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Martin Odber

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Why is marijuana illegal?

Marijuana WHY is it illegal?

Some say "It's a gateway drug to hard drugs because when people buy this drug off dealers they are exposed to hard drugs" If this were the reasoning legalizing marijuana would mean people wouldn't need to go to dealers who may hook them on hard drugs so we'd be "closing the gate" between soft and hard drugs.

Some say "Marijuana can kill you if you smoke it." So far there appear to be 0 recorded deaths from any kind of overdose.

Some say "Marijuana can give you mad cow disease" So far not only does it not do that but its showing to have MANY positive medical affects including but not limited to fighting cancer.

Some say "the legal costs to taxpayers to keep marijuana illegal are beyond staggering" So far this is absolutely correct.

Our debate is to determine exactly what justifies the significant societal costs of marijuana being illegal on any level at all.


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    Nov 18 2013: Because your country rulers you voted for decided it to be so and to keep it that way...

    On a cultural level: other cultures ban other drugs... The reason to ban one above another is more arbitrary than based on actual effects and societal impact.

    I think the discussion should rather be: do (in your case Canadian) citizens wish to change the juridical status of this drug?

    The whole debate should rest on the (utilitarian) trade-off of costs and benefits:
    - what type of ruling will be economically advantageous (taxing cannabis 300% would be a good income for the state)
    - what is the societal impact: do we wish to increase or decrease the use?
    - What are the costs in health or psychological well-being? (Individual impact?)
    - What ruling would make us happy on short, middle, and long term...
    - does it fit our culture?
    &c &c

    On a personal note:
    I think any drug should be legal and taxed in function of the 'cleanup*' cost. I would also test a form of registration of the amount you buy and see if we might want health-workers to have your level of usage in your medical file (in order to advise or prevent addiction). *The total cost should be paid by the taxes on the product.
    And of course: inform the people about the benefits and drawbacks of the drug.
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      Nov 18 2013: "The whole debate should rest on the (utilitarian) trade-off of costs and benefits:"

      would you base your analysis of slavery on similar arguments?
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        Nov 18 2013: Yes I most definitely would,

        (Though slavery is an example and off topic:
        And I would probably assign the adversity of being a slave or becoming a slave as very very high, though I might come up with a thought experiment where the best solution to the problem is making a certain number of people slaves.

        Then again, you shouldn't think slavery is all that bad: if you are being taken care of, and only need to follow instructions, have some days of and some degrees of liberty, then maybe you are better of than a person who needs to work very hard in order to repay his debts and is unable to provide for the healthcare of his children. )

        If you wish to push the matter: I reject the idea of principle moral mostly, as I see no value in assigning an infinite weight to a specific set of principles (that would seem too dogmatic to me).
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          Nov 18 2013: it is good that we are now clear on that. (aside from that attempt to derail the conversation in the direction of voluntary slaver, which was not in question.)

          on the contrary, i have moral laws that are unquestionable, regardless of the consequences. for example: if there is a drug that is so attractive that everyone tries it and everyone gets addicted to it and everyone dies, i still oppose banning it, because it is still not your business. you are welcome not to try it, and be the last man alive. but you have no say in whether i try it or not.
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        Nov 18 2013: We do indeed differ in opinion and I think we could go at great length to see what the differences in conclusions would be on a whole set of moral problems. (And I think it would be very interesting, though this forum seems not the greatest setting to do so).
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          Nov 18 2013: you don't have any good reasoning why you choose a value system over another. if you dig deeper and deeper, it will always be arbitrary at the end. it is your choice vs others' choice. and at that point, there are really only two ways to go: respect what others thing, or don't respect. i personally don't care about the rationale at all. one needs to be extremely stupid to not be able to come up with some reasoning. everyone has a reasoning. i only care about what do you when you arrive to the point of disagreement. you take a gun, and point it to the head of the other person, or you try to argue, ask, negotiate or just agree to disagree.

          please bear in mind that i'm talking about cases in which it is possible to agree to disagree. if we debate the ownership of a piece of land, it is not possible. we can't both have it. but it is very much possible with, for example, marijuana consumption. my consumption, per se, has no effect on anything other than my own body. i can come to a conclusion that marijuana consumption, all things considered, is beneficial for me. and if you come to a different conclusion, reaching out for a gun is not acceptable.

          and so we arrived the most interesting question of all: how do we define the boundary of my personal sphere? how do we define cause and effect? if my physical deterioration saddens someone, did i cause that sadness with my reckless self destruction? does that other person have a say in how i live? does that person have ownership over a part of my life? or what about the possibility that i might cause some fire drunk, and do harm to others' property? or what if i could discover something great, but i trash my brain instead? did i hurt anyone? we need a philosophical framework to discuss this issue.

          alas, i attempted to bring this topic up in another conversation, and it sparked literally zero attention.
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        Nov 18 2013: Ok, I would not consider reaching for a gun in a case where you claim to have pleasure. I could try and persuade you that you might want to consider long term effects. I might also give you your right to rot and let you sign that you refrain from any plea towards human compassion in the future when it comes to repairing your health.
        (Or I could be compassionate after you are a wreck and get you better so you can continue to use the substances you want)

        As for personal boundary: as there is no essence, the boundary is fluid and open to debate all the time.
        defining (rather: determining) cause and effect is not always possible, though most often it can be done in principle. In practice it is not always easy, and not always necessary, as there are negotiable solutions or compromises to be found.
        As said: you can live however you want (without seriously harming others) and go for the biggest orgasm or overdose or masochism. The remainder of society might decide to let you do that in isolation or by depriving you from their assistance or help even if you would ask for it (though I think a society should uphold high values).

