Is Prohibition A Appropriate S Essay, Research Paper
Is Prohibition an Appropriate Standard?
Richard Dennis, the author of Chemical Dependence: Opposing Viewpoints, says that “The appropriate standard in deciding if a drug should be mad;e legal for adults ought to be whether it is more likely than alcohol to cause harm to an innocent party. If not, banning it cannot be justified while alcohol remains legal.” By applying Dennis’s standard to the prohibition of marijuana in the United States, the logical decision would be that it is unjustified to ban the use of marijuana. This is due to the fact that “alcohol-related crimes in the United States account for 54 percent of murders and attempted murders, 68 percent of manslaughters, 52 percent of rape/sexual assaults, and 48 percent of robberies” (FADAA), consequently it can be concluded that alcohol is more likely than marijuana to cause harm to an innocent party. Alcohol is still legal even though it is associated with an obscene amount of crime in the United States, along with the fact that alcohol is the ingredient that causes thousands of car accidents. Dennis therefore believes that this is enough justification to either legalize marijuana, or prohibit the use of alcohol. Is Richard Dennis’s standard for legalizing drugs appropriate to apply to the legalization of marijuana in the United States?
Dennis’s standard is formulated for the sake of drug debate. This standard was devised to support the movement to legalize marijuana. His view is that the government cannot have a rational argument against the legalization of marijuana when alcohol is legal. This is due to the fact that alcohol is more detrimental to society, than marijuana. This is contradicting the laws of America. The challenge is proving that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. If this is proven, then does that mean that both drugs should be legalized, or illegalized? Than morality is then the issue. The statement “two wrongs don’t make a right”, seems appropriate. The fact is that the prohibiting of what a good portion of society is doing, and does not find morally wrong, has been proven in the past to not work. This is because the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s caused more crime, and endanger the citizens who ignored the ban, due to the lack of regulation. Individuals will exercise their individual rights, indubitably.
John Stuart Mill in his book “On Liberty” states that, “To individuality should belong the part of life in which it is chiefly the individual that is interested; to society, the part which chiefly interests society” (73). Mill believes that if a person’s conduct does not effect society, then the government should not intervene, thus the decision should be left exclusively to the individual. Dennis’s standard follows John Stuart Mill’s philosophy on individuality. It is evident that alcohol’s effects reach way beyond the individual, therefore the issue of whether marijuana creates any social repercussions needs to be explored. It must also be determined whether the American government’s war on marijuana is causing more harm than good. If America’s intervention is causing more harm, then Dennis’s standard is further supported.
Marijuana from a risk standpoint is far less dangerous than alcohol. Alcohol is estimated to kill thirty thousand people, directly, a year. The use of alcohol and tobacco is responsible for ninety-five percent of the 500,000 deaths caused, each year, while only one percent is from drug users (Nagorney). “Even though twenty-six millions of Americans use marijuana each year, no one who is just trying to get high dies from marijuana” (Violence). “The amount of THC, the main psychoactive substance in marijuana, needed to kill someone is 40,000 times the amount needed to get high, whereas the amount of alcohol can be as low as 4 to 1 (Sam). Therefore, the social impact, on deaths of citizens due to use of marijuana is minuscule, and no comparison to the number of deaths caused by alcohol. It is virtually impossible to overdose from smoking marijuana.
Marijuana unlike alcohol is not physically addictive. Since addiction is a danger to society, marijuana would not pose to be a threat to American citizens. Marijuana can truly be considered a recreational drug. Marijuana has also been argued to be a “gateway drug”, which is actually a myth. The argument originated from the fact that marijuana is illegal and is sold through a black market. This causes harder drugs to be offered along with marijuana by the drug dealers. It’s not that marijuana it self is a “gateway” drug it is that society, through prohibition, rather than regulation, has created a black market. Still, however, there are 70 million people who have tried marijuana, and only one million people who have tried cocaine. That is quite a small gate. (Dennis 140) Interestingly enough, Holland, since marijuana has been legalized, cocaine, heroin, and the use of other hard drugs has declined (Myths). So, legalization is a lure to get people back through the gate.
The argument has been made that “Legal marijuana would cause carnage on the highway”. Thought marijuana is a hallucinogenic with effects similar to alcohol, eighty-five percent of marijuana users who caused traffic accidents were also drunk on alcohol. In addition, in states were the penalties for marijuana possession were reduced, a rise in marijuana use was reported, but they also experienced a decline in alcohol use, which lowered the amount of motor vehicle accidents. It seems, since alcohol is more harmful to society than marijuana, that through the legalization of marijuana the social implications of alcohol appears to be reduced. By proving this idea to be true, Dennis’s standard would show to be appropriate. Due to the idea that alcohol’s harm does go beyond the individual, society would benefit by drawing people away from the more detrimental alternative. Meaning that though Dennis’s standard is referring to the justification, if his reasoning was followed, social benefits would also occur.
The American government spends seventy-five billion dollars of taxpayer’s money annually on the prohibition of marijuana. Through the legalization of marijuana, that waste would then be eliminated. Also the legalization, decriminalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana, would cause large amounts of revenue to be produced. This could go towards something other than a losing battle. If marijuana was legalized, our government would benefit from an extra twelve and a half billion dollars a year from tax revenue (Dennis138). In addition, marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes, to alleviate symptoms of cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, or multiple sclerosis. Through the regulation of legalize marijuana, underage use could be controlled, the selling of tainted marijuana could be prevented, and the black market will be virtually eradicated. All of these points will greatly benefit society, and make what American citizens are doing anyway, safer and more beneficial.
An argument that arises against the benefits of legalizing marijuana is by legalizing marijuana, America will be compromising their citizens. However, the job of the government is not the instillation of morals. Moral values are fathered, by religion, family, and are influenced by society, and culture. Identifying what morals to value, is an individual decision. To follow the beliefs of John Stuart Mill, leave what effects the individual to the individual. The decision to smoke marijuana should be left up to the individual. As long as marijuana is smoked responsibly, the social benefits outweigh the nonexistent social repercussions.
In conclusion, Richard Dennis’s standard for the legalization of drugs is appropriate for argument’s sake. His rationale questions the reasoning of the government and discredits their objectives. If the government is trying to protect society from harmful drugs, then having alcohol legal is a contradiction in terms. The two social drugs legal in the United States, alcohol and tobacco, are highly addictive. Alcoholism is one of the most preventable illnesses; yet 7 out of 10 adults drink alcohol. Of these, one out of seven is an alcoholic (FADAA). Though Dennis’s standard does not directly support the legalization of marijuana, it questions the authority of the government, and discredits the “because I say so” authority, which is a violation of civil liberty. Dennis’s standard appropriately supports the need to question the justification of the government’s prohibition of marijuana.