Essay: Marihuana Legalization

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Marijuana

The recent election resulted in a change to the discussion about marijuana, when Washington and Colorado voted to legalize the plant (Smith, 2012). It is time to take this debate nationwide, and address the falsehoods that have led to the futile prohibition of marijuana and the horrible failure that is the war on drugs. I believe the marijuana should be legalized. There are several reasons that I believe this, and put together they form a very strong case. Legalization in this case refers to the legal possession and sale of marijuana, and importation as well, either by consumers is small amounts or by businesses in large amounts. My argument extends to all drugs, but I will focus only of marijuana for the present paper.

On a human, philosophical level, we should all have the freedom to do as we want, as long as we do not cause harm to others. This principle comes from John Stuart Mill in the book on Liberty, and I think it makes an important point about the way we should live our lives. The argument is that restrictions on people result in unhappiness. To be fully happy human beings, we should be able to do as we please. Smoking, growing, or selling marijuana legally are all acts that do not cause harm to others. At worst, the use of marijuana might cause harm to yourself, but I do not believe that it does. Our society and our government should not interfere with the right to be free, as this is a central American value. To violate this central value to prohibit doing something that causes no harm violates the basic rights of human beings to be free, a right that is perhaps the most important reason why the United States of America was created. The war on drugs is a war on personal freedom, and this country is not supposed to wage war on personal freedom (Gordon, 2012).

We can also look to scripture for guidance, if we are concerned about the morals of marijuana. The Bible does not prohibit one from smoking marijuana, the Koran and Torah do not either. Buddhists and Hindus do not prohibit the use of marijuana and in fact many Hindu holy men smoke it regularly. Rastafarianism encourages its use. There is simply no case from a moral perspective in any holy text that would justify the war on drugs and the prohibition on marijuana. There are some religious leaders who are in favor of prohibition of marijuana, but they are not getting their ideas from Scripture (Schabner, 2012).

So we can see that the prohibition of marijuana is not justified on religious grounds, nor on the grounds of human liberty on which the United States was founded. It must serve a useful purpose then? Well, it does not. All it does is fuel an illegal drug industry that kills thousands and incarcerates millions. Criminal gangs are blamed for drugs, but they are simply performing a function that could and should be performed by legitimate businesses. Marijuana is a plant that grows in nature. It can be grown by farmers, harvested by agricultural workers, and sold in normal retailers, even with restricted access although I do not think that fits with the principle of freedom.

The War on Drugs has cost tens of thousands of lives. The strict prohibition on marijuana results in gangs controlling the trade, and they use these profits for guns to defend this lucrative trade. Their only competitive advantage is with their willingness to kill rivals. As a result, there has been upwards of 100,000 deaths in Mexico, and most of these would be on account on the trade in an unadulterated plant. This prohibition has led to lawlessness along the Mexico-U.S. border. U.S. lives are threatened by this, and Mexican lives are lost. It is estimated that 10,800 people have been killed Juarez, south of El Paso, and that many were not even… [END OF PREVIEW]

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