There’s a better approach to the ethics of marijuana legalization than whether it can help the state’s economy. There are many detestable things that could be legalized in order bring in money. In the vein of Immanuel Kant’s thinking, look at things for what they are, not just side-issues that result. Pot-smoking is pot-smoking, not some economic strategy. One does not smoke pot to try to help the economy. This position would say that a business is ethical and successful if, instead of just selling what people crave, it sells what helps people.
I think there is an even better approach for a Christian than the Kantian approach. It deals with who God made us to be and who He is to us. Here is a summary of my take on whether casual or recreational marijuana usage ought to be an option for the Christian.
Instead of relying upon rules based on what makes us feel good in the moment, we are to live our lives according to God’s rules on how to orchestrate our lives.
One of these rules is to be sober-minded. We are to be sober-minded because of the larger principle of being fully reliant on God. Being reliant on God means that we do not need to intentionally alter our state of mind in order to be more content with life. Therefore, being free of marijuana usage will demonstrate that we are living by the highest principle of trusting God in all circumstances for all fulfillment of life. It testifies to the world that our peace comes from God alone, and not from some chemical. We can show that we are content and joyful because of our standing before God, and not because of some deliberate mood-altering drug.
If marijuana creates false feelings and thoughts, then we can rightly call it unfit to be included in the life of the human. The human is to see the world for what it really is. When we reason about reality, we celebrate creation, and honor God.
In sum, it seems to me that the deliberate alteration of one’s mood and/or frame of mind reeks of lack of faith. Faith is supposed to be that substantive process of giving our own passions and will over to God so that He can in turn give us true fulfillment of life.
For the non-theist, there are many things, one of which might be abuse of marijuana, that serve as indicators of the dissatisfaction with the realities of life. This dissatisfaction should drive us toward God instead of toward any of the the numerous numbing substances.
Objection! “Doesn’t the medication that you take change the way that you feel and the way you might think?” It does. But the big difference is whether the chemical/drug draws you toward or away from pure soundness of mind. My medication is carefully taken in order to keep my mind in its best possible state. To do otherwise would be similar to taking a deliberate mind-altering substance.
Objection! “Can’t one use a very small amount, so as to relax and not get high?” Maybe, but every person is an example to others. And you’d be sending the message by your example that “toying with it” is OK. I’m not all about cultural opinion, but we would have to be considerate to the fact that it is a substance associated with getting high. Besides this, to my knowledge, there is very little point without some sort of high.