Section One: Explanation of the Ethical Issue
The discussion on marijuana use in the United States has existed for many years, with some section of people supporting its social and medical use while others opposing the use of this drug in public places. As a result of this difference, some sections of the states in the U.S have permitted both medical and recreational use of marijuana while others have still opposed it. Over eight states have permitted and legalized the recreational use of marijuana; this includes Washington D.C (Rochford 2). However, there is still division among many Americans over the ethical decision of whether marijuana should be permitted or legalized for recreational purpose. There has been a debate on issues regarding the use of marijuana that is not purely medical or political. However, each group tends to support their own ideologies; the ethical groups support their ethical beliefs and the religious groups support their religious ideologies. However, despite the difference in religious and ethical schools of thoughts, it is important to look at the greater good that each of these groups advocates for in the discussion and society. Both religious and ethical theorists tend to support better societal behavior and the greater good of the society. Therefore, despite the reason for supporting or opposing the recreational use of marijuana, it should not be taken out of context. Surveys that have been taken in the United States regarding the marijuana use have shown that majority of Americans support the legalization of the drug. Therefore, many Americans face a difficult time making the choice to either allow or oppose the recreational marijuana use in the United States. The next sections of this essay highlight various ethical theories or ideas as well as religious arguments regarding the recreational use of marijuana in the United States.
Section Two: Cultural Relativism Theory
Cultural relativism theorists argue that morality is relative to culture and right and wrong vary depending on the cultural norms in that particular society (Tilley 1). Many people have presumed that what is moral or also legal, but the truth is that these are two different concepts that need to be understood differently as they appear. However, from the broad perspective, it is good ethics that enhances people to abide by the law. However, making a legal policy regarding the use of marijuana does not mean that the moral questions have been answered. America is known for its highest incarceration rate and violence associated with the drug traffickers. All these are societal issues that also present complex ramification on the choice that Americans make. Cultural relativism proponents claim that even though in some cultures some moral choices are considered valid, but no moral judgment is universally accepted (Tilley 5). Therefore, every moral choice is culturally relative. This means that an action or policy can be considered or perceived as right if the actions accord to the cultural norms; that is, it is socially approved by the society. Cultural relativists may think that recreational use of marijuana could be allowed if it accords to the user's cultural norms. I do not agree with the cultural relativism argument on the recreational use of marijuana because America consists of many cultures and if one or two cultures were to approve the use of marijuana because it accords to their norms, it would mislead. I think that universalism could be an alternative to a country like the United States where there are over 300 million people from almost across the world.
Section Three: The Devine Command Theory
Almost all the religious groups have constantly opposed both medical and recreational use of marijuana in the United States. Andy Matarrese highlights some of the religious ideologists that have constantly stood against the use of marijuana. For example, Matthew Altman who is a chairperson of the CWU Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies argues that the use of marijuana can hurt personal relationships (Matarrese 5). However, the detrimental impact does not only revolve around personal and interpersonal relationships; even if it does not affect one's relationship with others, it also allows indulgence in the society. Pastor Don Green from Ellensburg's First Christian Church also argued that most of the modern things do not relate to Godly or Biblical teachings. He further states that human beings are created to be free and to have freedom of choices, but those choices mean that the humans have responsibilities to do the right thing. According to Pastor Don, the use of drugs such as marijuana limits that freedom of choice because it can alter someone's ability to make a judgment. I would agree with the divine command theory that people have the freedom of choices which can be limited by a substance that alters the mind. I believe that every person has a responsibility to make a clear and right decision. Therefore, since taking marijuana is most likely to alter or affect the process of making a clear decision, I support the divine command theory that recreational use of marijuana should not be permitted in the United States.
Section Four: Aristotelian Theory
The Aristotelian theory explains that the aim every action is to do what is good or right (Kucukuysal & Erhan 45). However, the theory also tries to distinguish that even though every action aims at good, there is no single good. According to proponents of this theory, people engage in actions that would make them happy; something that Aristotle called "eudaimonia" or well-being. The Aristotelian theory may not support the recreational use of marijuana because it affects the excellence of the human soul (Kucukuysal & Erhan 46). Kucukuysal and Erhan explain that to better understand the concept of happiness one must consider the nature of virtue because happiness associated with the goodness of virtue. Aristotle highlighted two categories of virtue that can exist; moral and intellectual. The intellectual virtues enable people to think and make decisions rationally. Moral virtues enable people to make choices regarding emotions and desires rationally (Kucukuysal & Erhan 46). Therefore, this theory advocates for any action that would promote the two categories of virtue and rejects that which may influence or inhibit virtuous decisions. Marijuana use is known to affect the human mind no matter how little it may be taken. Rochford argues that no matter how minimal it used, marijuana has been demonstrated to affect the brain function (Para 16). This means that someone may not be able to make rational decisions while using marijuana. I support this argument because the effects of marijuana on the human brain have been done many times and it is impossible to ignore the deleterious ramifications associated with the drug especially when it comes to decision making.
Section Five: Utilitarianism Theory
Utilitarianism theory of ethics explains that to determine whether an action is right or wrong is to look at the results or outcome. This theory focuses on the consequences presented in an action. Mosser explains that people should make choices that produce the best results (Para 2). The medical use of marijuana has been supported and perceived as a positive thing by many people including the utilitarianism theorists who believe that the drug can do greater good than the anticipated harms. Despite the remarkable evidence presented on the medical use of marijuana, the utilitarianism theory may not support its recreational use because of the impacts it may pose on the country's social and economic development. Legalization of marijuana would result in more burdens to the criminal justice system because of increased use. I believe that looking at the potential impacts that an action may pose is the best way to determine its level of threat. I, therefore, conquer with the utilitarianism theorists that recreational use of marijuana should be discouraged in the United States.
Kucukuysal, Bahadir, and Erhan Beyhan. "Virtue ethics in Aristotle's Nicomachean ethics." Journal of Human Sciences 8.2 (2011): 43-51.
Matarrese, Andy. Right, Wrong and Wee: The Ethics of Legal Marijuana. Daily Record (February 21, 2015). Accessed on March 14, 2018 from https://www.dailyrecordnews.com/news/right-wrong-and-weed-the-ethics-of-legal-marijuana/article_1c16f28e-b961-11e4-9d8b-a39c0aed2b4e.htmlMosser, Kurt. "Introduction to ethics and social responsibility." San Diego (2010).
Rochford, James. "The Ethics of Marijuana Use." Xenos Christian Fellowship (2017). Accessed on March 14, 2018 from https://www.xenos.org/essays/ethics-marijuana-useTilley, John. "Cultural Relativism (copyright)." Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), 2011.
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