Recently, TIME.com published an article that reports an interesting new finding: states that legalize medical marijuana see fewer fatal car accidents. The article presents the reasoning that people may be substituting marijuana smoking for drinking alcohol, and these states have seen significantly fewer fatalities and accidents caused by drunk driving. While this claim may seem a little far-fetched at first glance, data from the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration prove the theory greatly. The rate of fatal crashes in which a driver had consumed any alcohol dropped 12% after medical marijuana was legalized, and states that legalized medical marijuana use saw fatal accidents drop by 9%. Currently, 16 states have enacted laws that effectively made medical marijuana legal, and six states currently have pending legislation. Could this recent finding displaying another positive effect of medical marijuana, one that would benefit society as a whole, push the debate closer to nationwide legalization?
[United States President Barack Obama with his views on medical marijuana]
The topic of medical marijuana legalization has been one of great controversy and debate in recent American history. As many states have pushed to pass legislation that would make medical marijuana legal, both supporters and those opposed have vocally expressed their opinions and a national debate has ensued. Issues revolving around morals, ethics, safety, and health have set the floor for the arguments surrounding medical usage of the drug, and many people hold strong, stern opinions. With increasingly more positive evidence supporting the legalization of medical marijuana being released, such as the above data, it will be interesting to see if support gradually sways in favor of the drug.
The government plays a large role in the daily life of Americans. We can all agree on that. In relation to this debate, government officials have large influence in creating, signing, and voting in favor of legislation that supports the legalization of medical marijuana. While some politicians have diligently worked to advance the nation towards such legislation, many politicians have taken an opposite route, opting to lobby their peers to vote against and oppose the legalization of medical marijuana. Many would argue that passing such legislation would greatly benefit the general public: individuals with serious diseases would have a new option to greatly relieve chronic pain, more money would enter the economy instead of the black market, and finally, as stated earlier, even fatalities caused by drunk driving could decrease. Although, it is obvious that it is not that easy. Passing such legislation would be considered by many to be immoral, unethical, and flat out wrong.
By passing legislation that would effectively legalize medical marijuana, many people would consider the government to be committing an act of dirty hands. From the views of those opposed, these political officials would be legalizing a drug to benefit elect citizens of the general public, but paradoxically, they would be acting immorally and unethically in the eyes of many of the people they represent. Essentially, the government would be committing a unique case of dirty hands. But is this okay? Clearly this type of dirty hands differs from a more obvious form of dirty hands (such as the assassination of a tyrant leader), but it still results in asking a similar question: is it morally acceptable for government officials to pass legislation or take actions that could be viewed as morally wrong and unethical if it benefits some population of the general public?
Overall, it is clear that the debate over the legalization of medical marijuana is a sticky one. Do you think medical marijuana should be legalized? Moreover, do you think actions like this taken by the government that can be considered as dirty hands are legitimate?