Why Marijuana Should Be Legal

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Marijuana has been an issue of debate for many years. As each year passes more ordinary people, elected officials, newspaper columnists, economists, doctors, judges and even the Surgeon General of the United States are concluding that the effects of our drug control policy are at least as harmful as the effects of drugs themselves (Bennett). By removing the illegal drug label from marijuana some of these harmful effects would go with it. Marijuana is a drug obtained from dried and crumpled parts of the ubiquitous hemp plant Cannabis sativa (or Cannabis indica). It is smoked by rolling it in tobacco paper or placing into a pipe. It is also otherwise consumed worldwide by an estimated 200,000,000 persons for pleasure, an escape from reality, or relaxation (Legalization of Marijuana). By this definition it does not appear that marijuana is that much different from the legal drug, tobacco. Marijuana should be legalized due to the reasons that it's prohibition infringes on our liberty, costs the government and taxpayers billions of dollars, and there is great potential for the medical benefit that could be derived from its legalization. The government does not have the right to restrict the public from exercising it's right to freedom. Also, the government is wasting billions of dollars in the prosecution against possession of marijuana when there are clearly more important issues to which these monies could be redirected. Finally, Marijuana should be legalized because it can be used as a treatment to some illnesses and its potential health risks are unclear. As a call to action, I will provide instruction on how to act for the legalization movement at the conclusion of the argument. People deserve the right to exercise their own freedom of choice when considering using marijuana. From a philosophical point of view, individuals deserve the right to make choices for themselves. According to the philosopher Herbert Spencer, what equal freedom means is that: (a) people will have the responsibility for their own lives, rather than surrendering this responsibility to others (or pretending that they have given up responsibility, which is every bit as destructive), (b) since that will be true, fewer mistakes will be made, as people will be able to see directly the consequences of their mistakes, and be able to quickly correct them (Marijuana: The Facts). So, according to Spencer the government is damaging the human race in the long run by not allowing individuals the freedom to make their own choices and thus destroying the chance for them to develop a sense of responsibility.
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