Ethical Issues of the Legalization of Marijuana SOC120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility The ethical issues that are presented regarding the legalization of marijuana are: Can an action that has no victim be considered a crime? Doesn’t the constitution give us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if marijuana and its effects make one happy, do we not have the right to pursue it? Would legalization truly cause more people to smoke marijuana? Is marijuana truly as “bad” as it is made out to be?
Marijuana being criminalized opens a huge door to the black market enriching criminal activity, does the harm that marijuana may cause to recreational users truly outweigh the presence of an underground marijuana criminal ring? Since marijuana has proven medical uses, can we justly ban it because some people use it for recreational purposes? Isn’t it morally hypocritical for us to legalize and even glorify the recreational use of alcohol and legalize (though not glorify) the use of tobacco, both of which have proven death rates yearly associated with them, yet we oppose the use of marijuana, why the moral inconsistency?
Is it better to create a new taxable revenue by legalizing marijuana to rescue a bankrupt government than it is to maintain our moral opposition of recreational drug use? Utilitarianism, tells us that A natural way to see if an act is the right thing to do (or the wrong thing to do) is to look at its results, or consequences. Utilitarianism argues that, given a set of choices, the act we should choose is that which produces the best results for the greatest number affected by that choice, (Mosser, K. 2010).
Therefore if the most number of people could benefit from the legalization of marijuana then it would resolve the problem of whether or not marijuana should be or should not be legalized for medicinal or any other purposes. Relativism in turn says that if it is right for me, it is ok, if it is right for Florida, it is right for California, if it is right in France, it may be wrong here, but our cultures are different, but as for the United States, it would be that if it is ethical in Alaska, California and 14 other states (http://medicalmarijuana. rocon. org/view. resource. php) it should be accepted in Florida and Kentucky and the remaining 32 states where it is not legalized for any type either recreational or medical use as of yet. Reasons for Legalization of Marijuana Medical marijuana has been proven to have uses for cancer patients, glaucoma patients, nausea from chemotherapy, treatment of anorexia and appetite stimulation for cancer and AIDS patients, muscle spasms, movement disorders, chronic pain syndrome and a long list of other symptoms and ailments.
The National Institute of Health as well as the American Medical Association have both noted and documented the benefits for many of these symptoms and ailments. While only 16 of 50 states have legalized medical marijuana the fight in other states carries on to legalize it. Medical marijuana is a benefit to people and should be legalized for both medicinal and recreational use. Marijuana should be decriminalized for the sake of economic stimulation, its medical uses and to alleviate overcrowding in prisons for mainly victimless crimes.
One patient at 66 was prescribed marinol, a drug that contains the same chemicals as marijuana but is taken in pill form versus smoking the substance. This was done because he had cancer and the nausea and side effects of the chemotherapy were causing him not to be able to eat and hold down his meals. He needed the strength that food and nourishment would provide but had no appetite and when he was able to eat anything he would vomit because of the side effects of the chemotherapy. This man still today at now 74 years of age, swears that had it not been for the marinol he would not have survived the cancer.
He says it is because of the nourishment he was able to keep in his body because of the marinol is what helped him endure the chemo and gave him strength to fight and keep fighting the cancer and allowed him to heal after the tumor was removed. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and medicinal, yet illegal. “Is marijuana safer than alcohol? The short answer is ‘yes,’” said Dr. Mitch Earleywine, a University of Southern California psychologist who is the author of “Understanding Marijuana: A New Look at the Scientific Evidence” nd the just published “Mind-Altering Drugs: The Science of Subjective Experience. ” The evidence is clear, he told DRCNet. “Cannabis has no lethal dose, so you can’t die from it. The impact on the brain structure for cannabis is nil, but there can be very serious brain function changes with alcohol abuse. Also, more dramatic liver functions are impaired with alcohol. Malnutrition, B-vitamin deficiency, and Korsakoff’s Disorder are all linked to alcohol, but not cannabis. ”
It would have been unethical for any medical personnel to deny him that treatment when they knew full well that he would benefit from it. The utilitarianism approach says that if it is good for the majority and does the most good for the most people then it is good and in this case if you took a poll of cancer patients you would find that the majority benefited from its use and therefore it is an ethical choice to legalize it. Relativism tells us that one act may be ethical in one society or culture while completely unethical in another.
