On Marijuana

By Jason Stotts

As many of you know, I’ve recently moved to the People’s State of California. There is much that I like about the state so far, like the weather, and much that I dislike about the state so far, like the state government. One of the few things that I do approve of, however, is the fact that California allows the use of medical marijuana.

Frankly, I am for the full legalization of marijuana.

I see marijuana the same way that I see alcohol: as a drug that certain people like in order to artificially alter their moods. Alcohol is dangerous. People die all of the time from drunk driving, binge drinking, kidney failure, etc. Certainly more people die every year from alcohol use than from marijuana use. Marijuana is also dangerous. Not only is it known to cause cancer (like smoking tobacco), it also is bad for your mind.

Because both alcohol and marijuana can be used for good reasons, I think they should be legal. However, because both alcohol and marijuana divorce one’s mind from reality and prevent one from actually addressing the feelings and situations that lead one to substitute pot or alcohol for real changes, I think that they are immoral.

Now, someone could certainly argue that not only does small amounts of alcohol not hurt you, there are known health benefits in certain kinds of whiskeys (like scotch) and red wine. This is true, but is also not the case I am talking about. A glass of red wine with dinner is not harmful, drinking all of the time because you can’t handle the reality of your life is. The case of marijuana is not congruent, however. Marijuana is known to cause cancer and always disassociates one’s mind from reality. Therefore, the only situations in which is would be moral to use marijuana is in cases where these considerations would be irrelevant: as in the case of a dying person who is using the marijuana to control pain. There is also a medically convincing reason to use marijuana to encourage eating in patients who would otherwise have no appetite, as is sometimes the case during chemo treatment and certain diseases. However, the only reason why someone who is perfectly healthy would want to use marijuana is to divorce their mind from reality. I find this immoral.

Nevertheless, even though I think their use is immoral, I think that they should still be legal. Far more harm than good is done by making a fairly benign drug like marijuana illegal. Indeed, the first thing that happens is the creation of a black market for marijuana. This will restrict the supply of marijuana, thus increasing the price. The more it is regulated and enforced, the smaller the supply becomes and therefore the price jumps even higher. If, however, you legalize marijuana, you could control the points of distribution (like is currently done with liquor licenses), you can set an age limit (like the current drinking age), you could reduce the number of non-dangerous persons in prisons, and you could raise tax revenue from the sales tax on marijuana. Incidentally, you would effectively destroy the entire black market for marijuana almost instantly as the availability of marijuana would drive down the price and make the disincentives to entry (jail time, etc) not worth the profit of the lower priced marijuana. Not only would this destroy the black market for marijuana, it would also harm the black market for many other illegal drugs as one of the most popular drugs would be take out of the black market, leaving drug dealers with only the more expensive and more dangerous drugs. This would decrease the profits in the overall black market for drugs and thus decrease the black market itself.

Thus, there are many reasons to legalize marijuana. Yet, we probably won’t see this happen. Why not? Because the current war on drugs, marijuana in particular, is not a reasonable war, but one based on the concept of sin.

I had never thought about why some people were so fanatical about marijuana, since it’s not really that bad, as far as drugs go, until I read Sam Harris’ The End of Faith. Now, there is much for which I would recommend this book, although his positive thesis is not among them, but one of the most fascinating things I found in his book is the idea that the war on drugs, prostitution, and all of the other dubious “victimless crimes” is actually a war against sin.

Think about it for a second. What is a “victimless crime”? A crime where there is no victim. None. It is a crime where no one was harmed in any way, was defrauded, was coerced, or any of the other ways in which you can actually violate another’s rights. So why are they illegal? Because the victim in these crimes, it is argued, is society. That’s right, none of us are hurt, yet all of us are. (You try to figure out the metaphysics of this one, I can’t.)

It is argued that if these victimless crimes are allowed to happen, then society itself will break down and anarchy will reign. Really? The more honest version of the argument goes like this: “if people aren’t controlled, then they will satisfy their pleasures in a way that is not pleasing to our god. We can’t let this happen.” The war against victimless crimes is a moral war based on the morality of christianity. This is very interesting, as it was my understanding that we had a separation of church and state in this country.
I don’t want to deal here with the entire issue of victimless crimes, which deserves its own essay, but I do want to point out that the issue of victimless crimes needs to be rethought in a rational light and the theological arguments against it, couched in legalistic terms, need to be dismissed.

Ultimately, what I think is that there are a whole host of things that are immoral, but that does not mean they should be illegal. The principle of law should be this: no one should be able to violate the rights of another. Period, end of story. No talk of the dubious concepts of victimless crimes or positive rights, concepts given to us from the couched christians. The law should not concern itself with people’s happiness or welfare: a person should be able to do as well as he can or be allowed to fail. He should not be able to force another (or all of us) to pay for his mistakes. Just because something is a bad idea, does not mean it should be illegal.

3 Responses to “On Marijuana”

  1. Erosophia

    […] 10. On Marijuana […]

  2. Erosophia

    […] I think this is great news and I, for one, will be voting to legalize marijuana in November.  For a full explanation of the reasons why, see my essay “On Marijuana.” […]

  3. Erosophia

    […] a more robust discussion of my views on marijuana, see my essay On Marijuana from October […]