By Elizabeth Endyke
John Stuart Mill, a philosopher and political economist, once said, “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs,” which along with being a favorite quote of mine is also incredibly applicable to utilitarian ethics. I found it refreshing to know that there’s a form of ethics that does not involve some sort of deep and mysterious intuition in order to decide right from wrong.
In 2016 we had to vote on the legalization of marijuana, and although it’s something that I personally enjoy and benefit from, I questioned whether it would bring harm to our society if it became legal. As I weighed out the possibilities, there was little doubt in my mind that it would bring more pleasure than suffering to our society.
In order to come to that conclusion, I asked myself, “Is there anyone truly suffering from the legalization of marijuana?” A few situations came to mind. The first was children and how secondhand smoke can get anyone contact high. Children would be most negatively affected by this.
The next thing I thought about was people driving high and potentially harming themselves or others. Along with those two concerns, there are people who are unable to be productive when they smoke (I am usually one of those people), which is fine if you have enough self-control to not let it take over your life. Unfortunately, there are people who cannot stop themselves from smoking all day, unable to be productive or do normal everyday-life things because they are always high.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with smoking throughout the day if it benefits you; it’s that some people do not benefit from marijuana in the same sense as others. However, all of these things are/were already happening before marijuana was legal because it was still incredibly easy to get! And even if it stayed illegal, people are still going to do it, and all the risks stated above are still going to happen.
The benefits that come from legalizing marijuana greatly outweigh the potential sufferings. Marijuana can be used medically to treat a very long list of disorders and diseases, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, etc. Although people suffering from the illnesses stated above could obtain a medical card and access marijuana legally already, legalizing it for recreational purposes makes it even easier for people suffering to get help, especially those with limited resources.
The government also benefits from legalizing it because they can now make money through taxing it and also stop using tax money to incarcerate people over possession charges. All in all, it brings pleasure to people who genuinely just have a good time when they smoke. It’s a safe way to make people happy! People who don’t enjoy smoking are not suffering from other people smoking, and no one should be limited by law from being able to enjoy the benefits.
When I went to college was when I really started to smoke weed habitually. As a straight A student who also works full time, it’s really hard for me to relax. I’m the only one in my family who is not on anxiety and/or anti-depressants. Although I do struggle with anxiety, I have never wanted to be medicated for it because I don’t think it’s bad enough that it gets in the way of me living my life. However, when anxiety does feel like it’s influencing my life, marijuana has been incredibly helpful at the end of the day to help me deal. And obviously I enjoy getting high and doing fun, recreational things with my friends as well.
No one around me is suffering from my choice to smoke weed, but I would suffer if I weren’t able to. The same goes for many other people, and there’s no doubt that legalizing marijuana is now bringing more pleasure than suffering to citizens in states which it has been legalized.