What we can learn from Colorado

by kingjayroche on November 12, 2014 - 10:42pm

Chosen article: “Government’s still harshing Colorado’s mellow” by The Globe and Mail columnist Tom Flanagan.

                This article, written by University of Calgary political science professor Tom Flanagan, examines the ripple effects of Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana. As mentioned in the article, Colorado was the first North American jurisdiction to authorize the legal sale and recreational use of marijuana (to anyone who is at least 21 years old). More precisely, as Tom Flanagan points out that, the 2012 approved referendum regulates free enterprise and renders “the legal possession limit for consumers at one ounce (28 grams), except for ‘medcard’ holders, who can possess two ounces.”

                After a brief introduction of Colorado’s legal infrastructure for marijuana, the author mentions a study – by the “respected, liberal-leaning Brookings Institution” – which praised Colorado’s efficient implementation of its 2012 referendum. Using that study as support, the author points out the positive effects that stem from Colorado’s referendum: a new tax-paying industry, a diminishing need for law enforcement, a quality standard for marijuana products as well as an increase in tourism. Conversely, Tom Flanagan also detailed the surprising increase in the medical grey market due to the ambitious 25-per-cent excise tax – an area in need of improvement to truly make marijuana legalization a successful venture.

                After analyzing the various effects the generated by legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado, Tom Flanagan formulates two main conclusions. The first one, according to him, is that price is a key factor. Price matters because “a high price for legal marijuana, even if driven by a laudable desire to earn tax revenue for schools, will perpetuate both the street black market and medical grey market.” To further illustrate this claim, he compares the high taxes imposed on marijuana to those imposed on tobacco products and how that involuntarily created a black market for cigarettes sales. The second conclusion, is as follows: “free enterprise, with appropriate regulation for health and safety, can handle the sale of products once deemed to belong in the realm of vice.” Once again, Tom Flanagan uses comparison (Canadian provinces withdrawing from prohibition in the 1920’s) to illustrate the benefits of letting free enterprises handle legal marijuana sales, given how hard government monopolies are to dismantle.

                To finish off, Tom Flanagan claims – albeit with no justification – that “Canada will eventually legalize the possession and sale of marijuana”. That legalization, he adds, should integrate private enterprise instead of yet another government monopoly.

                If I had to provide a specific ethical question in relation to this news article, it would be: was Colorado’s marijuana legalization moral - when measuring the consequences generated – and, if so, can the legal infrastructures be improved?  

                A more general ethical question, considering Tom Flangan’s penchant for utilitarianism, would be: is legalizing marijuana ethical, as to creating, for society as a whole, more positive consequences than negative ones? 

Comments

This is a very well written article that is backed up with a ton of statistics and theories of what could happen in the future. It is interesting to sit back and watch history potentially repeat itself like it did with the prohibition. I also liked how you started out with a nice background of all the guidelines and rules for marijuana and its legalization in Colorado. It gave the uneducated reader a solid foundation to follow along in your post even if they knew nothing about the topic. The only thing I wish you did was take other people’s points of view. You seemed to focus on only one guys stand point and while his ideas were very interesting and intelligent, another side or theory would be exciting to see. I know you were basing off of his study but an outside source could really put this over the top. Overall I thought you did a good job at organizing this article and really pulling apart everything you could from Mr. Flanagan’s study.

This is a very well written article that is backed up with a ton of statistics and theories of what could happen in the future. It is interesting to sit back and watch history potentially repeat itself like it did with the prohibition. I also liked how you started out with a nice background of all the guidelines and rules for marijuana and its legalization in Colorado. It gave the uneducated reader a solid foundation to follow along in your post even if they knew nothing about the topic. The only thing I wish you did was take other people’s points of view. You seemed to focus on only one guys stand point and while his ideas were very interesting and intelligent, another side or theory would be exciting to see. I know you were basing off of his study but an outside source could really put this over the top. Overall I thought you did a good job at organizing this article and really pulling apart everything you could from Mr. Flanagan’s study.

In order to face this case study, I will adopt the point of view of Care Ethics, according to Virginia Held. On the matter of Marijuana's legalization, I believe Care Ethics would be torn apart. The main focus of Care Ethics is on taking care of the needy. The decriminalisation of marijuana offers two main possibility: the therapeutic use of marijuana and the recreational use of it. For the first option, Care Ethics would agree to the decriminalisation. If Marijuana can be use to threat several medical conditions, society has the responsibility to answer the need of the needy. Although, for the recreational use, Care Ethics would probably disagree. The providers of Marijuana-related products, like this website, will minimize the results of studies and probably call Marijuana addiction a myth. Although, if we read the conclusions of this study, there is a clear statement that Marijuana has a risk of addiction. Therefore, Care Ethics would not agree to put people in need and would conclude that decriminalization of marijuana is unethical. In this contradiction, there is a need to raise the fact that Care Ethics are against universalization of judgements. Therefore, I conclude that Care Ethics would agree to legalize marijuana for the ones who truly need it. Although, it would not agree to let people be a possible victim of addiction.