Ethical Issues with Legalization of Marijuana Essay

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Donna Lowe SOC 120 Introduction to Ethics &Social Responsibility Prof. Donna Falloon May 16, 2011 Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America behind only alcohol and tobacco, and is estimated that nearly 80 million Americans use it at least one occasion. According to government surveys, some 20 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 11 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use. Being used for medicinal purposes or simply for recreational, there are not only laws to consider when the topic of legalization comes up but also ethical concerns as well. For this paper I will outline some of the uses for this drug and some of the benefits of its use. I will apply the…show more content…
“ A particular drug—for example, marijuana (also called hashish and bhang)—may be accepted as an appropriate adjunct to sociability in one society, used as an invaluable ingredient in religious contemplation in another, and banned by law as dangerous in a third”(Sills,1968). Since the use is illegal I bring the point of ethics to the matter. Utilitarianism is a classical theory that argues that, given a set of choices, the act we should choose is that which produces the best results for the greatest number affected by that choice. The theory also suggests that there is an obvious solution that is fair, and it may be one that appeals to common sense as well (Moser, 2010). Jeremy Bentham is considered the founder of utilitarian thought and stated that that human beings resolve their ethical questions in light of maximizing the amount of pleasure they experience while minimizing the amount of pain. He considered ethically good conduct as that which expands an individual's as well as a community's liberty by adding to the sum total of its pleasure (what later was termed maximizing the "Greatest Happiness Factor" [GHF]). Conduct is unethical, then, because it limits an individual's as well as a community's liberty and general welfare by subtracting from the GHF. So if we are to use the utilitarianism theory in regards to the legalization of marijuana, then one
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