More and more states across the nation are legalizing some uses of marijuana. A variety of messages come from the media, the Drug Enforcement Agency, Christian groups and actual users. The editorial board has chosen to outline the pros and cons of the argument, allowing readers to consider opposing viewpoints on the issue and come to their own decisions. Corresponding Editorial may be found here.
The American government is not an institution that exists to promote the ideologies of any single group. It exists to “secure the blessings of liberty” and ensure all people have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Anything that doesn’t infringe on the basic rights of another human being should be legally permitted.
When the government enforces a particular group’s standard of morality on the rest of the nation, it fails to live up to the standards established in the Constitution andÂ upon which this country was founded.
This is why the government should legalize marijuana.
In 1920, the government banned the sale, transportation and consumption of alcohol in the U.S. As it turned out, prohibition did not solve any problems. Instead, as John D. Rockefeller Jr., noted at the time, “respect for the law has been greatly lessened, and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”
Likewise, the current laws that make the possession and use of marijuana illegal have done little to curtail its presence. Marijuana usage nationwide has been on the rise since 1995, according to government surveys.
This isn’t to say the dangers of marijuana use should be overlooked; it is, after all, an impairing substance. At the same time, multiple studies have shown the long-term usage of THC (the most abundant drug in marijuana) to be less harmful to the human body than prolonged use of alcohol or tobacco, both legally-controlled substances.
If marijuana was legalized, the government would be able to tax marijuana sales, which could boost the economy. The legalized vending of marijuana would also create job for producers and sellers.
As a legal drug, the government would be able to set standards for the herb, ensuring a safer, cleaner product than what is often sold illegally. The government could also set parameters on marijuana-use that would be similar to laws concerning alcohol and tobacco. These would include setting age limits, restricting usage to private settings and outlawing driving while under the influence of marijuana.
As with the end of Prohibition, the legalization of marijuana would probably not cause a dramatic increase in the number of users. Marijuana would be a personal choice,Â like drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco.
In a private, controlled setting, there is nothing in marijuana usage that directly infringes upon another person’s right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness any more than the controlled use of alcohol or tobacco already do. Smoking marijuana is a personal decision, and the government should acknowledge it as a legitimate one.