The Moral implications of Marijuana use by Americans
In the United States there exists a rather long winded and long lived conflict on the subject of drugs. The two opposed camps have long been tied in a battle of wills with the anti-drug community maintaining primary legal control and the pro-drug community trudging along gaining small increments of ground every few years. Standing in the middle of this issue is the everyday libertarian (note the lack of a capital L) I say that the everyday libertarian stands in the middle for one very simple reason; the vast majority of libertarians are against drug use, but for the expansion of civil rights by limiting governmental control.
The anti-drug camp has always lumped marijuana in the same category as illegal drugs for a variety of reasons. Sadly, those reasons have little to nothing to do with what the supposed intellectual drug supporters claim. The main reason the anti-drug camp views marijuana the way it does has little to do with the origin of the plant and a great deal to do with the effect. Let's just put it out there, people who are high on marijuana are just plain annoying. Substances like Cigarettes and Alcohol would also be seen as an illegal drug if citizens hadn't fought to keep them grandfathered in; marijuana simply drew the short stick when its use was just starting to become mainstream.
There are three distinct categories of people who use marijuana in the United States; those that use it for truly medicinal purposes, those that use purely for recreation, and those known as stoners (the ones who actually believe marijuana cures everything from insomnia to cancer) The only people who appear to have actually gained anything from the movements rather slow progression for acceptance is this third group while simultaneously being comprised primarily of the very sort that keep the anti-drug group so fervent against them. By law however, there is no distinction between these categories as anyone who uses the drug is guilty of a federal crime.
Let us take into consideration the type of person who has a voice with regards to any and all anti-drug policy, or rather, the stereotypical individual. This person would be a wizened politician or lawmaker from a staunchly christian household and a conservative background. Now this certainly isn't the case in all respects, I assure you, however, for the sake of argument let me continue. The opposite of this person is the pro-drug supporter whose voice seems to glare the loudest. This person spends the bulk of their time in a near catatonic state, unable to hold down a job, maintain any useful skill, and by and large lives off of some form or multiple forms of welfare. So when childlike stoner starts yelling at W.A.S.P politician, politician can do nothing less than plug their nose and shoo the child away for throwing a tantrum. Thus explaining, in a stereotypical fashion, why the acceptance of marijuana has been so slow.
The pro-drug camp has attempted to spearhead there campaign with a strategy worthy of any District Attorney's office. Very simply, throw as much shit at the wall as possible and by simple statistics, at least one turd will finally stick. This group has attempted to prove major, life saving, life bettering benefits to marijuana. This group has attempted to cite highly debatable historical facts to explain why it should be legal or has been made illegal. In the end, the only argument that has ever held even the slightest weight is the one argument that marijuana simply doesn't have any real social implications at all; that marijuana has been the drug of choice for certain celebrities, politicians, and other famous figures with little or no negative impact.
The most significant problem with this issue is ignorance. There is almost no information today that gives anything close to an accurate account of the benefits or deficits caused by marijuana. The anti-drug camp has reported thousands of pages of documents proving the government's stance on marijuana as a dangerous drug while the pro-drug camp consistently cite 'independent research' performed by pro-drug organizations. This has lead to a mass infusion of disinformation that has completely clouded the drug issue for decades. It ultimately boils down to this; do you trust the experience of the hundreds of leading scientific and law enforcement officials who may well be simply trying to either keep their job and friends or justify their own moral opinion? Or do we trust the research lead by unknown, under qualified organizations who's staff of researchers have spent the greater portion of their lives 'stoned' into a semi functional coma?
From this libertarians stance, I would advise any citizen, regardless of moral condition, to listen to neither camp. Go ahead and make marijuana legal. Tax it with the same scale as cigarettes and alcohol. This way, everyone in the community can have some benefit. However, along with taxation naturally will come some regulation. To expand on the rights of citizens by allowing them to use this drug is a moral positive. However, the regulation doesn't require more government. Simply state that any drug that cannot reasonably be used as a tool to commit a violent crime (such as the case with LSD, Heroin, and so on) will be legalized, but that no assistance will ever be granted with regard to welfare, unemployment, community medical, or any other form of government assistance to anyone who has these drugs in their system or has a known, recent history with drugs of any kind (other than prescribed pharmaceuticals) With regards to business and industry, leave it to the business owner or corporate leadership to determine whether marijuana use will be acceptable for their employee's. In the end, it really won't matter. A vast percentage of welfare recipients are also moderate to heavy drug abusers (stoners) and will find themselves as even less significant than they already are to their communities. Without the hand-out, such individuals will finally have to make the moral choice to either clean up or stay in the filth. The community as a whole will simply be freed of the tyranny of supporting those who consistently refuse to do anything useful at all.