Fair enough. Well the bad news is that the state has decided it has that right - that authority. For example, Indonesia is trying an Australian woman who has been charged with importing marijuana into Bali. If she's convicted she could face the death penalty. Now I know it's another country and not the US but I thought that might help.
Help with what?
Move the debate along of course - it was getting stuck in abstracts.
But, should the state have right to regulate drugs at all? Well yes it should have the right. Happy to go with that one.
What is the basis for the state's right to regulate drugs?
. Okay just kidding. "Because it can
" probably won't satisfy you.
And now we'll go chasing rabbits down holes as to whether or not the state has the moral right (we know it has the legal right) to prohibit anything and then we'll get tangled up in normative arguments etc etc. Scuse me if I fall asleep at that point. I mean how many Angels will actually fit on the head of a pin?
The state has the moral right to regulate drugs on the basis of personal safety. For example - now this is an example not an analogy - in my jurisdiction the legislation that prohibits the possession, use and sale of certain substances (included in them is cannabis/marijuana) is also the same legislation that regulates the production and distribution of other substances. The neat thing is that the legislation is called the Controlled Substances Act. Its basic premise is that the state can identify (by proclamation) that certain substances are to be "controlled". So none of us can possess or otherwise deal with such substances as diacetylmorphine (heroin) or cannabis sativa (marijuana).
But some of us can, in certain circumstances, deal with these substances quite legally. That's the beauty of this legislation. We import tonnes of opium (a controlled substance) because we have here a pharmaceutical manufacturer that uses opium as the raw product to produce drugs which are used in cancer therapy (basically painkillers).
Now the state hasn't said that it will prohibit anyone and everyone from dealing with opiates, but it has said that it reserves the right to licence some. It has laid out a strict regulation and inspection regime.
The philosophical position I suppose is utilitarian. To minimise harm and to maximise wellbeing. And funnily enough that's the whole idea that runs through the legislation. So on the "legal" side they allow that the opiates can be imported, processed and distributed and administered and used for medicinal purposes.
Yet they expressly prohibit the same thing for some others. On what basis?
The basis is that you can't use opiates for recreation?
Why not? I suppose it's because misuse can lead to physical harm or death.
So what? Shouldn't anyone, as the old saying has it, be allowed to decide their own path to Hell? Well yes but we live in a society where each one of us is influenced by and influences the rest. Whatever we do affects others. We're not hermits living in a desert. If that was so then I suppose you could do whatever you liked. But since you are happy to live in an organised society and accept the benefits then you have to accept that you have obligations and one of those obligations is to adhere to the democratically produced laws of the society. Yes, the good old social contract with a bit of Leviathan
thrown in for good measure.
But what if any of us don't accept that? Bad luck. Modern states - and I mean nations - tend to have adopted a territorial imperative. If you live in their landmass they assume sovereignty over you - democratically of course. So like it or not Leviathan will out
. Anyway in a democracy the moral right of the state is derived from the consent of the governed.
Back to the original question. Marijuana should be legalised if only on the basis that the prohibition is ignored on a spectacular level. It is widely used despite being prohibited. That demonstrates a general contempt for the law.
So what? If the laws are being ignored, then that is just as much a reason to make the laws more stringent as it is to make them less. You'll have to explain why, when laws are being widely ignored, that necessarily means that we should abandon those laws.
Disueteude. Any law exists as long as it's observed - not enforced. When a law falls into contempt it's time for it to get the boot.
And if anyone wants to dispute that, go ahead but resist using traffic laws as an example of spectacular passive civil disobedience, reasoning by analogy is always a bit suspect and using that analogy is downright loopy
You attempt to reason by analogy in your first paragraph and then claim that "reasoning by analogy is always a bit suspect." Really, goodfielder, that is just too ironic.
Not at all, because that wasn't an analogy, it was a statement of actuality -an example.
Now let me get back to basics. The question was "should marijuana be legalised?"
You have the right of course to spin the debate in any way you like but don't be offended if someone comes along and asks why a practical question, a question that might be appreciated by people who one day may have to consider the question in a referendum, is being discussed at such an abstract level.
If you want to debate the moral right or absence of moral right of the state to pass laws prohibiting anything then fine, go ahead, I'll be interested to join in because it's fun. But don't get snippy if someone reminds you of the purpose of the thread in the first place.