Resolved: The United States should significantly reduce the number and severity of laws against recreational drugs

That’s not how our so-called justice system works. If nothing else, our jacked-up “health” system with its ruinous bills requires that deep pockets be found to pay and pay.

White market fentynal is also a damn dangerous drug, which is why people not only have to go to medical school but also specialize and anesthesiologists in order to use it safely. The average person - hell, the average doctor - does not have the education and training to use it safely.

I agree that having legal access to some drugs would help with many of the evils of the status quo, but there are still some substances that are hazardous without highly advanced and specialized training. I can not in good conscience support legalizing them for what is essentially over the counter purchase.

And your intuition is false if you somehow think that inhaling burning smoke from a doobie isn’t screwing up people’s lungs. Second hand smoke of ANY sort is a bad thing, and hazardous to bystanders, particularly those with any sort of respiratory issue. Also, second hand weed can cause a contact high which can screw up the response time and performance of anyone exposed to it - do you want a bus driver or pilot with a contact high in charge of YOUR safety? I sure as hell don’t. As I said - stop pretending your drug of choice is entirely harmless.

Not nearly - cocaine and meth can kill on the first go-around, alcohol isn’t in that league. Again, stop trying to demonize alcohol in an attempt to get your choice legalized.

Heroin is also very harmful, sorry if you’ve been duped on that. All the opiates are at least as dangerous as ethanol. You want to legalize opiates? OK - but anyone caught even one driving or operating heavy machinery under the influence goes to jail, and is banned from driving/etc. for life. I’ll even agree to the same for alcohol if you like.

I’m OK with people altering their mental status where they won’t hurt anyone else. I am also VERY opposed to them putting anyone else at risk.

No, really, it’s just a matter of passing a law and indemnifying the participants. My entire state just indemnified every single place of business against any harm arising from COVID. Legislation can indemnify anyone for any reason it deems necessary.

I will reiterate that if people could get heroin by prescription, a much less harmful arrangement, then nobody would even attempt to use fentanyl. Fentanyl is nobody’s first choice of drug. They access it because it’s a powerful and cheaply made heroin substitute that state actors are flooding the market with. They kill themselves with it because this situation results in unmetered and unregulated use.

And the criminalization of heroin is entirely, 100% to blame for this situation.

Did I say that? Can you perhaps point out and underline the graf where I made that argument?

It sounds like your’e consuming middle-school propaganda from 1985 here. No, cocaine and meth don’t cause instantaneous death (unless it’s cut with adulterants, which legalization would eliminate). Yes, alcohol absolutely can kill people in one go, perhaps you’ve heard of alcohol poisoning or drunk driving?

Please point to the graf where I said heroin is harmless. You will not, because I never said or even implied that.

Well, this has been a very dishonest exchange. Get back to me when you’re ready to engage with things I said rather than the strawmen inside your head, or stuff you learned from 8th-grade health class.

In the states where cannabis is wide open legal, the laws are written just the same as booze. You cannot just sit on a park bench knocking back shots or sucking on a 40, you cannot light a cigarette in many public places (even vapes are highly restricted), and you cannot smoke your doob just anywhere you feel like it. So just bury that BS.

HMS won all the points.

Really Broomstick, you should concede now.

It sounds like you assume every violent offender has a mental problem. Domestic abusers typically do not; there is no psychological “fix” for them.

Right, that’s why bars aren’t ever held liable for serving drunks who then go out and commit crimes and kill people - oh, wait… There’s a definite incentive for society to protect business from liability for covid, but keeping people liable for the consequences of serving alcohol doesn’t have the same panache. Sure, a law could be passed but it’s not going to be, because there’s money in holding servers liable for what those consuming drugs do later.

Funny - I’ve heard the exact same argument about heroin - that it was only used because opium was outlawed. (Which, by the way, is untrue - time was both were over-the-counter freely available)

It’s like saying no one would drink Everclear if beer and wine were freely available. Heck, I once knew a drunk whose drink of choice was rubbing alcohol - cheap as hell, free when he could shoplift it. I guess that could have been prevented by giving away beer?

The average user will stick to less powerful intoxicants, but addicts are a whole different matter. The fact people will abuse just about anything isn’t, to my mind, a valid argument for outlawing everything. We used to have a situation where everything was legal. It started having bad consequences, that’s why regulation was put into place. Turns out regulation has problems, too. How about we try moderating both approaches into a middle road that maximizes the positives of both approaches and minimizes their negatives? How about we treat addiction as a medical problem rather than a moral failing or a crime? But to do that you have to admit addiction exists and not everyone can handle intoxicants.

