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A Slippery Slope: Legalizing Drugs by Maritza Garcia

Updated: Mar 21



The legalization of drugs is a complex and controversial topic that involves various factors such as public health, social issues, economic considerations, religious convictions, and legal/moral implications. Some argue that certain drugs should be legalized or decriminalized to reduce harm, promote public health, and address issues related to drug trafficking and criminalization. Others believe that strict regulations and enforcement are necessary to prevent abuse, addiction, and negative societal impacts.

Hammond, Dunn, and Strain (2020) indicated that advocacy for the legalization of substances that can be abused has been a popular topic of discussion, but the available data and societal opinions on this matter are limited. Individuals who use these substances may hold varying beliefs about legalization. It has been suggested that users of certain drugs, such as marijuana, may be more likely to support its legalization and decriminalization. However, this may not hold true for all cases, particularly when it comes to opioids and stimulants (Hammond, Dunn, & Strain, 2020). When they surveyed results on individuals’ beliefs about drug legalization and decriminalization in relation to substance misuse, some interesting trends were revealed. Those who reported using marijuana were found to strongly support the legalization of both recreational and medicinal marijuana. In contrast, individuals with opioid or stimulant misuse were less fervent in their support for legalization within those specific categories. By examining the beliefs of those who have misused drugs, Hammond et al. (2020) reported that their findings can help shape conversations surrounding drug legalization and provide valuable insights for policymakers when considering drug policy decisions (Hammond et al., 2020).

Legalizing drugs has various moral implications that are subject to debate. Some arguments in favor of legalization suggest that it can lead to reduced crime rates, improved public health outcomes, and increased individual freedom. On the other hand, opponents argue that legalizing drugs may contribute to an increase in substance abuse, addiction, and other social problems. The moral implications of legalizing drugs also involves considerations of personal responsibility, societal values, and the impact on vulnerable populations. It is important to weigh the potential benefits and harms of drug legalization carefully, taking into account ethical principles such as harm reduction, justice, and autonomy, too. Overall, the moral implications of legalizing drugs are complex and multifaceted as well, requiring a thoughtful and nuanced approach to policy-making.

One example of this is seen in the fight for and against the legalization of marijuana. Wilkerson (2013) submitted that there had been a significant shift in cultural attitudes towards the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes back in 2013. However, concerns have been raised now about the approval, production, dispensation, route of administration, and negative health effects associated with both medical and recreational marijuana. Wilkerson (2013) argued that medical marijuana should undergo the same rigorous approval process as other medications prescribed by physicians, which is now a viable discussion among many professionals. He insisted that the legalization of recreational marijuana may have detrimental effects on public health; and we are seeing some studies in 2024, that support this. Despite the increasing acceptance of marijuana in some states in the U.S., there is a growing body of literature suggesting that legalized marijuana could have adverse effects on both individual and public health. It was Wilkerson (2013) who suggested that the term ‘medical marijuana’ implied that it was a legitimate medicine, prescribed by a physician. However, the approval, prescription, and availability of medical marijuana in 2024, differ significantly from other commercially available prescription drugs. His main concern with this was that the variance could pose challenges that more often than not, might be overlooked by the public and many healthcare professionals in the United States. Thus, unlike commercially available drugs, medical marijuana has not been through extensive clinical trials to evaluate its safety and efficacy for various conditions. Even Wilkerson (2013) affirmed that the data was limited on the effectiveness of marijuana for conditions such as HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, chemotherapy-induced vomiting, and other ailments, conditions cited for the legalization of marijuana in 2013 (Wilkerson, 2013. Some studies have shown potential benefits of marijuana for certain symptoms; but the overall evidence is still lacking .

Ultimately decisions on drug legalization will be made by governments and regulatory bodies, based on research, public opinion, and policy considerations. So, it’s important to consider all perspectives and weigh the potential benefits and risks of drug legalization in a comprehensive manner when it comes to policy making. One opinion that should play a role, but faces an uphill challenge in today's political climate, is the opinion seen through the lens of faith. For many the legalization of drugs goes against the fabric of their faith. Thus, a discussion focused on legalizing drugs would not be complete without considering the angle from the communities of faith in this country. This angle is informed by what is seen in today's landscape as pertaining to drugs, drug use, addiction, treatment, and more. So, then many individuals of faith view this subject from the biblical principle of being good stewards of the body. The Bible teaches that the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost (1Corinthians 6:19) and should be treated with respect and care for this reason. Drug use, especially such that would lead to addiction and harm to the body, is seen as a violation of this principle.

There is also the aspect of having respect for life. Christianity values the sanctity of life and the protection of human dignity. Drug abuse and addiction can lead to destructive behaviors and harm to oneself and others, which may be seen as contrary to the Christian value of respecting life. Christianity also emphasizes personal responsibility and accountability for one's actions; legalizing drugs may be viewed as enabling and normalizing behavior that goes against biblical values and principles. Additionally, the Bible teaches the importance of caring for others and promoting the common good; drug legalization may have negative effects on communities, such as increased crime, violence, and social problems, which can conflict with Christian values of love, compassion, and justice. Finally, many Christians feel that the Church has a responsibility to lead the culture, to take a stand that upholds moral order and protects the well-being of their communities. Legalizing drugs would be an abdication of that responsibility, a failure to address the root cause of drug abuse and addiction: the collateral damage caused by sin.

We want to encourage our readers to let your voices be heard.

Should drugs be legalized? Why or why not? Please support your opinions so that others can consider.


References

Hammond, A. S., Dunn, K. E., & Strain, E. C. (2020). Drug Legalization and Decriminalization Beliefs Among Substance-using and Nonusing Individuals. Journal of addiction medicine14(1), 56–62. https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0000000000000542


Wilkinson S. T. (2013). Medical and recreational marijuana: commentary and review of the literature. Missouri medicine110(6), 524–528.

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