Class Debate – Drug Legalization

“Ladies and gentlemen, legalization of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin may at first glance feel uncomfortable. It may seem like a dangerous and unsafe policy. The affirmation today will show that the opposite is the case: banning these drugs is the unsafe policy. Because the drug market is illegal, we cannot control or regulate who plays and by what rules. Legalization of hard drugs will eliminate the obscene profits organized crime rackets make from importing and selling cocaine and heroin. It will rid our streets of much of the drug-related crime that plagues our impoverished neighborhoods. Furthermore, it will help reduce budget deficits and prison overcrowding.
The affirmation would like to legalize possession of recreational amounts of Schedule Two drugs like cocaine, heroin, and LSD. To keep corporations and their greed for profits away from these addictive substances, government will Purchase, Regulate, Tax, and Distribute these drugs, similar to the way medical marijuana is distributed now. No drugs will be sold to pregnant women or to persons under 21 years of age. Our current policy is to ban these drugs and imprison anyone who sells or uses them. This War on Drugs, despite costing the taxpayer nearly $40 billion a year, has had a negligible effect on consumption and sale of hard drugs. Our inner cities are full of people selling and using these substances. It is time for government to wake up. Thank you.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Prohibition era of American history was expected to reduce crime and corruption, reduce the number of alcoholics, reduce the number of prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and safety. When Congress banned the sale of alcohol, evangelist Billy Sunday gathered ten thousand people together and proclaimed, “The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and comcribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent.” Unfortunately, Prohibition increased consumption of alcohol, marked the beginning of organized crime, pushed prison systems past their capacities, and deprived the government of a source of revenue. These problems did not go away with the end of Prohibition; they are still here, because of our bans on various other drugs. Addicts commit half of all street crimes today. The Mafia and other organized crime rackets make huge sums from importing and selling cocaine and heroin to addicts. Turf wars erupt over profitable street corners. We ignore, imprison, and impoverish addicts, the people that need our help the most. Legalization would eliminate turf wars and the incentive for crime bosses to import drugs. Government regulation and taxation would make consumption safer for users – remember 35% of new AIDS cases come from illegal drugs. What’s more, we could spend the $40 billion we’re now spending in a drug war on antipoverty and rehabilitation measures. Yes, legalization might increase the number of addicts, but this is not a clear cut conclusion. And if adults want to become addicts, we don’t have the right to stop them. As Milton Friedman said, “Reason with the potential addict, yes. Tell him the consequences, yes. Pray for and with him, yes. But we have no right to use force, directly or indirectly, to prevent a fellow man from committing suicide, let alone from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.” Our attempts to plan society in the 1920’s had miserable consequences, and our attempts now have been about as successful as the Soviet Union. While legalization may be uncomfortable to some, it creates a better situation for the addict, and makes society better off. It is by far the best policy option. Thank you for your time.

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