Legalizing Marijuana Marc Dalcin Dr. Marie Carroll Ashford Intro To Ethics And Social Responsibility 08/10/12 Marijuana has been at the center of a heated debate regarding its legalization. It has received both criticism and praise in equal measure. Critics refer to marijuana as a “devil weed” while supporters have often referred it to a “miracle drug. ” Despite the different references to marijuana, there has been a prolonged debate on whether it should be legalized for personal use or not.
There are two approaches to the use of marijuana with one involving medicinal purposes while the other involves purposes of pleasure. Medical health is an important aspect of human life and the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes has the importance of improving human health. In the case of using marijuana for pleasure, there is the issue of abuse of drugs, which often results in lawlessness among users. Legalizing marijuana presents an ethical dilemma in the sense that it is difficult to ascertain the intentions of the users hence the drug may end up being used for the wrong reasons (Burnham, 2011).
This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the ethical dilemma arising from the debate on legalizing marijuana and presents the use of deontological reasoning theory in solving the dilemma. The paper also includes a comparison between deontological reasoning and relativism with the eventual identification of the theory that best relates to the personal opinion with regards to the debate on legalizing marijuana. The question of legalizing marijuana Should the use personal use of marijuana be legalized? There are numerous uses associated with marijuana.
AIDS and cancer patients find marijuana useful as a drug that restores appetite and fights nausea. Marijuana also has nutritional value because its seeds contain vitamins and can be used in preparing cooking oil (Rosenthal, Kubby & Newhart, 2003). Research studies also indicate that the marijuana can be used in the manufacturing of clothes. The plant has been used in the manufacturing of paper and clothing material for a very long time and is considered produce higher amount of fibre compared to trees. Environmentalists have found the marijuana plant important in addressing the problem of deforestation and soil erosion.
Marijuana is beneficial in the restoration of lost soil nutrients. To law enforcement agencies, marijuana is considered to play a major role in increasing the number of crime rates. A significant number of incarcerated criminals have at least used marijuana prior to their arrest. The above analysis on the use of marijuana and its impact clearly points out to the fact that one group will support the legalization of marijuana while the other will oppose such a move. However, the debate can be solved using two theories of deontological reasoning and relativism.
Deontological Reasoning The theory of deontological reasoning proposes that actions are either correct or wrong in themselves without taking into account their consequences. The theory of deontological reasoning can be best explained with the use of an example of a murder case. In such a situation, a deontologist considers the act of murder as wrong based on the fact that it involves taking the life of another person. It is assumed that humans have the duty of preserving life hence one should never kill no matter the circumstances (Mizzoni, 2009).
In a nutshell, this implies that the end does not justify the means. Generally, deontologists believe that human beings have the duty of upholding morality. People have the moral duty to do the right things and avoid doing things that are wrong. The consequences of an action are never considered in determining whether the action is right or wrong. An individual has to consider his or her moral duty in order to make moral decisions. In this case, the personal use of marijuana is considered right or wrong based on the moral duty of users rather than the consequence of the plant on its user.
The theory of deontological reasoning is connected to three concepts including rights, duties and principles (Burnham, 2011). However, our discussion only focuses on duties in analyzing the debate on legalizing the personal use of marijuana. There is a brief discussion of the concept of rights with regards to the theory of deontological reasoning. If an individual has the right to life, other people have the duty of making sure that such a right is respected. This relates with the issue of legalizing the use of marijuana. From a doctor’s perspective, medical marijuana has medicinal value and can be used in preserving life through healing.
In such a case, the government and law enforcement agencies have the duty of respecting the right to life by legalizing the use of marijuana in providing treatment (Gerber, 2004). Marijuana may also be used for a different purpose such as pleasure, which may eventually result in users going insane. In order to preserve the life of users, there is an urgent need to make it illegal for users to abuse marijuana. This is because it will reduce the number of cases related to drug abuse hence saving a significant number of the human population from getting insane or engaging in criminal activities.
Insanity and criminal actions have may result in the loss of life. The theory of deontological behavior proposes two classes of duties. First, there are general duties, which are commonly identified as prohibitions. Examples of prohibitions include do not kill, do not steal, and assist the needy among other general duties. The second class of duties relate to duties arising from the fact that there exists specific social relationships. For instance, if an individual has made a promise, then he or she has the duty of keeping the promise.
Additionally, if one is a parent, then he or she has the duty to provide for the children. In this case, legalizing the personal use of marijuana is considered under the class of general duties (Jebreal & Lukes, 2011). One argument is that marijuana should be prohibited because it involves abuse of substances. On the other hand, doctors with patients have the duty to provide them with treatment even if it involves the use of marijuana as a medicine. Aquinas notes that each person has duties related to personal actions. An individual has a duty to keep promises, but does not have the duty to ensure that promises are kept.
According to the theory of deontology, people should be more concerned with fulfilling personal duties but never make attempts of bringing out the most good. This is because it may result in the violation of the concept of a duty. In this case, we only have the duty of meeting the needs of other people rather than maximize the good (Mizzoni, 2009). There are a number of actions that people may choose from but they are free to act as they please. Basically, this means that people have the option of using marijuana for whatever reasons regardless of its consequences. There are instances when duties conflict with each other.
W. D. Ross notes that in such cases, one does not require rules in solving such a conflict. One is only required to use their judgment in arriving at a solution. However, there are cases whereby one lacks the criteria that can be used in making decisions (Mizzoni, 2009). Deontologists argue that identifying the intentions of actions can provide a solution. Ross argues that actions are determined to be wrong or right based on the intentions of the agent. Therefore, deontological reasoning justifies the legalization of marijuana on the basis that it is used to improve human health.
