Still, a number of states, such as Florida, retain stringent marijuana laws and regularly incarcerate individuals for the offense. This essay examines both the pros and cons of the marijuana debate within the context of ethical theory, and then presents my own views regarding the debate.
In examining the question of whether marijuana should be legalized, many of the supporting ethical arguments have emerged in terms of the classical theory of utilitarianism. As first proposed by seminal philosopher John Stuart Mille, utilitarianism contends that, “when faced with a choice, we must act to achieve the greater good for the greater number of people” (Corman 1992, pg. 43). Indeed, while there are a multitude of arguments for the legalization of marijuana, some of the most pervasive have underlining utilitarian concerns. Within this context of understanding, one such argument is the notion that the cost of legally attempting to prevent individuals from using marijuana is so large that there would be greater benefit to society to simply allow individuals to use marijuana. It’s argued that, “Law enforcement has more important responsibilities than arresting 750,000 individuals a year for marijuana possession, especially given the additional justice costs of disposing of each of these cases” ("Top ten reasons," 2011).