Research Paper: Medical Marijuana and Civil Liberties

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[. . .] The concept of preserving civil liberties is entirely dependent on the collective recognition that such liberties do indeed exist, and yet government policy on marijuana use in many instances simply omits this crucial recognition of individual rights, enforcing baseless bans on growth, use and distribution simply out of habit. One of the long pondered debates among political philosophers concerns the state of nature concept underlying much of social contract theory, with the esoteric term being used to describe the hypothetical human condition which logically preceded the institution of organized government. Engaging in a rigorous deconstruction of this hypothetical condition, one defined by a societal structure in which man's rights are not protected by the power of the state, provided political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke with ample opportunity to indulge their faculties for elevated thought, with Hobbes's Leviathan and Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government standing as enduring testaments to this philosophical conundrum. Both Hobbes and Locke applied clinical logic and objective analysis, diffused through their distinctly disparate worldviews, to elucidate stirring but separate visions of the state of nature and man's place within it. Whereas Hobbes grounded his writing on the state of nature in a pragmatic appraisal of humanity's craven nature, Locke viewed the notion as the embodiment of man's promise and potential. A critical analysis of the works of Hobbes and Locke can be used to refine one's own conception of the state of nature, because each philosopher offered a uniquely informed perspective on a query which is common to all of us.

According to Gregory S. Kavka's comprehensive essay examining Hobbes and the state of nature, entitled Hobbes's War of All Against All, the philosopher believed "that people living in a state of nature, without a common power over them to keep them in awe, are in a state of war of every person against every other."10 The concept of conflict is essential to Hobbes's work on the subject, because in the words of his most infamous indictment of the state of nature, the furnishing of unadulterated liberty inevitably results in a life that is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."11 Hobbes is primarily concerned with the consequences to be delivered from an existence ungoverned by a higher authority, and in his estimation mankind's shared reverence for artificially installed states and governments is suggestive of an instinctual rejection of the state of nature. For Hobbes, man's natural state of existence is the one which he has created for himself, one defined by the mutual contracts entered into for the sake of societal structure, and the state of nature is at best a curious relic of our primal nature.

The second chapter of Locke's Second Treatise opens with the author asking his reader to "consider what state men are naturally in,"12 and it is through this intriguing invitation that his discourse on the state of nature begins. Locke goes on to explicitly define the state of nature, stating unequivocally that "want of a common judge with authority, puts all men in a state of nature" while "men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth,

10. Gregory S. Kavka. "Hobbes' War of All Against All." In: Morris, Christopher W., ed. "The

Social Contract Theorists: Critical Essays on Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau." Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, (2000): 1-22.

11. Simmons, A. John. (1999). "Locke's State of Nature." In: Morris, Christopher W., ed. "The

Social Contract Theorists: Critical Essays on Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau." Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, (2000): 97-120.

12. Ibid., 98.

with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature,"13 and it is the idea of reason which is central to his argument. According to Locke, man's ability to apply reason and logic to the chaos of the natural world separates our species from the beasts, and in his view the replacement of governmental authority with pure reason would form an idyllic existence where neighbor respected neighbor and nobody was forced to starve in the name of scarcity. In a recent scholarly article entitled Freedom and the State, politics professor Ghia Nodia remarked on this departure from Hobbes's construction of the state of nature, observing that "according to Locke, handing over one's natural rights in order to join the state does not buy greater security: On the contrary, life under a tyrant is actually less secure than life in the state of nature."14

13. Ibid., 100.

14. Nodia, Gina. "Freedom and the State." Journal of Democracy 21, no. 1 (2010): 138.

Bibliography

Consroe, Paul., Russell Musty, Jennifer Rein, William Tillery and Reginald Pertwee. "The perceived effects of smoked cannabis on patients with multiple sclerosis." European Neurology 38, no. 1 (1997): 44-48.

Frank, Jackie. "Marijuana use rising in U.S., national survey shows." Reuters, September 08,

2011, U.S. section, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/08/usa-drugs-idUSN1E7870N520110908 (accessed March 4, 2014).

Hall, Wayne, Louisa Degenhardt and Michael Lynskey. "The health and psychological effects of cannabis use." Manuscript submitted for publication, National Drug and Alcohol

Research Centre, University of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia. Monograph Series No. 44 (2001): 1-182.

Kavka, Gregory S. "Hobbes' War of All Against All." In: Morris, Christopher W., ed. "The

Social Contract Theorists: Critical Essays on Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau." Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, (2000): 1-244.

McCabe, Sean Esteban, Michele Morales, James A. Cranford, Jorge Delva, Melnee D.

McPherson, and Carol J. Boyd. "Race/ethnicity and gender differences in drug use and abuse among college students." Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse 6, no. 2 (2007):

75-95.

Nodia, Gina. "Freedom and the State." Journal of Democracy 21, no. 1 (2010): 136-143.

Olsen, Sherri A. "A review of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by people with multiple sclerosis." Occupational Therapy International 16, no. 1 (2009): 57-70.

Pope, Harrison G., and Deborah Yurgelun-Todd. "The residual cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use in college students." The Journal of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Medical Marijuana and Civil Liberties."  Essaytown.com.  March 7, 2014.  Accessed April 25, 2019.
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