Should cannabis be legal?

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Plants in the family cannabis have been used for industrial and medicinal uses as well as a recreational drug. Following American prohibition in the 20th century, use as a drug has been restricted around most of the world. Should it be re-legalized?

By legal we mean legal to possess, use, grow and sell.

Cannabis should be legal[edit]

  • Argument Argument It's only the flowers of the female plant that are used for recreational drug use. The male plant produces no flowers and has been used to fabricate textiles for millennia. It's fibre is one of the most resistant found in nature, and cultivating it is much more efficient in terms of water, land and time required, compared to other plants like cotton. In a world where water and land are becoming increasingly scarce, making male cannabis illegal because of the recreational use that some people do of the female plant, is unacceptable.
  • Argument Argument Legalization would allow for greater regulation. If marijuana were legal, it could be sold with a list of all active and inactive ingredients, purity levels, warnings and other useful information for the user, similar to the way alcohol and cigarettes are sold.
    • Objection Objection This doesn't imply that we should legalize it. The same could be said for heroin, crack and all other illegal substances.
      • Objection Objection Indeed. Legalizing all drugs would keep people out of jail and save taxpayer money.
  • Argument Argument People have a right to do what they want to their own bodies, as long as they don't harm others.
    • Objection Objection Marijuana can harm others through second hand smoking.
      • Objection Objection Even if we assume that smoking marijuana is unhealthy, marijuana can be eaten.
    • Objection Objection Marijuana can harm others by driving high.
      • Objection Objection The effects of marijuana would cause a driver to be paranoid and more cautious than necessary.
  • Argument Argument Cannabis use is much less dangerous than alcohol, which is legal in most parts of the world.
    • Objection Objection Then maybe alcohol should be prohibited. The fact that worse drugs than marijuana are legal is not a valid argument to legalize marijuana.
      • Objection Objection Prohibition of alcohol has been tried in the past, most notably during the Prohibition Era of the United States, which led to huge amounts of organized crime, a breakdown in law and order, and many other negative unintended consequences. Alcohol should certainly not be prohibited, that was tried and it failed miserably, and since marijuana is even less dangerous than alcohol, there is even more reason to legalize it the same way alcohol was legalized when Prohibition ended.

Cannabis should be illegal[edit]

