Legalization of Marijuana: a Smart Move?
by Samsara98 on September 10, 2016 - 8:03pm
The legalization of Marijuana has been an ongoing debate for the past years in Canada, but also elsewhere in the world such as the United States of America and Europe. Colorado, being the first state of the Unites States to legalize it, has been gradually weighing the positives and the negatives of the use of this particular drugs for now 5 years. This article puts the focus on how adolescents more particularly could be affected by the legalization of this drug, and its long term effects on society more generally. On the other hand, it also explores how individual freedom is trespassed if the drug were not to be legalized.
The perpetual debate however is not regarding whether medicinal use of marijuana should be legalized, because it has been for over 23 states, including Colorado for now more than a decade. The issue here is whether or not it should be legalized for personal use, in other words for leisure. This leaves governments in a difficult position, being that they have to distinguish that on one side, individual freedom and the respect of it is necessary for a society to properly function, but it is also necessary to process and evaluate the risks concerning the legalization on the health, political and societal aspects, and being able to draw the very thin line between control and protection.
The implications regarding health are enormous according to certain scientists, and lesser for others. However, studies have shown that marijuana has multitudes of negative effects on an individual’s health such as heart related diseases, higher risks of cancer, multiple mental illnesses, without excluding that it also increases the risk of children or adolescents to be overexposed to this drug, therefore possibly leading them to the consumption of the latter themselves. Legalizing the drug for leisure would be like giving sugar to a diabetic person: you’re not forcing him to eat some, but you’re not protecting him from the negative effects it has on his system, you’re basically letting him kill himself slowly. However, if governments deny the legalization of marijuana for personal leisure, then they would be impairing the freedom of those who wish to consume it.
For what concerns the political reasons of the denial of the legalization, it is slightly more complicated, because the legalization implies that there has to be new laws controlling how and where the drug is consumed. These restrictions engender costs that would not have to be if the drug was illegal. In the political aspect, there is the whole advertising part to it, which also has to be legislated, because it cannot touch people younger than 21 for more than 30% of the total advertisement they receive in a day. In addition, if you thought drunk driving was a problem, now governments also have to deal with high driving (in Colorado for example). This basically boils down to saying that governments have to fight between their moral sense of responsibility and duty to protect their citizens and make certain that they are safe, all the while not interfering in their personal lives, and taking over control on what people can and cannot consume. Both these moral claims can be translated as always acting in the best interest of everyone on the long term, and respecting people’s autonomy, but trying to accommodate both sides can easily turn into a conflict of interest since both concepts contradict one another. In the end, human life is valuable, and destroying your own health is in opposition to this statement.
Furthermore, the article brings up the point of the impact of legalizing marijuana in society in general. First off, the article presents the fact that in its first days of legalization in Colorado, sales of edible marijuana present in baked foods, candy or any other type of comestible food item literally exploded. Edible marijuana (not smoked) was in demand, and this worried the government, being that it could have a negative effect on children, who would most likely tend to make commonplace its consumption. For this particular aspect of the moral issue, I would have to say that security and safety come into the question, because it is not safe for children of teenagers to think that it is common to take this drug, and it certainly isn’t without consequences, but on the other hand, there is always the side of the government that cannot bud into what citizens do, however, I believe it certainly can and should be restricted when it comes to children and teens.
On a more economical side of the issue, marijuana has proven to be very efficient in terms of tax revenues, in addition to creating employment. Could this one and only positive side to marijuana make the balance weigh in the favour of consumers of the drug, or will governments steer clear of its positive breakthrough in the economy? Considering that governments tend to act in a more capitalist manner, I would tend to believe that this sole argument could spark the debate even more. Regardless of how the drug affects the human brain, one thing is for sure, is that it does affect the neurons in the brain. Is showing your kids how to roll a joint what you want? Is baking pot muffins what you want to be cooking with your children? Ask yourselves this question, and maybe, just maybe the issue will be closer to be resolved: Is legalizing a smart move?