Legalize Drugs – A Debate from Intelligence Squared U.S. – follow up

This is a debate from November 15th 2012, directly after Washington and Colorado voted to “legalize cannabis”. So here is it 2.5 years after the historical changes in law in these two states, and now not only do we have legalized marijuana in Washington and Colorado, but we also now have Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. that have jumped on board.

This is the description of the video/debate;

Intelligence Squared U.S. Presents “Legalize Drugs” with Paul Butler and Nick Gillespie for the motion, Asa Hutchinson and Theodore Dalrymple against the motion. Moderated by John Donvan.

It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs.” $2.5 trillion dollars later, drug use is half of what it was 30 years ago, and thousands of offenders are successfully diverted to treatment instead of jail. And yet, 22 million Americans-9% of the population-still uses illegal drugs, and with the highest incarceration rate in the world, we continue to fill our prisons with drug offenders. Decimated families and communities are left in the wake. Is it time to legalize drugs or is this a war that we’re winning?

For: Paul Butler
For: Nick Gillespie

For legalization
For legalization
  Paul Butler
  Nick Gillespie

Against; Asa Hutchinson
Against: Theodore Dalrymple

Against Legalization
Against Legalization
  Asa Hutchinson
  Theodore Dalrymple

Here is a link to the video;

I want to dissect this video bit by bit, since we have saw the realizations and addressed the fears and hopes since this change was made.  As of November 15th 2012, we could only speculate.  But in 2015 we can give this a good hard look.

At minute 9:30 former Prosecutor Paul Butler talks about how legalization makes society safer, by not locking up minor drug offenders with hardened criminals, which in turn makes these hardened criminals out of minor drug offenders.

At minute 14:14 Paul Butler talks about how the wars on drugs started, about their racial implications, and about the unfair profiling and sentencing of black youth, despite that black people do not use drugs any more than any other demographic or race.

As a note, I have addressed this topic of the racist drug war, and I have an alternative point of view. ~ Ryan Thompson

At minute 17:25 Asa Hutchinson (former director of the DEA) illustrates the comments of Barack Obama against legalization, and in my opinion further illustrates the hypocrisy of our current president.

Will Obama keep his promises on MMJ
Will Obama keep his promises on MMJ

At minute 23:09 Asa Hutchinson starts his rant on the harmfulness of illegal drugs.   And at minute 23:30 Asa asks if ending prohibition on alcohol increase or decrease alcohol consumption, and illustrates by asking a question (not giving an answer in way of fact), that legalizing alcohol increased addiction at minute 23:44.  He uses examples of Alaska, the Netherlands, etc..

As a note, I wrote an article about the harmfulness of marijuana ~ Ryan Thompson

From the Cato Institute, this is an analysis of alcohol prohibition

Nick Gillespie (editor of Reason Magazine) at minute 27:05 makes the point of showing how much money we have spent on the war on drugs, and comparing how much success it has had.  2.5 trillion dollars spent on the war on drugs, and drug use has barely been dented.

At minute 29:45 Nick addresses how the Portugal has decriminalized drugs, and has saw a decrease in usage, where as the USA has stern drug laws, and a much higher rate of usage than places like the Netherlands, and other places that have decriminalized drug usage.

At minute 46:48 they give a preview of what this system will or could look like in a legal format.

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple  at minute 49:50 reveals that his diagnosis is that addiction is not a medical issue. The good doctor goes on to explain that it is a moral issue and at minute 50:15 that he believes that withdraw symptoms from heroin are not significant but “rather trivial”.

At minute 52:35  Asa Hutchinson makes the point that legalizing drugs will not end crime, and the cartels and criminals will not “go bankrupt” but will find other illegal endeavors to fuel their enterprises.

At minute 53:20 Nick Gillespie makes the point that despite that there will still be crime and a black market, when was the last time we had a shoot out, or a major criminal incident with a alcohol manufacturer since the 21st Amendment ending alcohol prohibition.

At minute 59:40 Nick Gillespie makes the point of which drugs are in high demand, and which drugs are in low demand, and which drugs are most effected by the drug war.  Pointing out that marijuana by in large is the most used of these illegal drugs, and it is practically harmless.

After this there are audience questions, which touch on all of the topics above.

Now for some statistics from last year on the legalization benefits of Colorado’s new marijuana laws.


  1. According to Uniform Crime Reporting data for Denver, there has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from this time last year and a 5.2% drop in violent crime.

  2. The state has garnered over 10 million in taxes from retail sales in the first 4 months. The first 40 million of this tax revenue is earmarked for public schools and infrastructure, as well as for youth educational campaigns about substance use.

  3. There are renewed efforts to study the medical efficacy of marijuana within the state, making Colorado an epicenter for marijuana research.

  4. The marijuana industry has developed quickly, generating thousands of new jobs. It is estimated there are currently about 10,000 people directly involved with this industry, with 1,000 to 2,000 gaining employment in the past few months alone.

  5. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who opposed Amendment 64, recently compared Colorado’s economy since legalization to that of other states by noting, “While the rest of the country’s economy is slowly picking back up, we’re thriving here in Colorado.” For example, the demand for commercial real estate has increased drastically, with houses in the state appreciating up to 8.7 percent in the past year alone.

  6. The voters of Colorado retain an overall positive view of the regulated marijuana market, with 54% of Colorado voters still supporting marijuana legalization and regulation, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

  7. By removing criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related offenses, thousands of individuals will avoid the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record. The state is estimated to potentially save $12-40 million over the span of a year simply by ending arrests for marijuana possession


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