In this modern progressive culture that is ever developing in America, there are constant tensions between interpretations of ethical issues. One of the major issues today Is the movement to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. I would like to present some of the reasons that people encourage its partial and/or complete acceptance. Here are five of the top reasons that people might give for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana:
1. It is a more safe and natural pain reliever than most prescribed pain relievers.
2. People don’t harm themselves or others due to being high on marijuana.
3. Alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous, yet they are legal.
4. Selling marijuana locally reduces the business of the drug cartels, putting more revenue in the hands of the local communities.
5. It is every person’s right to decide what to put in his or her own body.
Now for brief responses to each of these:
1. It may be and effective pain reliever for certain types of ailments. But let’s be honest; that’s not why the majority of the population wants it legalized. If it can be used as an effective pain reliever, then it should be prescribed carefully as a controlled substance – as we do with opiates. But the medical research is still in its infancy and stages regarding this.
2. The claim that nobody drives recklessly or commits serious crimes based on marijuana usage is misleading. The police don’t instantly check for active THC in the system the way they check for alcohol in the system. Therefore, alcohol has been blamed. But, when taken in conjunction, marijuana and alcohol greatly enhance each other. The claim is also speculative and hopeful; I have heard stories of fatal car accidents directly due to being high on pot. Additionally, crimes committed due to withdrawals may also be attributed to marijuana usage.
3. The evidence seems quite conclusive that alcohol and cigarettes have caused far more damage to the human body than marijuana. Does this mean that we should legalize another slightly dangerous drug? Must we set our standard for legalization based on the number of alcohol related incidents? Should we base it on the amount of bodily damage that cigarettes can cause? Alcohol should be legal because there is an amount that can be used without it having and affect. Going above this amount is often illegal – and entirely unethical from a Christian standpoint. But there is no amount of pot that can be used recreationally that can be considered a responsible amount; the high basically takes effect immediately. As for its comparison to cigarettes: there is no way that our modern FDA and health regulators would ever pass the selling of cigarettes if it was proposed today. Saying that marijuana should be legal based on the poor decision to legalize something else is a very weak argument.
4. Celebrating the possible revenues seems to be a little beside the point. Harshly fining people for usage can bring in revenues also. Hey, if it’s about bringing in revenues, why not? Drug cartels will still have their jobs – and possibly more so if marijuana is a gateway drug for many. If we really want to get rid of the drug cartels, shouldn’t we just go ahead and legalize everything?
5. Ultimately, it does come down to the person’s individual choice concerning what to put in his or her own body. But the individuals, the laws, and the culture can encourage the best possible decisions in this regard. We would be unethical as a culture if we promoted the use of something that ended up diminishing the dignity of a person. If it is each person’s decision regarding what to put in their own body, then should we do away with programs that seek to assist people to overcome terrible habits? No, and in the same way we can do more to stop the issue at the door.
This is just a little bit of the defense regarding some of the most popular claims regarding the promotion of fully legal marijuana usage. Since so much is left unaddressed, I plan on following up with a Christian philosophical perspective and the biblical perspective.