay high prices, thus to drink less. This makes all the society to consume less alcohol. Sweden is another example of a state where the sale of alcohol is regulated. There the government owns the monopoly on the sale of alcohol to protect its citizens from consuming too much. Russian government has agreed that alcoholism is one the most important threats they face now, and started huge campaigns to prevent the degradation of the nation.
Finally it is worth noting here that drug-liberal Netherlands has stepped back and banned the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms after several incidents. To sum up this means that almost all countries in the world are trying to prevent people from consuming alcohol, drugs or tobacco. Many states are fighting with alcohol. The Netherlands has stepped back in their liberal policy towards drugs. That’s why just showing similarities of drugs and alcohol is not the way to win the debate. We want alcohol to be banned as well. Please, give me the real reason why should drugs be legalized. Also it is not very clever to ignore the experience of other states such as those that fight with alcohol after it being legal for many years, and the Netherlands that banned hallucinogenic mushrooms. This implies that there have been some reasons for such bills passed all over the world. The only reason we could think of is that the government has understood that allowing people to chose for themselves in some cases won’t do anything good. That’s why they want to fight against all the evil substances now.
In the end, just to mention briefly. Drugs are not that similar to alcohol. Drugs are more addictive and harmful, it is true and every doctor will agree on it. It is ridiculous to say that heroin is more harmless than alcohol and showing the statistics in absolute values. Guys go and learn some basic statistics not to humiliate yourselves! To say whether heroin is more or less harmful than alcohol you need to have the average rates of deaths or other incidents on one drug or alcohol user. Otherwise statistics is useless because alcohol is consumed by much more people. If now there are high rates of traffic accidents caused by drunk driver, after the plan is implemented there will a lot more accidents caused by drivers while being “high”.
2. Will the decriminalization of drugs lead to lower consumption? I.e. once again about the forbidden fruit.
Dear proposition, quoting the Bible won’t do anything good, since we don’t believe in those stories. We could quote cartoons of Mickey Mouse and in a sense of scientific reliability it will be at the same level with the Bible.
The proposition has an interesting idea that things that are illegal are consumed more than if they were legal. May be a feeling of coolness from breaking a law adds a little to the satisfaction from using drugs. However, we see some stronger forces involved in this process. People when making decisions often consider costs and benefits of any particular choice they make. When drugs are illegal buying them involves costs of breaking the law and being prosecuted afterwards. Also potential purchasers have to search for a drug dealer who cannot be found by simply opening the address book. These costs prevent many people from buying drugs we believe. Now the government wants to take away all these costs and somehow they think that this will decrease the consumption. Absurd!
By the way the fact that now people consume more alcohol than drugs shows that this argument fails. According to the proposition’s logic people should consume more of banned things rather than legal ones. However, we don’t see this in the reality.
The case of the Netherlands doesn’t work very well too. First the lower consumption of drugs there could be advocated by other reasons. One more poor usage of statistics. You need to have time series in the Netherlands before the legalization of drugs and after it to draw any viable conclusions. Secondly, the consumption in the Netherlands is still higher than in other countries, and we see no reason why to compare it with the USA and not to compare it with let’s say Sweden. Unfortunately, we can’t compare the rate in the Netherlands with other countries, because the proposition just stated this absurd statistics and didn’t give us any reference. Thirdly, the Netherlands are now stepping back from drug-liberalization as we already told, which implies the fail of this example once again.
On the other hand, with our argument about prescription drugs we have shown that people are very eager on killing themselves with whatever is allowed. Thus legalizing drugs will give a new massive instrument of self-destruction.
3. Will the plan bring benefits or harms?
Ok, we have already agreed that the consumption will rise. But maybe there are still benefits from drugs, which could still advocate the legalization of them. Unfortunately, the proposition hasn’t named any single one except of the decreased black market argument.
