Research paper on sociology: legalizing marijuana-research


– Marijuana
– Facts about Marijuana
– Thesis statement

Marijuana laws

Explanation of how virtue ethics (Classical Theory) could resolve legalizing marijuana
Contrast of explanation with ethical egoism.
Views closer to mine
This document contains a proposal to legalize marijuana in United States of America. Many States have already legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons and laws regarding the amount of ther drug people carry have been modified to the extent of those who have already been convicted given an opportunity to have their sentences/convictions revoked.
Both classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives will be applied in arguing for this social change. Assumptions contained in to virtue ethics contacting it with ethical egoism will be thoroughly exploring in presenting a case for legalizing marijuana in this county.

Sociology: Legalizing Marijuana –Research

The Washington Post opinion column of June 7th, 2013 written by Doug Fine (2013) offered five myths of legalizing marijuana. They were identified as, if pot is legal, more people will use it; law enforcement officials oppose legalization; getting high would be the top revenue generator for the cannabis plant; Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol would control the legal cannabis industry and the fifth reason was omitted from the post (Fine, 2013). However, it is my opinion that the greatest myth about legalizing marijuana is that if 17 million Americans at age 12 and over use the drug daily is it really illegal? This research will examine whether legalizing marijuana is indeed a myth and if it is to what extent.
Before proceeding any further it is important to take a look at what marijuana is in determining of it is rarely harmful for people to use it. Importantly, the promise for placing restrictions on the use of marijuana is the myth that it is harmful to the body. However, scientists have discovered that the drug has many medicinal benefits and really does not harm the body. Consequently, some states have already legalized its use for medical purposes (Beekman, 2013).


Marijuana or Cannabis is a plant which has psychoactive chemical properties known as, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When tested these chemical ingredients are found in its buds, leaves and flowers. Interestingly, this is the mostly used illicit drug since 17 million Americans age 12 years old and above has reported using it even though alcohol and tobacco are commonly consumed also. It means that 40 % of Americans are using marijuana and it is illegal (Morral et. al, 2002).
Further investigation has shown where the effects of using marijuana are less detrimental to the human body than alcohol and tobacco. However, unfortunately more people, are arrested, detained and convicted form its use. Even when it is not being used once the drug is in their possession they can be arrested and convicted. It would appear that US marijuana law need to be re-evaluated as to the real reason underlying such harsh penalties regarding its possession and use. Critics and advocates of marijuana use for medical reasons have advanced that these laws are unnecessary as well as unsubstantial (McKim, 2002).

Facts about Marijuana

Consequently, it is imperative that facts concerning marijuana be examined in determining whether legalizing its use is essential with regards to the many people who are unnecessarily arrested annually and kept incarcerated at tax payers’ expense. These facts include knowing that many people marijuana do not abuse the drug neither do they use any other drug. Also, a large percentage of users are not dependant, which means they have not developed an addiction to the drug. Thirdly, analysts contend that the public is led to believe that the marijuana effects on the body increases with years of use, but there is no evidence supportive of this theory (Douglas, 2006).
Likewise a popular misrepresentation of the drug effects is that it causes mental illness. Again there is no scientific evidence to support this assumption. Another nonscientific assumption is that it increases cancer, but it has proven to retard the progress of many malignancies. Importantly, in the Netherlands where marijuana laws are less harsh the usage rates are similar. Therefore, legalizing the use may not necessarily increase it usage in United States of America where rates of marijuana use is already very high (Henquet et. al, 2005 ).
For the past twenty years persons over the age 18 are permitted to purchase marijuana in government regulated coffee shops in the Netherlands. Precisely, fewer Dutch teens use marijuana than those in United States of America. Hence, this is a message for United States of America Law enforcement who continues to have an unnecessary war on drugs. In reality there is no war except the one created by harsh laws aimed at incarcerated minorities in the population (Aranya & Williams, 2007).
Long term use of marijuana does not cause brain damage. Research studies reveal that marijuana subjects under the influence of the drug demonstrated no memory difficulties regarding remembering information received in the long neither short term. However, recalling new information appeared to be impaired. Interestingly, further studies revealed that this impairment was temporary lasting up to the period of intoxication. No evidence of long term effects on cognition neither memory were subsequently disclosed from studies (Douglas, 2006).
Finally, in support of keeping marijuana illegal and law enforcement employed skeptics have argued that marijuana use causes accidents. The truth is that many users who have been convicted and were incarcerated their driver’s licenses have been suspended. Even when they do have licenses there is no scientific evidence to support this assumption (Douglas, 2006).
More importantly, Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that in 2009 law enforcement prosecuted 858, 408 persons for violations pertaining to marijuana possession. This data emerged from the annual Uniform Crime Report. The indication is that presently marijuana arrests accounts for more than one-half of all reported drug arrests United States, an estimated 52%. However, just a decade ago marijuana arrests were 44 percent of the drug arrests incidences. Could it be that more people are using marijuana? Then what is the reason for keeping it illegal? (Meier, 2012).
Consequently the picture of marijuana drug possession prosecution nationally, is an estimated 46% of the total drug cases. The paradox of these arrests and prosecutions is that they have nothing to do with the use of marijuana. Applying the 2009 figures again an estimated 88 % or 758, 593 Americans were charged only with possession of marijuana. What sense it makes charging and prosecuting persons for something that is not harmful to them neither society? Further, 99, 815 arrests were charged for sale/manufacture of marijuana. This category covers all cultivation offenses within United States of America jurisdiction (Douglas, 2006).

