Marijuana Should Be Legalized as a Recreational and Medical Drug

One of today’s hottest topics revolves around the legalization and/or decriminalization of drugs. Drug prevention laws are far from perfect and violate the fundamental right to autonomy that every human shares, but are the laws justified? More importantly, why did the laws ever get created, for profit or protection? To truly answer these questions, I think each drug-legal and illegal-should be analyzed separately, rather than being lumped together in one “noxious” category. For lack of time, space, and energy I will simply state that I believe that marijuana should be legalized for both recreational and medical use, while other street drugs such as heroin or cocaine should only be decriminalized to shift the focus from imprisonment to rehabilitation.

Marijuana, to put it simply, is a safe, fun, easily attainable source of entertainment and medicine. Because the use of marijuana only produces harm to the user, minimal harm at that, I believe that the government has violated the autonomy of every American by criminalizing this drug.

Furthermore, I believe by restricting the use of marijuana, the government is depriving the public of a cheap and easy medical treatment. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, has been linked to helping individuals with things such as seizures, autism, cancer, and anxiety. This shows that the government would rather make more money (thanks to pharmaceutical companies such as Eli Lilly), than provide a much more attainable medicinal resource. Another great moral benefit to the legalization of marijuana would be less hypocrisy in the law; alcohol and tobacco are both exceptionally more dangerous than marijuana, but yet both legal.

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My proposition is to legalize and regulate marijuana use for both recreational and medicinal use, this way everybody wins! The government would reap benefits by both being able to taxation of marijuana and by freeing up resources currently used to fight marijuana use. Prison and jail populations would dramatically decrease and the negative stigma on cops would also begin to alleviate. Users would be provided a safer and cheaper way of getting the marijuana rather than throwing away hundreds of dollars for a black market item with the constant possibility of incarceration.

Lastly, legalizing and regulating marijuana use would drastically decrease the stigma on users and the plant itself. A possible objection to the notion that marijuana should be legalized and regulated is that marijuana is positively correlated with problems regarding memory and can be mentally dependent. If memory is negatively affected by the use of marijuana that means that the brain is negatively affected, insinuating that the drug is unsafe. Mental dependence is always a terrifying idea, the fear is that people will waste their lives chasing the next high. I believe that if a user is fully and correctly educated on the effects of marijuana, he has the right to do harm his own body if he chooses to do so. This notion is not true for every drug as some street drugs result in external harm or extreme internal harm. For example heroin withdrawal can kill a person or push the addict to stealing and other morally wrong crimes with the end goal of obtaining more heroin. Nobody has ever died from a marijuana-related incident and there is no true “addiction”-only dependence. The dependence is not going to be strong enough to motivate a user to throw out their morality to chase another high. Although “…there are about 80 to 90 million Americans who have used an illicit drug at some point in their life” (Husak, 24), Husak reminds us that “there is no correlation….between the frequency and severity of punishment and trends in drug use” (27); clearly the current system is not working. I believe that street drugs other than marijuana should not be legalized but rather decriminalized. There are already laws to prevent external harm such as violent offenses or theft, regardless of the state of mind the criminal is in, so we should not punish somebody for the risk of committing these crimes because of their level of sobriety. However because there is such a risk of external harm and extreme internal harm, I believe these users should be rehabilitated rather than incarcerated.

Addiction permanently alters an addict’s brain, once an addict-always an addict, and I believe we should look at addiction as a disease rather than a crime. Providing an extensive, correct education on these street drugs, as well as providing treatment would decrease unsafe drug use in my opinion. Husak provides an objection to my argument that street drugs (aside from marijuana); “…when I inject heroin or smoke crack… [I] create only a risk that may or may not materialize…” (24). He is saying that the risk of external harm is not a fair reason to not completely legalize unsafe street drugs. Proponents of this objection would indeed argue that their autonomy is being violated by the restriction of these drugs. My reply to this objection is, as Sher puts it “drug use harms strangers by involving them in the collisions, shooutouts [sic], and other catastrophes to which the impaired and overly aggressive are prone.” (30) The risk of this goes up with more use and can easily get too high to take the chance. A full-blown heroin addict may never be able to put the needle down, and is much more likely to commit theft (for more heroin) rather than get clean. Street drugs are quite a controversial topic currently in the United States; to criminalize, to decriminalize, or to legalize? I believe that each drug should be analyzed separately because each drug has its own effects. Marijuana is an easy topic- legalize for both recreational and medicinal use, the benefits greatly outweigh any disadvantages. On the other hand, other more dangerous street drugs such as cocaine or heroin should be decriminalized-replace incarceration with rehabilitation.

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Marijuana Should Be Legalized as a Recreational and Medical Drug. (2022, Sep 27). Retrieved from

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