We wonder whether the proposition really believes things they are saying. They advocate the legalization of drugs and thus allowing people to kill themselves with them by saying that this will diminish the organized crime and bring some tax revenues to the state budget. First we believe that the same people that are earning money on this market now will remain in the market. And the plan will make their life significantly easier. They will have to pay only taxes and won’t have to worry about smuggling, drug dealing, paying bribes to the police etc. This will make them to concentrate all their effort on effective drug selling and make them prosper. So if they finance any other illegal activities by their drug revenues, they will continue to do it. We don’t understand how “theft” will disappear. If a person doesn’t have enough money to buy a dose, he will steal no matter whether drugs are legal or illegal. We see enough of alcoholics stealing money to buy vodka, this will be the case with drugs too.
Then we also proposed an idea that the black market could remain together with the legal one. There is still a black market for alcohol, tobacco and guns, although these are legal. Why is it so? The proposition has never dealt with this idea. We proposed a reason that the government has to tax things as alcohol and tobacco high to compensate for the loss caused to society by consuming them. This keeps a price on them high. However, on a black market where people don’t pay taxes, these things could be sold for a far lower price. This makes smuggling alcohol and tobacco, and then retailing it on the black market one of the most prosperous businesses crime syndicates could do.
If the government will keep the price low, they will increase the consumption of drugs. The basic laws of Economics still work. The lower the price – the higher the demand. Thus more people will kill themselves with drugs. But now there will even be no money collected in the form of taxes to offset these losses. That’s why in both cases when the price is high or when it is low the plan fails. Either the black market remains or the consumption sky rockets.
We agree that certain regulations could make drugs safer and purer. If now people are dying from drugs of good quality and of bad quality, after the plan is implemented, people will start dying from just the drugs of good quality, but at a higher rate. This is what’s going to happen. We would like no one to be dying from drugs, and this is the reason why we want them to be banned. Our example of legal medicine overdose deaths showed that people are dying even from something of good quality, pure and relatively harmless. That’s why this argument doesn’t stand. We would like people not to be dying at all.
We have shown you many harms from using drugs such as direct harms to physical and mental health and harms to society. We believe that these are legitimate reasons to think that drugs are harmful and thus we could ban them. That leads me to the next point of individual freedom.
4. Why we can ban some of the freedoms?
So this point of freedom was defended by the proposition simply by showing us the declaration of human rights. It is absurd to believe that this declaration is binding on all freedoms and that people are really free to do whatever they want. We are not free to walk nude in public in most of the countries. The idea of the state is that people give away some rights to protect the others. People give away the freedom to shout loud in public, since it could harm the others. People give away the freedom not to pay taxes, since they have to pay for public goods and make social contributions to receive their retirement benefit later (by the way this is a classic example of how the state sometimes is legitimate to deal with myopic behavior). So people give away some freedoms, but instead they gain the protection of other rights. For example people gain the protection for their property rights. The state protects their property and it also has an enforcement mechanism so that no one could take over anyone’s property. That’s why the right of freedom is not ultimate and every separate case should be considered separately.
Since people are too myopic in their behavior sometimes it is the burden of state to protect them. Drugs are too harmful and they kill a person over a very little period of time. They also cause fast addiction. Moreover, people under the influence of drugs can’t behave adequately. The decision to try a drug involves instant great benefits in forms of better mood and great feeling of pleasure and distant future harms with a certain probability. This is the classical case when people could behave myopic. In such a case it is a burden of state to prevent this from happening. Otherwise, our whole society will deteriorate and collapse. One example of how the state deals with myopic behavior is paying social contributions and receiving a retirement benefit afterwards. People value consumption now much more than in the distant future. That’s why they tend not to save money for their elderly. It is not the best society where all people that stopped working become trumps instantly, since they have no savings. That’s why the state intervenes. In fact, it forces people to save money.
Moreover, third party harm exists in the usage of drugs. First the usage of drugs degrades society overall, which harms not only drug users. Secondly, the more people use drugs and more legal they are the higher the pressure on non-drug addict is. Since the state makes them legal, it sends a public message that “drugs are not that bad, so try them”. We see it as a great harm.
For all these reasons we are proud to stand in the opposition! Thank you for your attention!