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The Ethical Issues of Legalizing Marijuana

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The Ethical Issues of Legalizing Marijuana

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Did you know that almost half of the population in the United States belongs in jail, according to the law on marijuana? It’s true. In 2008 Time Magazine reported that researchers had found more than 42% of people surveyed in the United States had tried marijuana at least once (Lynch, 2008). So if marijuana use is so common in the United States, why should it not be legalized? In this paper I will discuss both the supporting and opposing positions on the legalization of marijuana. I will also explore the moral and ethical views for legalizing marijuana.

Utilitarianism is the moral doctrine that we should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions (Shaw & Barry, 62). Many supporters of marijuana would argue that by legalizing marijuana it would reduce the crime rate, which at the end of the day would be better for everyone. Crime and violence are greatly increased due to the illegal selling and buying of marijuana. If we legalized marijuana, it would end the need for such criminal behavior, like marijuana smuggling, distribution, sales, possession and usage. Annually there is approximately 12 billion dollars spent on police officers, DEA, etc., tracking down and punishing marijuana users (Prislac, 2009). This money could be spent on more useful programs, such as Social Security or even more important criminals; terrorists. The opposing side would argue that if we legalized marijuana it would actually increase our crime rate because there would be no regulation. There would be more people out there committing crimes because their judgment is impaired and they could not make rational decisions. One of the biggest arguments against legalizing marijuana is that it impairs one’s judgment, which is often then compared to that of alcohol. The easiest way to compare these two drugs is to look at the amount of fatalities linked to driving under the influence of alcohol to that of...