State vs. Federal Marijuana Legalization
For this assignment, you will again follow the suggestion to “look at justice through… frameworks that permit careful analysis and evaluation of competing views” (Dreisbach, 2013, Section 2.1). Again, you will apply his framework for analyzing how the concept of justice varies when viewed from the different perspectives of family, community, state, and nation. In this assignment, you will apply this framework to analyze justice issues arising from recent successful efforts to legalize recreational marijuana use in two states and medical marijuana in several other states. Before responding, carefully read the assignment prompt below.
By the end of 2012, eighteen states and the District of Columbia had legalized medical marijuana use, under various circumstances, and two states had legalized recreational marijuana use. Legalization proposals are pending in other states.
At the same time, the federal government’s Controlled Substances Act (CSA) bans the possession, production, sale, or distribution of marijuana, even when such activity is technically in compliance with state law. Moreover, the Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of federal enforcement of the CSA against individuals who were in possession of or were growing marijuana for medical use in compliance with California law.
Analyze the retributive, commutative and distributive justice of this complex situation from each of these different perspectives:
A recreational pot smoker who lives in a state that recently legalized growing, possessing, selling, and distributing, through state-regulated dispensaries, limited amounts of marijuana for medical use.
A parent living in the same state, concerned that her 12-year-old will be exposed to new and significant risks of addiction to pot that will be readily available in their community.
An HIV patient, also living in this state, whose doctor advises that smoking small amounts of marijuana will probably relieve some of his pain.
The Chief of Police of the city where these people live, who has urged the City Council to enact new local zoning and other regulations that will make it virtually impossible for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.
The state’s new Medical Marijuana Board, which is empowered to permit and regulate dispensaries but is without the power to withhold permits, merely because of local opposition in a particular community.
The President and Attorney General of the United States who are responsible for enforcing the CSA as well as upholding the nation’s obligations to implement anti-drug treaties that it has ratified.
From your analysis of these various perspectives, draw a conclusion about how to achieve the most just resolution to issues involving the availability of marijuana in American society.
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