Cloudy Decisions Regarding the Legalization of Marijuana

by mango101 on February 10, 2017 - 2:53pm

The legalization of marijuana has been a recurring topic of discussion in North America over the last decade. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to begin the legalization process for Canada, while some American states, such as Oregon and Maine, have already legalized this drug. Many conflicting issues are represented in this debate. A utilitarianism approach to this discussion would argue that its legalization would benefit the majority of the population and consequently would be considered the ethical answer to this question. On the other hand, others argue that its negative effects on the brain and society in general are reasons for which it must be deemed illegal. In addition, the will behind the use of this drug is often flawed, meaning an ethical rationalism point of view would consider the legalization of marijuana a poor decision to make. The benefits stemming from the legalization of this drug clearly outweigh the potential flawed reasoning behind its use, meaning a utilitarianism approach is best suited to solve this ethical dilemma.

Ethical rationalism judges actions solely on the reasoning behind why they are made and does not consider any consequences of the actions. As Immanuel Kant explains, “A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition” (Kant, 1949). The decision to smoke marijuana is often clouded (pun intended). Some may argue it is used to relieve stress or pain, while other say it is best used to simply escape mundane life. Determining the will behind someone’s use of marijuana is very difficult. Similar to alcohol use, it is a daunting task to find a good will behind using this drug. Although the will behind using this drug may not always be good, the positive consequences are clearly apparent. The ignoring of consequences arising from its use is a major issue. This problem with ethical rationalism is one reason why this ethical framework is not best suited to solve this dilemma.

On the contrary, utilitarianism provides readers with a clear evaluation system that can determine if the legalization of marijuana is an ethical right decision to make for the Canadian government. This ethical framework argues that actions are considered moral if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for society as a whole. The positive consequences of this drug’s legalization include increased government profit, less police and gang violence and more control over the quality of the product. The negative consequences include the physical and psychological harm done to individuals using the product. Firstly, studies have not been fully conclusive on how much marijuana truly affects people’s memory and brain capacity. Does smoking a joint every week affect your brain more than drinking a beer a day? The potential risks behind smoking marijuana are equally as damaging as other vices, like alcohol use. Furthermore, the profit from its legalization can be spent creating schools and hospitals and developing social programs and infrastructure.

The positives for society clearly outweigh the negatives, while the will behind using this drug are often hard to determine and unnecessary in an ethical debate. In other words, the use of utilitarianism is much more practical than the use of ethical rationalism in the debate over the legalization of marijuana. The answer is clear and utilitarianism clearly approves this drug’s legalization.


Works Cited

Kant, I., & Abbott, T. K. (1949). Fundamental principles of the metaphysic of morals. New York: Liberal Arts Press.