Legalizing Activities Such As Recreational Drug Use Term Paper

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legalizing activities such as recreational drug use that do not affect anyone other than the person who chooses to engage in the activity. In the sense that one's actions and choices always affect one's family and loved ones, the decision to take drugs impacts on their lives, but that is outside the realm of government legislation. The decision to smoke cigarettes or to skydive can also be said to affect the lives of one's loved ones, yet neither is prohibited by legislation.

Recently, both individual states and the federal government have enacted laws intended to severely limit the rights of tobacco smoking in public areas, in rightful recognition of the distinction between choices to engage in certain behaviors privately and the rights of others not to be subjected to dangers or inconvenience posed by such choices. This is the essential issue that distinguishes justifiable and unjustifiable government paternalism.

Drunk driving penalties represent the principle perfectly, because the choice to drink style='color:#000;text-decoration: underline!important;' target='_blank' href='https://www.paperdue.com/topic/alcohol-essays'>alcohol (even excessively) is left entirely to the individual. Modern penal laws apply to the consumption of alcohol only where the behavior threatens the health and welfare of other people. The exact same analysis would justify prohibitions against partaking of any behavior likely to cause harm to others, such as smoking marijuana or taking other recreational drugs that impair cognitive function while driving.

On another level, paternalistic legislation might be drafted to disqualify those who engage in certain behaviors from government subsidized medical care, under the theory that one has no right to saddle the rest of society with the financial burden of paying for one's irresponsible choice to persist in behaviors known to be detrimental to health and longevity. Naturally, the same concept would apply equally to those suffering the long-term medical consequences…

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On another level, paternalistic legislation might be drafted to disqualify those who engage in certain behaviors from government subsidized medical care, under the theory that one has no right to saddle the rest of society with the financial burden of paying for one's irresponsible choice to persist in behaviors known to be detrimental to health and longevity. Naturally, the same concept would apply equally to those suffering the long-term medical consequences of smoking tobacco, which currently constitutes the largest preventable cause of lung cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses that drain public resources.

The spectrum of government paternalism spans from complete permissibility, allowing utterly reckless conduct that is injurious to others to comprehensive over- regulation, where legal penalties attach to eating junk food if one is above one's ideal weight. My first disagreement with the current illegal status of recreational drugs is that I believe it represents a position on the spectrum that is too close to over- regulation in that it prohibits activities that are (or that should be) purely matters of personal choice. In my opinion, mandatory seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws infringe into issues of personal choice where there is no justification based on protecting the public at large. Conversely, I am in favor of prohibiting seemingly innocuous activities such as operating cellular phones while driving, precisely because it increases the risk of collision with innocent people. The difference is seatbelts and helmets protect only the individual who chooses to use them, whereas distracted drivers represent a potential risk to other people as well. I also reject any claim that legalizing recreational drugs would result in an increase in crimes associated with their use, because, as I suggested earlier, the same can be said (and has already been witnessed in this country) in connection with 1920's Prohibition.

Ultimately, my most fundamental objection to the current illegal status of recreational drugs is their unjustified inequality and incongruence, as compared to regulation of tobacco, alcohol, and for that matter, ropeless mountain climbing and junk food. Regardless of any argument as to the appropriate point for anti-drug laws on the legislative spectrum between absolute permissibility and over-legislation, government regulations must, in principle, reflect uniformity and a logical consistency.

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