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Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use

Hewlett-Packard| Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use| Introduction to Ethics: Theory and Application| | HP| Assignment # 4 | Nichole Hysel| Legalization of Marijuana for Recreational Use On a cold January afternoon in a small community, a police officer is called to a residence for suspected domestic issue.As he arrives, he can hear shouting coming from the house.He knocks on the door and a boy of about five years old, who is dressed in nothing but shorts, comes to the door.

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He stands with the door open, a slice of bread in his dirty hand, smiling at the officer. He has seen the officer at the home a few times in the past.

The child has also been over to the officer’s house to play with his children. The officer’s wife and the boy’s mother work together at the local grocery store and the boy’s father looks after him while his mother is at work. After the officer talks to the parents about their issues, which always seem to be basic domestic issues, he heads for the door. The boy follows him, hugs his leg, looks up and says, “Can I come with you? ” The officer responds, “Sorry buddy, not today. ” Two weeks later, on a bitter cold afternoon, the mother comes home from work to discover the child is gone.

The same police officer searches along with the majority of the community. The boy is found an hour later on a rural country road. He is taken to the emergency room and treated for hypothermia. He is then taken in by Child Protective Services. The father is charged with possession of marijuana, his 2nd offense, along with intent to deliver. The mother has had enough and has turned the father in for growing a few plants in the basement and selling it to his buddies. After 7 days, the child is returned to his mother. He had been under the care of the police officer and his wife.

Marijuana is the most widely used, illegal drug in the world. “It is estimated that 119 million to 224 million people used cannabis in 2011,” reports, Glenn D. Braunstein, M. D. and Vice President of clinical innovation at Cedars Sinai Hospital. Marijuana is considered a depressant, stimulant and hallucinogen. It has recently been legalized, as a recreational drug in two out of 50 states, Colorado and Washington. In these states, those who are 21 and older can possess up to an ounce of marijuana, it will be sold and taxed in state-licensed stores, much the same way alcohol is sold.

In the state of Colorado, cultivation of up to six marijuana plants per person is allowed. Both states prohibit public use. Is it morally acceptable for marijuana to be legalized as a recreational drug? After exploring my own experiences, the possible pros and cons of legalization, and the social contract, utilitarian, and the ethics of care theories, I do not think it is morally acceptable. My personal opinion about the legalization of marijuana is that it should not be legal. While I have seen both negative and positive effects of marijuana use, it has affected me and my family in a negative way.

I am aware that it can be used recreationally and have no affects. I also know that it can be addictive and have negative effects, both physically and mentally, when used on a regular basis. It is my personal opinion that the negative effects associated with marijuana outweigh the positives. I believe that if something has the potential to do harm to those who chose not to partake, it shouldn’t be legalized. I don’t believe that we should take the stand that because it is less harmful than alcohol, it should be legal.

I believe that marijuana is dangerous, especially to today’s youth who use marijuana without considering the consequences. It is my fear that legalization could send the message to youth that it is acceptable to use marijuana as a coping mechanism. I do not want my children to be tempted to use a drug as a crutch, to relax or temporarily solve their problems. There are several reasonable arguments for legalization of marijuana. They are based on the idea that attempting to control its use causes more problems than it solves. The argument seems to be, that it isn’t going away so we may as well benefit from it.

It is projected that by legalizing marijuana we could reduce the strain on our justice system, drastically cutting crime and possibly eliminating drug trafficking of marijuana. The production and sales of marijuana, by the government would save lives, create jobs and generate money that could be used for social progression, education, and healthcare which would in turn better the lives of everyone in society. Laws against use for those under 21 will prevent youth from obtaining the drug. I feel that benefitting from anything that is already illegal and proven to be a problem is immoral.

Since we cannot guarantee that society will benefit from legalizing marijuana, it should not be legal. Age restrictions do not prevent youth from obtaining alcohol; therefor I do not believe age restrictions on pot will deter them either. It is important that we use what we know about alcohol abuse as a whole, rather than use it as an excuse, due to the fact that it is perceived as more harmful, to legalize marijuana. Other arguments for legalization are based on free will and respect for autonomy. The belief is that, we all have the right to make choices for ourselves, using our own rational thought.