The use of marijuana can only be considered illegal if users intend to harm others. Relativism According to the theory of relativism, an action is considered moral or immoral relative to the cultural norms of the agent. This means that an action is considered right or wrong based on the moral norms of the culture within which it is practiced. A particular action may be considered moral in one culture while immoral in another culture. Relativists are opposed to the use of universal moral standards in determining whether an action is right or wrong (Jebreal & Lukes, 2011).
The United Kingdom may consider the use marijuana as morally wrong while Amsterdam considers it morally right. According to relativists, there is no standard framework to be used in resolving moral disputes such as the legalization of marijuana across different members of society. Relativism is different from deontological reasoning in the sense that upholds societal norms as the determining factor on moral issues. According to relativism, marijuana should be legalized or not based on what society considers being moral or immoral (Jebreal & Lukes, 2011).
However, in the case of deontological reasoning, actions are considered to be right or wrong based on the moral duties of an individual. Whereas relativism places emphasis on society in solving ethical dilemmas, deontological reasoning places emphasis on the moral duty of an individual. In this case, a relativist may support the legalization of marijuana because it is commonly used among members of his or her society. The same person may oppose legalizing marijuana because it is uncommon to use marijuana or use of marijuana is considered immoral within his society.
The theory of relativism raises a number of important issues related to legalizing marijuana. First, different societies have conflicting moral beliefs and that believes of people within a society are deeply determined by their culture. It is therefore important that we incorporate the relativism when arguing for or against legalizing marijuana. Second, the theory provides for the exploration of reasons that influence the differences in beliefs of different individuals. This ensures that we also challenge the beliefs we hold for or against the legalization of marijuana (Burnham, 2011). Marijuana should be legalized
My personal opinion is that there should be the legalization of marijuana. After making comparisons between the theory of relativism and deontological reasoning, I have discovered that relativism contains views that are closer to my own views. The issue of legalizing or prohibiting marijuana should be determine on the basis of what society views to be right or wrong rather than the moral duties of an individual. The theory of deontological reasoning argues that individuals have the moral duty to do what is right and at the same time avoid what is wrong but such actions are never aimed at aximizing most good (Gerber, 2004). However, relativism argues that an action is morally good or bad based on the cultural norms of a society. In such a case, actions are either considered to be good or bad for the collective benefit of society. This means that marijuana should be legalized because it helps the society or it should be made illegal because it harms the society. There are two perspectives that can be used in supporting the use of marijuana. They include marijuana as a medicine and marijuana as an illicit drug. Medical Marijuana
Since 1972, medical marijuana has been considered an illegal substance in the United States and across a number of countries in the world. In the United States, the congress banned the use of medical marijuana on the basis that it was harmful to the health of consumers and even placed it in the first schedule of the Controlled Substances Act. Generally, the congress considered that the drug did not have any healthy gains for the human body. However, recent research studies on the effects of marijuana provided different results to the claims presented by the US congress.
Theses research studies have led to the discovery that medical marijuana can be used as medicine and has the potential to heal a number of diseases (Burnham, 2011). Marijuana contains a chemical THC, which has been proven to be harmless to human body. The new discoveries provide enough reasons for the legalization of marijuana. Failure to legalize marijuana implies that a significant number of people will be denied access to proper medication. Marijuana as an illicit drug Illicit drug use is a major problem and many countries led by the US have found it very difficult to address the problem.
Various governments have established a number of programs aimed at solving the problem including treatment and prevention programs, international narcotics control, and drug education programs (Rosenthal, Kubby & Newhart, 2003). Despite the efforts of government agencies to solve the problem of illicit drugs use, there is still an increase in the number of drug users. Research studies indicate that marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug. A perfect example is that in 1990, the US recorded approximately 6 million people using marijuana on a weekly basis or more.
The increasing usage of marijuana as an illicit drug has been closely associated with crime rates all over the world. In 2002, the US reported that approximately 40 percent of jailed adults have at least tried using marijuana. This has the implication that the legalization of marijuana presents a big threat to law and order. Despite the fact that the use of marijuana has become a major problem, the war against its use has proven to be very costly compared to the benefits accrued from legalizing marijuana.
For instance, the United States of America spends approximately 12 billion dollars in fighting the problem of marijuana. Legalizing the use of the same drug has the benefit of earning revenues for the government from taxation of marijuana. Instead of the government banning the use marijuana, it should legalize it but ensure that its cultivation, sale and purchase are regulated in order to control criminal activities associated with marijuana (Gerber, 2004). Legalizing marijuana is indeed an ethical dilemma given the fact that it can be used as medicine as well as an illicit drug.
However, deontological reasoning proposes that an action is good or bad based on the moral duty of an individual rather than its consequence. The theory therefore proposes that the morality of legalizing the use of marijuana is a personal choice. On the contrary, the theory of relativism proposes that an action is morally ethical relative to the culture within such an action is practiced (Rosenthal, Kubby & Newhart, 2003). It is on the basis of the theory of relativism that I propose the legalization of the use of marijuana.
The benefits of legalizing marijuana such as healing and economic value far outweigh the cost of prohibiting its use. References Burnham, A. (2011). Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana. New York: GRIN Verlag. Gerber, J. R. (2004). Legalizing Marijuana: Drug Policy Reform and Prohibition Politics. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group. Jebreal, R. & Lukes, S. (2011). Moral Relativism. New York: Profile Books. Mizzoni, J. (2009). Ethics: The Basics. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Rosenthal, E. , Kubby, S. & Newhart, S. (2003). Why Marijuana Should Be Legal. Chicago: Running Press.
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