Taking the High Road: the Ethics and Legalization of Marijuana

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Will Matthews III
Professor Thiel
14 November 2012
Taking the High Road: The Ethics and Legalization of Marijuana With the recent passing of laws that legalize the use of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado, there has come a time for reevaluation of the benefits and consequences of the drug, and how legalizing it will affect the nation. Legalizing marijuana, for now, should remain a responsibility of the state governments, and, following the steps of the state of Colorado, be legal only for persons 21 and older. Capitalizing on the demand for this drug has economic benefits for a state, but there is the added benefit of removing paternalistic laws that limit U.S. citizens’ freedom as well. Additionally, it will allow those who suffer chronic pain access to a drug that can help them deal with unimaginable pain. Ideal in theory, there are of course sound arguments to this position, but the predicted consequences of legalizing marijuana are far overshadowed by the benefits.

In the days of prohibition, teetotalers felt accomplished in their efforts in banning alcohol consumption on a federal level, much to the chagrin of adults across the nation who enjoyed a good drink. Once the lame duck amendment abolished its predecessor, governments saw that it could capitalize on the high demand for the substance, and thus heavily taxed it, bringing in substantial revenue. Colorado has similar plans with its legalization of marijuana thanks to the passing to proposition 64. The state stipulated that it will “enact an excise tax of up to 15 percent on wholesale sales of non-medical marijuana, the first $40 million of which will be directed to the state's public school construction fund each year” (Regulate). Alcohol and marijuana can have similar economic benefits, and with states making education cuts, an added source of revenue would be greatly appreciated. Concerns about the general welfare of a state regarding legalizing marijuana have come up...
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