Symposium: Pros and Cons of Marijuana Legalization.

Essay by swift326University, Bachelor'sA, September 2003

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Article: Symposium: Pros and cons of marijuana legalization

Should marijuana be legalized? In the article "Symposium: The Pros and Cons of Marijuana Legalization," written by Deroy Murdock, discusses the modern implications that have to do with marijuana. In society today, many people are looking for a feeling of freedom. With the new millennium dawning upon, so are new ideas. An emphasis on autonomy and right to choose individually are modern ethical issues that have been increasingly being brought to light in society today. With this, it is almost evident that social change is soon to take place. Nonetheless, before such change occurs I will discuss the ideas that surround the legalization of marijuana by discussing the article mentioned above.

Many people go on vacation and spend money. Yet to most common get away that people seem to use is drugs. Accordingly though, marijuana is illegal due to legislation that has been around for almost a century.

After the passage of the Harrison Act, it became evident that the war on drugs seeds were planted. According to Murdock, in discussing the pro for legalization of marijuana, it is estimated that the government spends 9.2 billion dollars of taxpayer money annually in the war on drugs. (p 1) This seems to be outrageous when one examines the success at which this war has accomplished. It seems all this war on drugs has accomplished is incarcerating those who use rather than those who traffic and quick frankly this doesn't seem to accomplish anything. Likewise, according to Murdock, the average cost of imprisoning these offenders each year is 750 million. (p 1) Our prisons these days are for the most part being over crowded with the wrong people. Aren't prisons constructed for those who commit crimes that don't include leisurely drug use?

Yet we see that an overwhelming majority of the population in jails is from drug users not criminals who commit crime. Reasons for this that Murdock state has to due with violations of the 4th Amendment in the Constitution that have gone unnoticed in law. The 4th Amendment protects people "against unreasonable searches and seizures." (p 2) Yet according to Murdock's article these such amendments need to be looked at more carefully. In a letter written to the drug-czar nominee John Walters, conservative activists criticized the DEA for working with Amtrak in sharing information about passengers. It's no wonder that the DEA "can spot a drug dealer the way a woman can spot a deal at the supermarket." (p 2) More importantly another issue raised in this article that dealt with the 4th amendment includes the story about the male Highschool student who was searched by his teacher due to the fact that his crotch "was well-endowed." Yet the boy was found to not have anything. (p2) This search in my opinion wasn't necessarily a violation of the amendment. For children are not adults therefore they cannot be necessarily be prosecuted as adults. So in light of this they don't have to same rights as adults. Nonetheless, this was in school and while students are in school they are subject to searches when deemed reasonable according to the school policy for the school is responsible for the children in the school. Therefore I feel it is there right to do whatever they deem necessary to ensure the safety of those children. Another interesting point that was stated upon the pros side of legalization of marijuana is the fact that "officials deem 80 percent of intercepted communications were innocent conversations." They had nothing to do with what those drug enforcement agents were looking for. It seems like law enforcement are ease dropping on who ever they deem suspicious. Nonetheless, I wonder how many wire taps law enforcements take part in that never get noticed. A very important case in the supreme court that is discussed in this article happened on June 11, when the police used a new heat sensing device that allowed for the police to look inside houses by using the device to see if more than usual heat was being given off in certain places that would denote possible growing of marijuana. Basically the police went down the street and pointed this device at houses without a court order and were violating the constitution. They tried to convict this person who they caught from using this device and it ended up going to the Supreme court. The Supreme court deemed the use of the devise unlawful and stated that this device and devices of such "would leave the homeowner at the mercy of advancing technology--including imaging technology that could discern all human activity in the home." (p 2)

Yet what is to stop the police from using this devise with out reporting it is an issue I feel that is scary.

Furthermore, according to this Murdock the government just might possible be using the drug war to not only fight drugs but it could be another reason that the government controls. As stated earlier this drug war is very expensive and the money that goes into it could alone finance a real war abroad. Yet it doesn't. Its almost as if taxpayers are "forced to fund the militarization of domestic law enforcement." (p 4) We in a sense are given more power to the government and states and maybe that isn't necessarily bad, but in order to judge the effectiveness of this we need to take into consideration how much good it is doing. Certainly, you want those who you trust as leaders to have the most power, but are these the right people doing the right thing when we aren't looking.

One last important idea talked about on the pro side is that fact that according to Joseph McNamara, former Kansas city police chief "I found that mandatory drug sentences do not lessen drug use, but they do destroy families and neighborhoods." Accordingly, it seems to do worse than good when a person is jailed up for use of marijuana.

Now on the other side of the spectrum, it is stated that "the freedom to take drugs leads to behavior that is anathema to a free society." (p 5) Allowing individuals to choose what they want is a bad social policy according to the con side of this issue. If people were allowed to do what they want then we should just legalize prostitution and such things as euthanasia. In other words "If to each his own is the essence of conservatism, then conservatives should also support legalization of prostitution, hardcore pornography and homosexual marriage--the first two reputed to be victimless crimes." (p 5) But this is unethical, for prostitutes spread disease, drug users commit crime and pornography promotes sex addicts that rape and commit sexual related crimes.