While medical and recreational marijuana is readily used and hailed for its benefits in Holland, in the United States there are still 34 states that it is illegal no matter what its intended use and likewise, there are 16 states that recognize its medical uses and have legalized its medicinal use, while others have only decriminalized it, making it just a fine for having it in ones possession rather than sending someone to jail for the day for having it, also are some states such as Kentucky who’s marijuana laws only continue to get stricter and more stringent rather than the opposite as most others are loosening up.
Five states still have ridiculous marijuana policies and they are the five worst to get a possession charge in, they are Florida, Louisiana, Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas. According to NORML (National Organization for Reform Marijuana Laws), no other state routinely punishes minor marijuana possession more severely than the Sunshine State. (John Gettman , NORML Director, 2009). Can an action that mainly has no victims truly be a crime? The main crimes happening due to marijuana usage are possession, for having it, or possession with the intent of distributing it and these fill prisons with arijuana criminals. While there are rapists, killers, child abusers and such being released early for overcrowding reasons, would it not be better to decriminalize something that has no victims so the prisons and jails are not overcrowded and the system could keep those it was designed for incarcerated for the amount of time they deserve. Is it truly a victimless crime, In 1999, 60,000 arrests were made involving marijuana, 90% of those were for possession only, costing taxpayers including, arrests, trials, housing while in jail then prison and the probation after release an estimated 7-10 billion.
The only crime committed there is by the government against the people it has vowed to protect and serve by being so fiscally irresponsible. A study by Jeffery Miron, a Harvard professor said that legalization would save the government 7. 7 billion a year and generate 6. 2 billion in addition to the savings by taxing it at the same rates as tobacco and alcohol. That is a net increase in revenue for a struggling economy, of 13. 9 billion, per year. The drug enforcement agency has a schedule to class drugs with, it is based on the potential for abuse, potential for addiction, and acceptance of its medical use.
While 16 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, it remains a Schedule 1 Controlled substance, the same classification as heroin, morphine and other drugs and higher control than cocaine, or pain medications such hydrocodone & ovycodone; some of the most addictive chemicals available today. This is where one must ask, it is really as bad as all that is said. One cannot argue that crimes committed while under the influence of cocaine are the same as those committed while under the influence of marijuana.
Legalization may bring forth more users of marijuana at first sight, however those that would be thought to not be users such as professionals and health care workers and such, would just be coming forward and using it legally and they would be the ones no one had ever guessed about before. It is not that more people would smoke than before, it is just that yo would know everyone that had already been smoking that one never would have imagined using a “drug”.
The utilitarian approach proves that legalizing marijuana would do the most good for the most people, medical patients with an array of ailments, stimulating the economy, thus giving back to the taxpayer that has been cheated this whole time that the “war on drugs” has included marijuana, prison personnel and victims of the criminals that actually should remain in jail. The utilitarian approach is what should be applied in this matter to less overcrowding issues, help medical users, stimulate the economy and allow people the recreational use of something less harmful than the glass of wine or 3 after work.
References Gerber, Rudolph. (2004) Legalizing Marijuana:Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics Mosser, Kurt. (2010) Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility. http://medicalmarijuana. procon. org/view. resource. php, Retrieved June 6, 2011 www. Norml. com (John Gettman, NORML Director, 2009). Retrieved June 6, 2011 http://www. deadiversion. usdoj. gov/schedules/orangebook/c_cs_alpha. pdf Retrieved June 20, 2011 Commentary: Legalize drugs to stop violence March 24, 2009 By Jeffrey A. Miron, Retrieved June 20, 2011