If we are the only person who knows our needs, we can be the only person that can decide what is best for us. Marijuana users take the stand that,” If we are in our own homes, using marijuana, who are we harming? ” I respect an individual’s right to choose as rational beings, unfortunately, not everyone is rational. Laws are put in place to protect us and benefit us as a society. Children suffer when parents use drugs in their presence. When children are under the care of a parent who is under the influence of a drug, their safety is sometimes being compromised.

A few examples could be, a parent choosing to use money to buy marijuana instead of food or clothing, an inability to drive in an emergency situation and lack of focus and reasoning. I am not saying that pot use automatically makes a parent neglectful. I know several daily users who seem to be acceptable parents, even while under the influence. Yet I ask myself, could they be better parents? When a parent uses marijuana or any drug, legal or not, in the presence of their children, it sends the message that it is ok. Legalizing the drug will cause more parents to use in front of their children.

I believe this will cause more children to use. Arguments against the legalization of marijuana tend to weigh heavily on the slippery slope argument, that any softening of the laws as they pertain to drugs will cause a bigger problem. It is anticipated by The Office of National Drug Control Policy that legalizing marijuana will increase use of the drug and, consequently, the harm it causes, thus adding to the burden on the criminal justice system. They also report that legalizing the drug will make it less expensive and more attainable to youth.

Because it is illegal in most countries, we have far less clinical evidence about pot’s effects than many other drugs. The only authorized source of marijuana research comes from the University of Mississippi and is controlled by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, they report that use of marijuana impairs memory in regular users, especially in youth. It impairs driving, inhibits productivity, causes depression, and can be addictive. It is also thought that those predisposed to addiction, will have an easier time obtaining and using the drug as a possible gateway drug.

These are problems we face while it is not legal, if legalization will increase usage, these will become a more widespread problem. Utilitarianism states that we ought to choose the action which is the one that maximizes the overall “good” of the greatest number of individuals. The problem of drug use, from the utilitarian perspective, rests on the consequences of using the drug and whether or not it will benefit the majority of the population, now and in the future. In order for us to say that it is morally bad, we need to prove that the consequences in legalizing marijuana will be bad.

The problem is, we cannot definitively say what the consequences will be. But, we can use what we learn from other areas that have or are in the process of regulating pot for recreational use. Studies done by the Drug Free America Foundation, report that based on experiences where marijuana has been legalized, the number of marijuana users tend to double or triple. This could mean an additional 17 to 34 million young and adult users in the United States. Recently, Here and Now, a talk show on local public radio in Colorado, had guest Dr. Christian Thurston, medical director for an adolescence substance abuse treatment program in Denver.

He stated, “Young patients seeking addiction treatment for marijuana tell me that pot helps them with their anger, ADHD and that it helps them to sleep. ” Thurston also said, “While marijuana can have medicinal value for adults, it can be very harmful to teens. ” He also states that, “We’ve seen, starting in the late 1980s, that adolescents exposed to marijuana have about a two to four-fold increase of developing psychosis. We have good evidence now that adolescence exposure to marijuana affects intelligence, cognition, learning and memory. ” Jann Gumbiner, Ph. D. licensed psychologist at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine, who specializes in adolescent and child psychology reports, “About 10% of users will develop problems that impair their work and relationships. Many more will come to depend on pot for relaxation and social purposes. This will be problematic if they don’t learn more effective coping mechanisms and come to rely on marijuana instead of solving their problems. ” It is my fear that legalization could send the message to youth that it is acceptable to use marijuana as a coping mechanism.

Since we know teens are likely to suffer long term affects, and that legalization will cause more teens to use the drug, we are likely to see serious negative effects that could greatly impact society in the future. Social Contract theory also plays a big role in legalization of marijuana. Social Contract theory is based on the set of rules governing behavior that all rational people accept, on the condition that others accept the rules as well. What the majority of society feels and believes plays a very big role in our lawmaking process. Lawmakers tend to go with what their constituents want, in order to get votes.

