SOC120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility
Instructor: Tim Carter
May 19, 2012
Marijuana is considered an illegal drug in most of the states in the U.S. Marijuana is also the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is a dry shredded green and brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. Why is marijuana not legalized? There has been a huge debate over legalizing marijuana for decade. This paper will provide the ethical reasons why legalizing marijuana will benefit our society in a utilitarian view and the relativism stand point behind it.
About fifteen years ago, California and Arizona passed laws by direct ballot initiatives that legalized the production, prescription, sale, and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The moral, legal, and medical issues surrounding this are extensive -- too extensive for a comprehensive treatment here. However, in light of this recent action by these states, there are certain philosophical issues that deserve careful consideration that have not been addressed in the current debates. My primary claim will be that even if one grants that the United States federal government properly has authority over drug legalization and that the government has a significant interest in preventing the recreational use of marijuana, other states should follow Arizona and California in legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana along with its production, distribution, and prescription , as Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia have done since the initial drafting of this paper. (Barnes, 2000) Except for these states under strict guidelines, all nations have laws that prohibit the possession, distribution, and the use of marijuana. Since 1990, nearly 5.9 million Americans people who smoke marijuana pays taxes,...