When people think of the arguments for the legalization of cannabis, they might think of drug addicts in prison pleading for their freedom. Obviously, such people would be motivated by their desire to continue using drugs, and most people would regard them with a skeptical eye. But there are actually scholarly and robust ways to make the argument that cannabis should be legal.
The Principle of Freedom
For centuries, refugees across the world have come to the United States in pursuit of liberty. Of course, any historian will testify that the United States has not always been an ideal picture of freedom, and the prohibition of cannabis is one example.
While one may be able to raise a moral objection to cannabis, these ethical principles do not necessarily determine what should be legal. The police force should not function as the ethical police. In a free society, people should be able to govern their own lives so long as they are not hurting anybody else. The government should not be enforcing responsible behavior.
In fact, many have argued that reason is a more effective motivator than coercion. Think of how prevalent marijuana use is despite legislations against it. People are more likely to respond to the concerned intervention of family members and a thoughtful analysis of how marijuana impacts one’s behavior.
The Broken Window Theory
The Broken Window Theory is a policing methodology that focuses on minor drug arrests. Advocates maintain that if they arrest a lot of small time users, they will deter drug use in the future. But the practice has been largely unsuccessful. In fact, it tends to generate disrespect for police officers in poverty-stricken communities.
Parents do not want to see their 18-year-old child go to jail for holding a small bag of weed. The prison systems are full of non-violent offenders who were victimized by the Broken Window Theory. By sending them to jail, the government is branding them with a criminal record, leaving very few options aside from a life of crime. Far from deterring drug use, the Broken Window Theory reinforces it.
The phrase ‘drug war’ carries a lot of connotations. A war is a violent enterprise, and drug traffickers have largely accommodated this label. If there is a market for a product that has to be sold illegally, there will be violence. Yet compare the violence in the marijuana industry to the violence in the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs are sold legally, over the counter, in a non-violent setting all of the time.
The prohibition of alcohol in January of 1920 serves as an excellent case study. While alcohol is largely distributed without violence, that trend ended when it entered the black market. Then when it was sold again on the open market, it recommenced. Prohibition of marijuana does not prevent violence. In fact, the legal weed shops in certain states are evidence of this. CloudCultureStore sells cannabis, high-end bongs, pipes, and much more without shedding blood.
The legalization of cannabis is more than a pothead’s fantasy. It is an expression of freedom. There will always be a market for it and prohibition only multiplies the problems.