Should Marijuana Be Illegal?

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Should marijuana be illegal? A brief look into the positive and negative conceptions of liberty that determine the difference of being told what you are free to do and being free to do what does not impede another personal freedom.

Positive vs. Negative liberties in accordance with marijuana reforms.

We often discuss the legitimacy of legalizing marijuana, but rarely is the legitimacy of it’s illegalization discussed.  I intend to talk about a few of the liberties that are violated in the way our laws work.

Under positive liberty the state or in our case government posits laws that are to be punished for infringements.  These laws include everything ranging from the ban on murder to the ban on crossing the street outside of a marked walkway.  Strictly speaking positive liberties tell you what you cannot do.

Negative liberties on the other hand limit your freedom only in limiting your infringement on others liberty.  For instance there would be no law against murder.  But, murder would be punishable and illegal as one could hardly deny murdering another takes their liberty and freedom.

In this sense I can full well say marijuana should not be illegal.  There is no necessary infringement on others by ones use of marijuana.  In so far as our forefathers have attempted to insure our liberty as Americans, as Humans, we are entitled to our liberty.

Negative liberties might seem like a complete and unordered freedom where an individual would be free to do anything and everything with no fear of punishment.  It has purposely been portrayed along side anarchy in attempts to give both a negative ‘dark side’ in pop culture.

The key factor in the negative conception is that is easy to see when a liberty is violated.  The punishments can easily be harsh or soft just like in positive systems.  Perhaps the greatest flaw of all is that under negative liberties is is not always clear what actions can be completed and what actions not.

This issue is due to the fact that in essence negative liberties have a single law, not to invade another’s liberty.  Positive laws make it nice and simple, if you know the laws, you know what it is that you can and cannot do.  Negative conceptions run into the problem of two mutually conflicting actions of freewill.  If I want to perform x, and it infringes on your liberties, you therefore want to prevent my from performing x.  My liberty is in danger of being violated by your liberty as your liberty is in danger of my violation.

In the case of marijuana reform this can be related to the vast majority of smokers who smoke to end their day.  This would seem to be legitimate in so far as they are partaking in something without necessarily exposing others to it, harming others or even involving others.

Some might see that under this conception of law people are far more free to do what is in their interest of liberty and yet we can keep the same punitive system of law.

(even though one might question why we should punish rather than attempt to reform… perhaps another time)

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Jerrod Nazarian
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Jerrod Nazarian

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