28 May 2008

The Gateway to Hell?

In a previous post we discovered that our position for keeping marijuana illegal is not well supported by the self harm argument.

But what about marijuana being a "gateway" drug to harder drug which cause more deaths or emergency hospital visits? Unfortunately, these statistics don't generally support the Cannibis as a gateway drug theory (see wikipedia's article):
"The people who are predisposed to use drugs and have the opportunity to use drugs are more likely than others to use both marijuana and harder drugs," Morral said. "Marijuana typically comes first because it is more available. Once we incorporated these facts into our mathematical model of adolescent drug use, we could explain all of the drug use associations that have been cited as evidence of marijuana's gateway effect."
In fact, if you want to use the Marijuana gateway drug argument, you have to admit that the ultimate gateway drug is alcohol.
So there are a lot of numbers and they seem to favor marijuana as a substitute to alcohol and tobacco. The question is whether the numbers matter.

We can take several perspectives. The libertarian perspective says that the numbers be damned, it's none of the government's business what individual risks one chooses to take. A utilitarian perspective would say the numbers are everything and would attempt to weigh the benefits to the user against the risks. A liberal would probably attempt to devise government intervention to minimize the pertinent numbers (often neglecting secondary effects). A conservative would probably be interesting in a different set of numbers than the liberal, relying tradition and morality to justify the current prohibition.

Considering the relatively low risk of self harm, little correlation with external harm, the high cost of enforcement, and the claimed pleasurable benefits, we'll need to delve deeper into the conservative perspective in order to find arguments against legalizing marijuana.

Stay tuned as we don our bow ties and smoking caps and determine why marijuana should be illegal!

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