In the past society has placed a negative stigma on marijuana use, making it hard for those rallying for legalization to be heard. Recent statistics show society’s view on marijuana is changing. A Gallop Poll recently found that 50% of Americans think marijuana should be legal for adult use. This percentage is up by 4% from the previous year. This is in large part due to the fact that our younger generation is more supportive, while opposition generally comes from the older generation. It makes sense that as the older generation leaves, the younger generation’s opinion will be the majority.

As popular opinion changes, it makes sense that we will be likely to see more states attempt to legalize marijuana. It is troublesome to me that information about marijuana is usually either directly for or against the drug. Internet articles are almost always directly for or against legalization. It is very hard to get unbiased facts. It is my concern that people, especially impressionable youth, aren’t getting the facts and are using how they feel as a basis for their opinion on marijuana. These youth, will soon decide what laws will govern society. The minimum conception of morality says we ought to at he very least, do what are the best reasons for doing while giving equal weight to the interests of each individual affected by our decision. I do not believe we should make something that is illegal, legal based on the idea that we might be able to control it even possibly benefit from it. We cannot say what the consequences will be. This is the major defect of the utilitarian theory of ethics. It does not take in to consideration that often times we cannot project the outcome of moral decisions. We cannot guarantee that the majority of society will benefit from legalization of recreational marijuana.

There are too many questions involved. Could it make dealers even more competitive? Are there unforeseen costs that will take away from the suspected benefits? Will current dealers stop growing and selling? What will the effect on society be, given that legalization will most likely cause usage to greatly increase? If we don’t know the answers to such serious issues, we shouldn’t act. It is important that we use past experiences as examples. It is proven that history can be a valuable tool when attempting to predict an outcome of a hypothetical act.

It is my hope that we learn what is best, by using what we learn from the areas that have legalized pot. I am aware that my personal perspective has a lot to do with having children and my sense to protect them from all things negative, taking the ethics of care position. Carol Gilligan, internationally acclaimed writer, psychologist, American feminist and ethicist, believes a woman’s basic moral orientation is one of caring, in a personal way, not just being concerned for humanity, in general. She believes that an ethic of caring for those close to you should not be inferior to that of an ethic of principle.

I tend to agree; if we want for everyone, what we want for those we love and care for won’t the world be a better place? In summary I believe, based on what we do not know about the effects of legalizing marijuana, we should not legalize it. To say the problem isn’t going way so we may as well legalize it and benefit, is irresponsible. There is a trend showing increased usage with legalization. We aren’t able to predict the affect that increased usage will have on society. If we are to use alcohol as a guide at all, it should be as an example of what legalizing harmful substances can do to society.

It is anticipated that legalizing marijuana will entice youth even more, causing future issues. While marijuana use will always be a problem in youth, I believe educating youth with factual information about marijuana will help them make better choices and allow us to have laws that will most benefit society in the future. As Walt Disney quoted, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children”. Work Sited “187,000 Lb. of Marijuana Annually? Legal Pot Business to Bloom in Washington. ” Business Money 187000 Lb of Marijuana Annually Legal Pot Business to Bloom in Washington Comments.

N. p. , 08 Jan. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. Braunstein, M. D. , Glenn D. “Weeding Through Marijuana Facts and Fiction. ” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost. com, 01 Feb. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. “Legalizing of Marijuana Raises Health Concerns. ” Well Legalizing of Marijuana Raises Health Concerns Comments. N. p. , n. d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. “Marijuana: An Unbiased Analysis. ” Marijuana: An Unbiased Analysis. N. p. , n. d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. “Medical Marijuana: The Government’s View. ” National Drug Prevention Alliance & PPP » USA. N. p. , n. d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. “Principles and Theories.  Principles and Theories. N. p. , n. d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. Rachels, James, James Rachels, and Stuart Rachels. The Elements of Moral Philosophy: 7th Revised Edition. London: Mcgraw Hill Higher Education, 2012. Print. Swanson, Emily. “Marijuana Legalization Poll Finds Americans Want Federal Government To Leave States Alone. ” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost. com, 07 Dec. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. Turner, Dan. “Marijuana Legalization: States Send Message, Feds Aren’t Listening. ” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. The White House. N. p. , n. d. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.

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