In this New York Times article, Kirk Johnson shares the
discussion being had on the legalization of marijuana in accordance with the
legalization of alcohol. He uses utilitarianism to look at the costs and
benefits of legalizing marijuana based on the results from legalizing alcohol.
He references prohibition and talks about the outcome of the situation in that
time period. He identifies possible actions and consequences, and assigns
values to the costs and benefits of legalizing a drug so many perceive to be so
harmful. In talking about who would be affected, specifically the people in
Washington state and Colorado, he quantifies values.
In terms of Deontology, Johnson briefly touches on the virtues and vices of viewing marijuana like we view alcohol. He talks about the desire some of these states have to make marijuana legal considering the economic growth it would instigate. However, there are some people in the same states who are focusing more on the vices, saying that should marijuana usage become legal, it would be a "'Largely state-sanctioned fraud," according to Colorado's attorney general, John W. Suthers. His belief is that "We have thousands and thousands of people lying to doctors, saying they have a debilitating medical condition."
When it comes down to the ethics of legalizing a drug, it really depends on whom you're talking to because everyone's sense of morals and ethics differ to some extent. Through careful consideration of hypothetical imperative, it all comes down to what is "right" and what is "good" for a person, which begs the question of what are our Welfare rights and how do we classify this? Is it in everybody's best interest to legalize this drug? Is it possible to regulate marijuana like we do alcohol? Do we even want to lump marijuana in the same category as alcohol after some of the major problems alcohol usage has caused? When we can answer these questions with a uniform response, we can then come to a moral and ethical agreement on whether or not legalizing marijuana will be beneficial or detrimental to our society.