I want to make an ethical argument that the claims against marijuana legalization fall apart when applied to alcohol. I believe we need to either define in great detail what differentiates marijuana from alcohol because the current arguments can be made to make both legal or illegal. A theme that I would like to stress is that I am not going to argue that marijuana can’t have a negative impact on society. I would like to take a moment to discuss just how similar alcohol and marijuana are when it comes to their affects on society.
One of the most common things I hear on this topic is that marijuana legalization will lead to increased youth use. But according to the National Institute of Health, 18.70% of 8th graders and 53.30% of 12th graders have had alcohol in the last year, compared to 13.90% of 8th graders and 43.60% of 12th graders for marijuana](https://www.drugabuse.gov/trends-statistics/monitoring-future/monitoring-future-study-trends-in-prevalence-various-drugs). Not only are youth’s using marijuana already, but they are using alcohol as well. I am not advocating for youth use, I am pointing out how similar these numbers are.
Another thing I hear is that marijuana causes addiction. I will not be someone who argues that you can’t get addicted to marijuana. But alcoholism is a very real problem for society. The NIH states, “More than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems…” There is no use in having me argue which addiction is worse as any addiction is horrible. It puts strain of relationships in all cases, but we cannot argue that marijuana shouldn’t be legal due to a possible rise in addiction when clearly a legal substance is breaking that stance.
Lastly, fatalities. Legalizing marijuana will lead to more traffic fatalities, but alcohol causes fatalities and always has been a problem because of that. From the CDC, “In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.” In many of the studies I looked at for marijuana induced driving fatalities, a common note was added that a positive THC result doesn’t necessarily mean the driver was high at the moment of driving. I had trouble finding an clear number for that from a government source, but according to Pew, “In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, there were 51 fatalities in 2016.” Granted, that isn’t the national figure, but my point is deaths will happen for both. Anyway, I just wanted to say that all drugs bring negative effects to society. For me, passing a law banning the use of any substance is taking a right away. Anytime we take an individuals right away, there needs to be a clear reason on why that is the case. But with marijuana, there really isn’t a clear argument on why it is illegal but alcohol isn’t.