Yes, yes they can kill you and I didn’t say “instantaneous”. People with heart problems - which they may or may not be aware they have - can definitely be killed by cocaine. Heart rhythm disruption being one of the mechanism, Len Bias being one of the best known examples of such a death. Cocaine also raises blood pressure, which if you already have high blood pressure to start with can lead to a stroke. Or kidney damage over a period of time.

Absolutely adulterants cause further problems, but cocaine in and of itself definitely can cause harm or kill someone. The fact that it’s usually connected with an underlying medical problem doesn’t mean a lot - MANY people have underlying medical probably that they might or might not be aware of. Vulnerability to heart arrhythmia is one of those problems that young and apparently healthy young people can have and be totally unaware of having - it’s why once or twice a year you hear about some young athlete dropping dead on the playing field.

And it’s a shame that cocaine has largely become criminalized - it does work well as an anesthetic and used to be preferred for facial surgery because it not only numbs pain but reduces bleeding at the same time. Because of the War on Drugs, though, it’s become too much of a hassle so facial surgeons these days have to use multiple other drugs to get the same effect.

I also think something like coca tea would be no more harmful than C. sinensis or coffee. But the difference between coca tea and cocaine is the difference between a cup of coffee and pure refine caffeine - which has also killed people.

I’m sorry you’re having problems with someone with a different viewpoint from yourself. This is Great Debates, not Intoxicant Fan Club. I’m taking the position that some regulation is necessary. I would reserve this for highly concentrated, highly refined intoxicants: refined cocaine as opposed to coca tea as an example.

I don’t know why you call it BS - I absolutely approve of those laws regulating legal cannabis the same as legal booze. It reduces the harm of the intoxicants, keeping the effects (of any sort) with the user and not affecting those around the user.

Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember when every interior space was filled with a blue haze from cigarettes and you were considered weird for not wanting people to smoke when they visited you in your own home, or intolerant because you didn’t have ashtrays to put out for the nicotine addicts who demanded the right to pollute the air you were breathing.

If alcohol is one of the most damaging drugs in our society it’s because it is legal and available so a LOT of people use it. Legalizing an intoxicant means more people will use it, and the negatives consequences of that use will also go up. Recognizing that is not being a prude or a teetotaler, it’s facing reality. If you legalize weed you will have a certain number of people who get into trouble using it, whether that’s losing all ambition, getting hurt because they’re in a situation where reaction time matters, or just spending the rent money on weed instead of rent. Rinse and repeat for any intoxicant you care to name.

That depends on how you define a “mental problem”. But I am a believer that some crimes are deserving of punishment via incarceration, regardless of whether the offender can be rehabilitated or not. In other words the purpose of such punishment is not to be corrective but as vengeance. No torture, nothing cruel or unusual, but if (generic) you have fucked up someone else’s life, then some sort of punishment is warranted.

Wow, you sure disproved the thing that I didn’t say. Great job doing that. Again.

No, it’s not like saying that. It’s like saying that people don’t drink antifreeze when they can get alcohol (true). People know fentanyl is dangerously overpowered, and it’s known to be a qualitatively less satisfying experience, so addicts do not seek it out when alternatives are available. This is true of opiates, but cocaine and alcohol is a different matter.

You definitely did say “killing someone on the first go-round”, and I don’t care to get into whether that means “instantaneous.” The fact that you had to dig all the way back to Len Bias (as expected) should tell you how rare it actually is. And the fact that cocaine is illegal should always shed doubt on exactly what substances were ingested in the high-profile media stories. Are we sure we know what Len Bias took, or just that there was some cocaine in his system?

This is not facing reality, this is substituting your own intuition for scientific research on an area that you clearly lack the background and life experience to deal with.

I’m sorry this is the best zinger you could come up with, and I’m sorry you think that your ad-hominems and untutored generalizations are an acceptable substitute for substantive debate.

I’m not just debating you, I’m debating the topic in general. When did this thread become all about you?

Untrue. There are people who drink antifreeze, in fact, there was a thread by a Doper (since sent to the cornfield) describing exactly that: drinking antifreeze. Even though there are probably easier and more certain ways to kill yourself, people still choose poisons.

But we aren’t talking about suicide attempts here, are we?

People make some pretty poor choices in life sometimes. A person might start with abusing codeine cough syrup, then move to heroin when that’s not enough anymore. I’m pretty sure Michael Jackson didn’t start with a combination of propofol, benzodiazepene, and versed to get to sleep but that’s what killed him in the end. And Jackson’s supply was legally obtained with the help of a medical doctor so you can attribute his death to contaminants in the drugs.