        My personal reason to opt for the utilitarian approach is that it is concordant with Sam Harris' view (he explains it way better than I could in 'the moral landscape'): avoid harm to conscious creatures and improve the general well-being of those creatures. Even if multi-dimensional, there is always a direction that points to "better" or "worse". Seeking higher moral ground is possible and not completely arbitrary (so there are reasons to do so).
        Furthermore, principle-moral seems like an exceptional case of utilitarian morale, where the assignment of moral importance of one rule (or set of rules) is set to infinite.

        I think it is important to err on the side of personal freedom and liberty. though I am prepared to judge someone's behavior as harmful (and limit his actions) even if he thinks it is not.
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          Nov 18 2013: you give me the right, but others don't. there is a gun at my head, as we speak. the guy on the other end of the barrel is dressed in blue. he is not considered a criminal. he is the good guy. i'm the bad guy. i'm the guy that need to be disciplined, because otherwise i would buy weed and enjoy it. nobody handed me an opt-out paper to sign, nor it is possible. there is no escape from their "care". so what now?

          i think there is a good definition to the causality i'm talking about. the framework is called "property". it is far from being straightforward. but it is a framework that is usable if one takes the time to fully explore. my body is my property. also my property is everything anyone gave me voluntarily (for example traded). property can be as elusive as usage right to something, like a landscape, or breathing the air. property can only be tangible, physical. and we only need one rule: nobody should damage or take the property of someone else. again, exploring this idea might be difficult. but once applied, the results are clear and simple.
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        Nov 19 2013: The person you call the good guy is arguably not the good guy. (unless you have done other things not mentioned in your example).
        As holding a gun to ones head (a life threat) is a serious harmful hazard (unless you are kinky or masochistic), the benefit of doing so must be much bigger (if it reduces the total number of guns pointed to people drastically, then it might be ok). These are clearly not the case. The benefits of stopping you using cannabis is not worth the gun to your head.

        I would hope that in such case, people would start to protest and undertake action to improve their society and system they live in.

        As for property or ownership rights: I think we have such things in our juridical system and most cultures accept the idea of property and ownership.
        Again: for taking away property, there must be 'good' reasons. (for example: someone gave you a stolen good or a harmful material you cannot control or an untamed raging gorilla). ((come to think: what about owning a child, a mammal or a plant.... Can you own it? to what extend can you damage it yourself?))

        As for damaging: If I damage something you own, I should reimburse you (e.g. a car crash where error was indeed judged to be mine). If I am starving and take an apple from your apple tree (by entering your garden), would you point a gun and chase me away? (I mean: is your property right so holy it justifies small transgressions of it?)
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          Nov 19 2013: what protests?? this the common situation in most countries. there are protests, some hundred people used to show up. recently, in my country, the commando (!) kicked the door in on a guy to apprehend him for growing marijuana on his own property. if i'm caught buying it, they put me in a prison cell. this is what "illegal" means. this what we hide behind the nice words. it is raw violence to beat citizens into submission. the very opening question of this conversation is whether we want to do that or not.

          property: those are the easy cases. the harder cases are something like: taxation, social security, social security and self inflicted harm, selling harmful products to informed customers, copying the policies/products of a successful company, spreading rumors about someone or something, and so on. example: do i damage your company if i write an article that your product is a crap? did i violate your property rights?
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        Nov 20 2013: In Belgium, we have less oppressive measures against marijuana, although in my home town, our mayor recently opened his war on drugs. There is a lot of debate, and we continue to look for positive ways to discourage abuse and inform people and provide easy ways to get help if you wish to stop your substance dependence.

        Maybe Hungary has political parties that oppose such repressive measures? I suggest considering to vote for them or help to get the issue on the agenda of the parliament.

        About property: interesting examples... I hope that you have good laws that provide good guidelines and good judges to apply it to specific cases in order to sort things out for the better. Property right is indeed something to take into account, but there are other rights (like freedom of speech or self-determination for example). Depending on the case, another right might be seen as superior or more important than property right. (I'm also thinking that property doesn't take into account that on a collective level we cannot say the earth belongs to us and not to the next generations, hence we cannot destroy our ecosystem if at the same time we wish for our race to survive)
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          Nov 20 2013: ah, we have all kind of parties. the one that will almost certainly win the next elections advocates the harshest measures against drug users, as drugs are destroying society, blah blah. they like symbolism, like all populists do. the parties that have any chance of winning are cowards in this matter, they don't want any fuss about it. they would sneak in some easing, but not significant. the only party that wholeheartedly advocates decriminalizing drug use (only use, not trade) has like 2% votes. this is a very grim picture, but not unusual. some european countries has lighter regulations, but others have similar. the public talk is not a basis for optimism either. look around in this conversation: we supposed to talk about legalizing, but it is all about how harmful it is. so what?? hamburger is harmful too! people don't even understand the question.

          property: not at all. current laws violate property rights on many occasions. and by the way, those other rights should not be "other" rights. freedom of speech follows from property rights. in fact, our law limits the freedom of speech in many ways, while pure property based rights would not. a good example of spreading negative and unproven information. in hungarian law, it is forbidden. in the strict property right system, it is perfectly legal. you own your body, therefore you say whatever you like. the only consequence is that you can make contracts by words, and those are binding. but if i say microsoft puts backdoor in their operating system, or i call a politician a pimp, i can be sued by them according to the current law. but they could not according to strict property rights.
      • Nov 20 2013: I would, and the cost of "Severely endangering the souls of all who take part in institutionalized slavery." would be an extremely high cost that would have to be outweighed by a remarkably high benefit. Not all "costs" and "benefits" must be fiscal.

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