Position, Recommendations, and Argument
Marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the United States. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, 22.2 million used marijuana in the past month. Marijuana is used for recreational and medicinal purposes. However, being an illegal drug, the users including young children below age 21 have accessed it through smugglers and used it. Ideally, the United States government should establish policy reforms to reduce the violent use of the substance. Marijuana should be legalized and regulated like any other drug such as alcohol. A marijuana board should be set up to regulate planting, processing, and sale of the drug as well as the age limits for the users. Also regulation should outline areas where marijuana is sold and smoked to safeguard schools and other public places. Legalizing and regulating marijuana use will allow users enjoy it for recreational and medicinal values and also lead to spillover benefits such as increased revenue, reduced costs of prosecuting marijuana offenders, medicinal value and increase employment opportunities.
Consequentialism is the normative principle to be relied on in supporting the proposed policy. Consequentialism states that when making a moral choice, one should focus on the consequences as a morally justified action is one that maximizes good consequences for others. Therefore, as to whether an act is right or wrong depends on the outcomes (Conly 97) An act is right when it produces maximum good and wrong when it produces maximum pain. A utilitarian approach should be focused when legalizing and regulating marijuana to yield recreational and medicinal value for many users while minimizing costs of illegal and violent use of the drug.
Normative Principle Explained and Defended
The utilitarian form of consequentialism argues that an ethical choice is one that yields the greatest value for a huge number of people. As suggested by Jeremy Bentham, utilitarianism is fundamentally based on utility, the role of pain and pleasure in human life, equating evil with pain and good with pleasure and that pleasure and pain can be quantified.
Utilitarian approach posits that moral worth of an action is determined by its overall contribution to utility (an economic measure of the relative desirability of satisfaction from consumption of goods) in maximizing pleasure or happiness among all the people. When applying this moral theory, the total utility of individuals is necessary and is equated to the greatest pleasure for the largest number of people and the least of pain (Harsanyi 319).
With regard to marijuana, a discussion as to whether it should be legalized should be based on the consideration of its utility (recreational and medicinal value) which brings happiness to millions of people healed, and who derive pleasure from smoking marijuana as contrasted to the pain emanating from denying a ill person a chance to be healed by use of marijuana as well as the negative costs arising from prosecuting marijuana offenders and violent use of the drug. Therefore, utilitarian theory should be used when deciding appropriate policy for marijuana because a decision to legalize it leads to a decision whether to consume it legally or illegally results in utilities (consequences) that need quantification to determine whether pleasure or pain is the greatest to the largest number of people and guide on the best overall decision thereafter.
Application and Empirical Claims
Legalizing marijuana has several benefits to the United State's federal and state governments as well as the citizens in the form of spillovers. Legalizing and regulating the use of marijuana will lead to increased revenue from the state and federal governments in the form of taxes levied on producers, distributors, and retailers. For instance, in Washington, the state government collected a total of $186 million taxes within the first two years of legalizing adult recreational marijuana (Hao et al. 3). The extra revenue can be used to expand education and healthcare for the benefit of the American citizens. Similarly, legalizing and regulating marijuana use will result in a situation where the security departments can save millions of money used in investigating and prosecuting illegal marijuana users. For example, in 2006, a record of 829,625 marijuana arrest was made (Beckett and Herbert 23). It is obvious that security departments will incur the taxpayer millions of money to investigate crimes for these arrests and prosecute them to including incarceration costs all which can be saved by legalizing the drug.
Also, legalizing marijuana allows creates jobs for producers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers leading to a reduction in unemployment index in the country. According to Isa, states that have legalized marijuana post the lowest unemployment indices in California recording the least unemployment rate in the country as a result of increased economic activity after the legalization of marijuana (76).
Also, marijuana has been scientifically proven to have clinical benefits for some illnesses. Marijuana has medicinal value and can be used in pain management, treating chronic symptoms in AIDS patients, reducing chemotherapy side effects and reducing pressure caused by glaucoma among other health benefits (Behere et al 262).
It can be seen that legalizing and regulating marijuana leads to several benefits including saving on legal costs for arresting marijuana offenders thus reducing costs on the taxpayer, earning extra revenue to the government and which can be used to advance citizen's well-being, creation of employment to benefit many American citizens who are unemployed and provide for expanded research and application of marijuana in medical practice. These benefits lead to maximum pleasure or utilities for millions of Americans while resulting in least pain (minimal costs on taxpayers) thus validating the choice of legalizing and regulating marijuana in the country.
Beckett, Katherine, and Steve Herbert. "The consequence and costs of marijuana prohibition." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.(2009). Results from the (2008).
Behere, Aniruddh P., Prakash B. Behere, and TS Sathyanarayana Rao. "Cannabis: Does it have a medicinal value?." Indian journal of psychiatry 59.3 (2017): 262.
Conly, Sarah. "Consequentialism, paternalism, and the value of liberty." The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Paternalism. Routledge, 2018. 95-105.
Hao, Zhuang, and Benjamin Cowan. The cross-border spillover effects of recreational marijuana legalization. No. w23426. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2017.
Harsanyi, John C. "A theory of prudential values and a rule utilitarian theory of morality." Social Choice and Welfare 12.4 (1995): 319-333.
Isa, Nagisa Alan. Legalization of recreational marijuana and its impact on economic activities. Georgetown University, 2017.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH). 2017). What is the scope of marijuana use in the United States. Retrieved on April 23rd, 2018 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/.../marijuana/what-scope-marijuana-use-in-united-states
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