It’s a feature of people with a substance abuse problem that they seek out more and more powerful drugs, they mix drugs, and when they’re high they make poor choices.

As I said - I’m OK with legalizing quite a bit of stuff, but I am against use that puts other people at risk and I think there are some drugs that can’t be handled by the average person because the average person doesn’t have either the knowledge base or the equipment to handle the effects and mitigate harm. Anesthetic agents definitely would fall under that - and fentanyl is one of them, as is propofol.

I “dug back” to Len Bias because people have actually heard of him and it’s possible for you to independently confirm or refute anything I say about him. There have been many other people who died in a similar manner but saying “Hey, two years about Tobias Smith of St. John, Indiana died from snorting cocaine” is only going to generate “who?”

Based on the coroner’s report the only drug in Bias’ system was cocaine - no alcohol, no other substances. So it’s not just a matter of the media running away with a headline, his death was investigated medically.

Yes, we’re sure what was in Len Bias at the time of his death. We’re sure what killed him. Too much cocaine. Now, there were other people in the room also indulging, and they all survived - good for them. Was it because they used less, or was that because Bias was more prone to heart arrhythmia? No way to know that, but it’s a clear demonstration that yes, recreational cocaine use can kill.

Actually, I have four years in the drug treatment and rehabilitation industry as “life experience”. It’s not always about the drug being illegal, or the crap that gets mixed in with street drugs (there are many addicts who only ever use legally produced drugs with known purity and no contaminants). Making everything legal is not going to magically eliminate the problems of addiction.

The rationale behind repealing alcohol Prohibition was that the ills created by making a desired substance illegal and the social and legal fallout from that was greater than the harm done when the substance was legal. Either way, there are harms, the question is which set are you going to choose and/or which set is least harmful overall.

This article is a start on learning about the effects of Prohibition. Initially, consumption fell to one third its prior level so it was definitely effective in getting people to drink less booze. As the black market matured the alcohol consumption went up, which isn’t that dissimilar from what we’ve seen from outlawing other intoxicants. The medical effects of alcohol dropped as well.

On the negative side, crime went up and people who had problems with alcohol found it a lot harder to get help. Again, there are some parallels here.

If we legalize pot consumption is going to go up. Take myself, for instance - I have never used marijuana because it’s illegal (I’m weird in only using legal intoxicants, I guess). But if I was in a place where it was legal (not, currently, the state in which I live and work) I would certainly be open to trying it. Making it legal lowers the barriers to use in any form. That’s not an inherently bad thing, but even if the percentage of problem users doesn’t go up the fact more people in absolute numbers will increase means the absolute numbers of abusers/addicts/problems will also go up. As someone who has seen first hand the damage addiction causes - not recreational use, but problem use -and as someone who has long advocated treatment over incarceration, to the point of working at a clinic for four years not just as a volunteer but as the way I made my living, I really, really want society to be ready to help these people. Maybe they have a mental illness and they’re self-medicating. Maybe they are in a state of despair and self-medicating. Maybe their bodies handle certain chemicals differently and that contributes to their problems controlling their drug use. Maybe they developed a physical dependency on something and need help fixing that problem. Maybe there isn’t a clear reason. I still want people helped with their problems.

The crazy thing about your arguments against me is that we actually ARE agreeing with the OP - that the United States should significantly reduce the number and severity of laws against recreational drugs. What we’re really disagreeing on is what a “recreational drug” is. If you want to change those laws in real life you’re going to have to address that definition with something beyond calling your opponents ignorant and lacking in life experience.

This may be a good place to drop this:

Back in 2010 the UK did a study on the harm caused by various drugs. They measured harm to the user and harm to others.

The low end of the scale (safest) has mushrooms and LSD. The high end (least safe) has alcohol, heroin, crack and meth. Cannabis is closer to the least safe end.

Ok, tobacco kills 50000 non-smoking Americans a year. What the holy fuck does marijuana do that measures about that?

Harm to others?

Inhaling burning smoke from any source is bad for you - due to the current US laws studying marijuana in any manner is difficult to impossible so to the best of my knowledge no one has studied the effects of second-hand marijuana smoke on bystanders, but as I said, as a general rule smoke of any sort is bad for your health.

That said, consumers of weed are at higher risk of accidents, which shouldn’t be surprising given it impairs reaction time. For some individuals it increases the risk of symptoms of mental illness which I doubt does those individuals any good. Long term risks include impaired liver function especially in those individuals with a history of hepatitis as well as lung problems in smokers.

