The Ethics of Marijuana Legalization
Marijuana is one of the most popular drugs in the United States, third only behind tobacco and alcohol. It is estimated that nearly 80 million residents will try it on at least one occasion in their life. A recent survey shows that a quarter of these individuals have dried Marijuana in the last year and that more than half of these users are habitual users. The idea of marijuana use, whether it is for medicinal or recreational purposes is an ethical issue that is often considered by both the government and citizens. In this paper I will speak to the uses, benefits, possible concerns and possible ethical issues that could be created through the legalization of marijuana.
What is marijuana? “Marijuana—often called pot, grass, reefer, weed, herb, Mary Jane, or MJ—is a greenish-gray mixture of the dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of Cannabis sativa—the hemp plant.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2002) Marijuana can be smoked in many different ways. One way is through the rolling of it into cigarette or cigar type wrappers, which are most frequently referred to as joints and blunts. Another way is through a pipe or bong. These can be purchased at any novelty smoke shop. With such easy access to the paraphernalia, its widespread use is not surprising. Other surprising uses are through baking intro foods such as brownies and also using its leaves to make tea. Though marijuana is illegal it is relatively easy to procure no matter where you are.
In certain states there are now medical marijuana licenses which allow people who suffer from certain diseases and pains to legally purchase marijuana for medicinal purposes. This has created an uproar in the community because people can get a license relatively easily. With this being said, it would just be easier to legalize the sale of marijuana and put a heavy sales tax on its purchase as the government has done with cigarettes to deter people from smoking. These same principles could easily be applied to marijuana. The war on drugs has been a cause that though valiant is not actually successful. By legalizing the use of marijuana the government could reduce the cost of drug enforcement and increase the revenue numbers through the taxation of its use. Most believe that by actually legalizing it’s purchase you take half the excitement of the high away because individuals not longer feel rebellious. This was seen during prohibition as well. There was a sharp spike up in alcohol use after prohibition laws were passed because there was a sense of excitement behind doing something considered illegal.
The legalization of marijuana could be significant in a downed economy like we have today. Marijuana has more uses than we see on the surface. Hemp can be used for more than just bracelets and sun tan oils. The oils from hemp can be used as an alternative fuel source and the fibers could be used for products such as clothing and paper. Due to the strength of hemp fibers the clothing and other products would naturally be of a stronger quality than others which would allow products to last longer and do more. Marijuana is also the most widely used recreational drug in America. In the US alone, “marijuana was used by 75.6 percent of current illicit drug users (defined as having used the drug some time in the 30 days before the survey) and was the only drug used by 53.3 percent of them.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2002) The wide use of marijuana has created a large need for dealers and that in turn has cost taxpayers a large amount of money in court fees dealing with individuals who are busted dealing marijuana. These costs to taxpayers would be cut tremendously and would boost the economy through tax on its legal sale. Another important factor in legalizing marijuana is the safety portion associated with its sale. With...