Legalization of Marijuana Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Medical Marijuana Legislation and Civil Liberties

When the historic passage of legislation permitting medical marijuana use in states like Arizona (2010), Delaware (2011) and Massachusetts (2012) is considered in conjunction with the fact that 13 other states have similar legislation or ballot measures pending, the traditional conception of marijuana ingestion as a criminal act is being reexamined on a societal level. Further bolstering this assertion is the legal situation in California, Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has been decriminalized entirely and permitted for recreational sale by licensed dispensaries, providing the platform for a restoration of basic rights in these jurisdictions. With approximately half of the states in the union already affording citizens with medical needs the liberty to seek relief in the form of marijuana, while the federal government's ostensible ban on the substance remains in effect, the stage has been set for a national debate over the merits of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use. After decades of misinformation concerning the alleged link between marijuana use and addiction to more destructive "hard" narcotics like cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin, the lengthy period of legalized medicinal marijuana use in several states has provided a wealth of statistical data focused explicitly on long-term marijuana users. The so-called "gateway theory" asserted that marijuana use provided the foundation for subsequent addictions to other banned substances, and was widely used as the basis for government campaigns intended to extend the era of marijuana criminalization -- an era defined by the institutional refusal to recognize the utilitarian function of certain civil liberties. By comparing the rate of "hard" narcotic usage (as measured by arrest/conviction rates for cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin) in several states that currently permit medicinal marijuana use, the correlation between societal acceptance of marijuana and addiction to more serious substances can be statistically substantiated. As a control, states that have never permitted marijuana use of any kind on a legislative level will also be studied, in an effort to determine whether or not "hard" narcotic use in these jurisdictions is higher or lower than their more liberal counterparts.

The utilitarian ethical philosophy advanced by the work of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, each of whom argued that deciding the most morally acceptable course of action required the clinical application of logical reasoning, is epitomized by Bentham's famous axiom that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong" (1776). By applying the fundamental precepts of Bentham and Mill's concept of utilitarianism to the legislative debate over medicinal marijuana, it should be possible to make a decision which delivers, as Mill once promised, "the happiness which forms the utilitarian standard of what is right conduct & #8230; not the agent's own happiness but that of all concerned" (1863).…

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References

Mill, J.S., Smith, J.M., & Sosa, E. (1969). Mill's Utilitarianism: Text and criticism. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Pub. Co.

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