Does that equal the destruction caused by tobacco? Probably not - but tobacco use is also far, far more common and widespread. Absolutely zero studies have been done of societies that smoke as much weed and tobacco so who knows?

That is one of the problems with marijuana being a schedule I drug - no one can find out the answers to these questions with real science.

“Contributing to accidents” would be a harm, and could certainly involve harm to others.

“Contributing to bad health” is a likely outcome of second hand smoke, which would be solved by consuming in some manner other than burning it and inhaling the smoke.

“Poor life choices” is another - people who get so dependent on marijuana as to screw up their lives by spending the rent money on it instead of rent, purchasing cheese doodles and chips for dinner instead of healthy food for their families, and the like can impose hardships on their families, as that is a feature of any addiction. Granted, marijuana would seem to be less addicting than, say, heroin, but it’s still an issue. Which is why I am a strong advocate for making rehab services to people with any sort of addiction, as well as advocating for harm reduction where we can’t entirely eliminate such problems.

Can you support that? Because cannabis has been common and widespread for at least more than half a century, even where it was/is illegal, whereas, at present, tobacco use – smoking in particular – has been in steep decline since the late '80s.

Specifically, take a few hits of weed and the effects last for at least an hour, sometimes more, but nicotine has a rather short half-life, so in a very real way, it is a real challenge to assess the prevalence of use based on product sverdrups.

It is close, 14% of American smoke cigs, 12% admit to smoking dope. BUT- I dont know anyone with a two pack a day dope habit. Second hand smoke is a definite killer.

Second hand dope smoke doesnt seem to be a problem- mostly because of the amount smoked. In fact, they did test that and you cant get enuf second hand smoke to chart positive in your average urine drug test.

Smokers cause accidents… and fires.

I am sorry but unless I can find the background and numbers for that study, I am calling bullshit.

You can’t legally smoke cannabis in many areas of the US, still. I’m not aware of smoking weed at work during a break being a common thing where it is legal (maybe it is - I don’t live/work in such a place) I don’t think I’ve met a “causal” cigarette smoker, someone who goes days or weeks in between hits (I have seen that in pipe and cigar smokers, but they’re a small minority). The people I’ve known who toke are much more casual users, most of them don’t partake every day, and of the one or two that do it’s usually once a day. That’s in part because marijuana is not physically addictive as tobacco is. So yes, pot use is widespread but it’s not as intensive as cigarette use. Also:

^ There ya go.

It’s just not many many use, intensity is also a factor.

Now, if/when we legalize pot in my state I expect overall usage to go up because people who have been discouraged by potential legal problems will start indulging. Which I don’t see as a problem. There are probably people out there for whom pot is a better drug of choice than alcohol and if they make the switch we might see less of a problem with alcohol we we all agree carries its own burden of social ills. It might reduce the amount of prescription drugs taken for anxiety. These might turn out to be good for our society (I certainly hope so).

That’s because most people using urine drug tests are using a cheap-ass version of a test that misses a lot. There ARE urine drug tests that will pick it up - we used to use them back at the clinic I worked at. Now, if you just walk by without stopping someone toking outside, no, you’re not going to get an amount sufficient to trigger a test. But if you’re inside at a party for hours with a lot of smoke you certainly could. That’s also why we moved tobacco smoking outside in public places, and I would expect the same rules would apply to marijuana smoking.

Certainly, the states where it has been legalized seem to be managing. There have been some problems with people overdoing it with edibles, but as social knowledge about that method of use increases it will become less of an issue. There is a problem with kids getting ahold of pot gummies and thinking they’re candy, but again, we also get kids landing in the ER because they stole more than a sip out of dad’s liquor cabinet. Hell, we’ve had kids killed because of that stupid-ass “Benadryl challenge” that started going around on Tik-Tok.

Police have reported an increase in impaired driving in and around Colorado, but I’m not aware of any solid studies. There are police departments complaining there isn’t an equivalent of a breathalyzer for pot, but boo-freakin’-hoo, they need to do what they did before we had breathalyzer: field sobriety tests Which are far from perfect and not scientifically calibrated but if you’re took baked to perform a few simple tasks you shouldn’t be driving, doesn’t matter what caused that mental/physical state.

Absolutely, legalizing drugs will eliminate a host of problems - people going blind from bathtub gin pretty much stopped happening after the repeal of Prohibition, for some low-hanging fruit on that issue - but we need to be prepared for the rise of some other troubles. Which I’m convinced are manageable, we just have to be able to accept that legalization won’t solve everything problematic.