  • Argument Argument There's no reliable testing method available. Until we have a reliable way to assess if someone is high, cannabis should remain illegal, to reduce the amount of people driving while high, and also for employers, who usually don't allow people to work while high.
    • Objection Objection Cannabis is less intoxicating than alcohol when it comes to being able to drive safely.
      • Objection Objection True, but the fact remains that high people driving make the roads more dangerous.
    • Objection Objection There are some saliva tests available.[1]
      • Objection Objection The current tests show positives for way too long.[citation needed]
    • Objection Objection Completely outlawing cannabis for everyone under all circumstances in order to prevent people while driving under its influence or doing their jobs under its influence is overkill. What about people who only ever get high when they are not at work, and who never drive motor vehicles while high, or do anything else potentially dangerous while high? There is no reason to punish them, if they are not doing anything that could be harmful towards others.
  • Argument Argument Use of cannabis drugs like marijuana should only be decriminalized but not fully legalized.
    • Objection Objection Decriminalizing but not fully legalizing cannabis would mean it would still waste time and money in our legal system that could be better spent fighting more serious crimes.
  • Argument Argument Smoking marijuana is unhealthy.[2] The state shouldn't promote unhealthy substances by making them legal.
    • Objection Objection By that reasoning, nothing should be legal, since overusing anything can be unhealthy. We should ban sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes by this logic. The state shouldn't control what people do as long as it doesn't cause a threat to the well-being of others. This is why cigarette smoking in public places is being banned by many states, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal.
    • Objection Objection No need to smoke marijuana at all as it's edible. Can be added to cakes, stews, yoghurt, put on pizza as a topping (common in Cambodia).
  • Argument Argument Marijuana is a gateway drug. Being a mild psychoactive drug, it usually generates curiosity in the user about stronger drugs. When tolerance to marijuana increases, the desire for a stronger psychoactive drug increases too, leading the user to try stronger and typically more harmful drugs.
    • Objection Objection If you want a gateway substance start with mothers' milk which has cannabinoids in it. The gateway for heroin in the UK is glue sniffing. The gateway to 'highs' or altered experience is probably throwing small children up in the air and catching them or twirling them around till they get dizzy. Nearly everybody's' brains have cannabis receptors in them which would seem to show that we happily coexisted with cannabis for millennia (see Israeli archeology).
  • Argument Argument Marijuana is dangerous to people besides the user, in the rise of health care costs, violence associated with the use of drugs, neglect of children by drug-addicted parents, and other third party effects. Legalizing cannabis would only increase these problems by increasing marijuana use.
    • Objection Objection If you want a drug that makes people neglect their children's health and welfare look at alcoholics, not cannabis users.
      • Objection Objection The fact that alcoholic parents neglect their children doesn't imply that cannabis users don't.
  • Argument Argument Legalizing marijuana would make it more easily available, which would create new consumers rather than deter current ones.
    • Objection Objection Increase of consumers would only be a good reason to keep marijuana illegal if we agreed that marijuana is unhealthy or somehow a problem, which we don't.
    • Objection Objection Outlawing marijuana hasn't succeeded at preventing its use. Portugal legalized it and its rate of drug use actually decreased, not increased.
  • Argument Argument Legalization will remove the fear of legal ramifications which would allow for a person, who previously would not break the law, to indulge and try marijuana.
    • Objection Objection There is not necessarily anything wrong with someone trying marijuana, if it is legal. It is quite safe, and if it were also legal, this would pose minimal risk. In fact, getting rid of negative legal ramifications for people doing something that is pretty much harmless is probably a good idea.
  • Argument Argument Legalization would enlarge the population of people addicted to marijuana. While marijuana is shown not to be physically addictive, all drugs carry a risk of psychological dependence.
    • Objection Objection Practically anything can be psychologically addictive. Some people are addicted to sex, but if we outlawed sex and enforced it, babies would stop being born and we'd end up going extinct. Some people are addicted to watching TV or playing video games or watching porn, but that is no reason to make those things illegal, since most people are able to enjoy things like that in moderation. Some people are addicted to food and overeat a whole lot and become obese, but if we outlawed food, everyone would starve to death. People in relationships often become psychologically dependent upon their partners, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, and it would be nonsensical to outlaw relationships. Outlawing something just because it can cause psychological dependence makes absolutely no sense.
  • Argument Argument Propaganda over the past forty years has tried to curb the use of illegal drugs. Legalizing marijuana could send mixed messages to younger populations.
    • Objection Objection If your biggest worry is "mixed messages" that might undermine "propaganda", I would say, we should encourage freedom of thought and freedom of speech, and not engage in propagandizing. Generally most freedom-loving people consider "propaganda" to be a bad thing, and undermining it to be a good thing, at least if we are talking about propaganda spread by authoritarian regimes throughout history.
  • Argument Argument Legalizing marijuana gives drug dealers easier access to weed. Unlike alcohol and tobacco which are usually only sold through licensed vendors, marijuana dealers will sell to anyone, including the more sensitive populations such as minors.
    • Objection Objection Legalizing marijuana could involve it only being sold through licensed vendors, and regulated and taxed the exact same ways alcohol and tobacco are regulated and taxed. Drug dealers would be cut out of the picture. You don't find drug dealers selling alcohol or tobacco on the streets, and if marijuana were legal and you could buy it at the local convenience store, drug dealers would not sell it either, and crime would go down. Also, since licensed vendors would only sell to adults, like with alcohol and tobacco, this would decrease its usage among minors.

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