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Marijuana Use and Governmental Regulation in the US

Ethical Issue

One of the most persistent public debates in modern times involves the use of marijuana. From the 1950s, a significant section of the population has felt that the use of marijuana should not be under government regulation. However, until now any unauthorized handling of marijuana in most parts of the United States is illegal and it can lead to serious legal ramifications. Nevertheless, the ethics of marijuana use have allowed a big section of the population across all demographics to have the audacity to smoke the substance behind closed doors.

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For most people, marijuana is in the same category as alcohol or even tobacco and the government’s need to constrict this substance is misplaced. Another school of thought thinks that marijuana is one of the most dangerous gateway drugs and it should be kept away from society.

Currently, various states have legalized the use of marijuana amid chaotic debates on the ethics of their actions. From my high school days, I have come across various effects of marijuana restrictions. For instance, I have witnessed honor students lose their status due to their association with marijuana. Besides, I have also witnessed ‘upright’ citizens being convicted due to marijuana-related charges. Eventually, my position on marijuana for recreational purposes leans towards a more liberal approach because the substance is not any more dangerous than alcohol is.

Various states across the United States have allowed individuals over the age of 21 to engage in recreational usage of marijuana. For instance, Colorado famously passed legislation that allowed individuals over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use (Fischer, Kuganesan, & Room, 2015). Other states and countries in Europe have given their citizens the liberty to use marijuana at their discretion although the substance remains illegal in most parts of the world.

Opposition against the pot (the popular name for marijuana) is often supported by various arguments. First, some feel that the fact that it is illegal means it should not be consumed at all. For this group of people, it does not matter why the substance is proscribed, all that matters is that they are law-abiding citizens. In the end, all that matters to most people is that they follow their moral compass while remaining at the right side of the law.

Psychologists and other medical enthusiasts reckon that marijuana is responsible for a host of negative effects among its users (Ashton, 2002). However, most of these effects are more pronounced against individuals who use the substance regularly. Another conflicting voice in the support of marijuana comes from moralists who consider the need to ‘get high’ unjustifiable. The supporters on the other hand argue that the users of the substance are no different from alcohol consumers. After all, both individuals are seeking a euphoric feeling through recreational substances. One of the strongest opposition against marijuana comes from religious factions. On the other hand, religion is also used to support the use of marijuana as witnessed in most parts of the Caribbean.

In my view, the choice to consume marijuana should be left to the individual. Therefore, it should not be the prerogative of the government organs to keep track of marijuana handlers. Authorities should focus on regulating the substance and not prescribing it. My reasoning is informed by the fact that the debate on marijuana has lost most of its momentum. Also, the debate is more of a fad than a course for concern against humanity. The attitudes people have adopted for or against marijuana are mostly political.

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Currently, the debate concerning marijuana is similar to other polarizing issues such as gay marriage and abortion. Consequently, as of now, it is clear that no faction in the marijuana debate is wrong or right. In such a scenario, history has shown that the final judgment should be left to the individual. The only regulation when it comes to marijuana should involve underage usage and cases of abuse. In my view, the fact that marijuana has health and psychological effects does not set it apart from other popular items such as alcohol, tobacco, prescription medicine, and fast foods among others. In conclusion, it is unethical for a person to decide on behalf of another. However, there is nothing unethical when about allowing adults of sound mind to decide what is right or wrong for them.

This exercise has turned out to be more exciting than I expected to be. Although I started the exercise in full support of recreational marijuana, by the end I was also very aware of the reasons why some individuals are quite vocal against the substance. The critical thinking that is involved in this exercise also had me thinking about whether it is ever justified to jail anyone for consuming any drug as long as he/she is not selling it to others. The whole exercise has prevented me from taking a future hardliner-position in the marijuana debate.


Ashton, H. (2002). Cannabis or health?. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 15(3), 247-253.

Fischer, B., Kuganesan, S., & Room, R. (2015). Medical Marijuana programs: implications for cannabis control policy–observations from Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(1), 15-19.

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