Thesis statement

In legalizing marijuana restrictions limiting a persons’ right to pursue self-interest activities would be removed, but measures ought to be taken prohibiting self-interest activities from becoming harmful to society, ultimately.
Marijuana laws
In United States of America the sale, use, and possession of marijuana under federal law is illegal. It is listed as a Schedule I substance within the 1970 Controlled Substances Act being the highest legislative classification under that law. The insinuation thereby according to federal law is that marijuana has been deemed to have both high abuse potential with no established, safe medical use (Morral et. al, 2002).
Since 1970 there has been evidence to disprove this law. Consequently, Colorado and Washington have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes without any adverse effects to the society. This was achieved through a State referendum in 2012. While this 1970 law is enforced across America various states have made modifications relevant to their particular situation. The question then is if it is working in two states what makes it illegal across the county? Social psychologists have advanced that deviance is usually created by societal forces. Hence, marijuana laws in America have placed young productive men in prison when they could have been serving society in a more meaningful way. Precisely, these laws are merely reflections of another structural inequality strategy to keep segments of the population marginalized (Morral et. al, 2002)

Explanation of how virtue ethics (Classical Theory)

could resolve legalizing marijuana
Virtue ethics theory evaluates ethical behavior based on a person’s character. The theory examines character for moral virtues and aligns them to society’s interpretation of virtues. The foundations of these assumptions are embedded in the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato who believed in a virtuoso society functioning from the premise of correct moral virtues, which are ethical (Pojman & Fieser, 2009).
In the case of marijuana laws as it pertains to use, possession and growing clearly the decision to make marijuana illegal in America was taken by an influential few who have the power to execute such judgment about the virtues insidious in the character of minorities. As it relates, specifically, to virtue ethics theory, legalizing marijuana can remove the shadows obscuring the true character of people labeled deviant who are held unnecessarily in America’s prisons. Besides, after release from prison they cannot participate in the social structure as useful citizens anymore because they have obtained a misdemeanor or felony record depending on the state in which they reside. How useful this is to society when the facts related to marijuana use, possession and growing do not harm society. However, incarcerating thousands of vibrant citizens who have attended high school or college with tax payers money does not contribute to the good of society. This is the harm in marijuana use is created when these citizen are debarred from participation in the social structure as voters, employees, employers and policy makers (Pojman & Fieser, 2009).
The difficulty has always been differentiating between virtue and ethics. Importantly, how virtuous is ethics and can ethics determine virtue? If marijuana is legalized what virtue will emerge? Is smoking marijuana unethical behavior? Does smoking marijuana a basis for judging one’s character? Does ethical behavior build character? These are the questions virtue ethics must answer to offer a firm argument for or against legalizing marijuana. Supporters of virtue ethic theory argue that virtue ethics provides the foundation for understand how capitalist societies function. Maybe in the case of marijuana laws in America this is exactly just what is does. Herein lies its limitation in resolving this issue. Perhaps, in exploring the theory from this paradigm an understanding of the virtues in legalizing marijuana can be realized (Page, 2008).
Contrast of explanation with ethical egoism.
Ethical egoism is a philosophical support utilized by right-libertarianism and individualist anarchism. The assumption advances that individuals must be given opportunities to exercise their God given freedom of choice. Ultimately, they must not be forced into complying with all of society’s norms and values at the expense of losing their own. There are three categories of ethical egoism namely, individual, personal and universal. Individual ethical egotism contend that everyone should have the privilege of doing to do what is beneficial to him/her; whereas personal ethical egotism advance s that while members of a society should conduct themselves within their own interests, but should not dictate what the other person does. Universal ethical egotism posits that every member of society must be allowed to conduct themselves within his/her own self-interest (Senghaas, 2002).
When applying ethical egoism to legalizing marijuana it resolves the situation of restricting citizens from opportunities of exercising their God given freedom of choice. Ultimately, they must not be forced into complying with all of society’s norms and values at the expense of losing their own. Three divisions of ethical egoism distinguish how this free will is executed. It is achieved through individual, personal and universal application. From the individual level the decision to use, grow or possess marijuana rest with that person to pursue his/her self-interest (Senghaas, 2002).
Personally, no one must try dictating the other person’s course of action in relation issues in a society. It means that if one person decides not to smoke marijuana he/she must no impose that value on the others in the neighborhood because universally every member of society has the right to conduct his/her affairs based their value system. When Netherlands approach to marijuana use is explored it was revealed that there are no laws restricting its use. United States of America has laws and both countries have the same amount of users with less Dutch teenagers using the drug. In America some 800, 000 and above arrests are made annually and people continue to use, grow and sell marijuana (Douglas, 2006). Obviously, the society adopting ethical egoism is more productive than the one using virtue ethics.
Views closer to mine
The views closer to mine relate to ethical egoism in that a ban should not have been placed on the use of marijuana in the first place since people in society ought to exercise their freedom of choice. It is the use of a drug. Perhaps, it benefits persons who use it. However, my only concern is that in pursuance of self-interests it must not create any harm to society.
As such, in legalizing marijuana restrictions limiting a persons’ right to pursue self-interest activities would be removed, but measures ought to be taken prohibiting self-interest activities from becoming harmful to society, ultimately. Therefore, instead of incarcerating people who appear to be creating harm design programs that would help them pursue their self-interest without harm to self or society.


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