Second PHIL Essay – Drugs 1
Consider costs/benefits (utilitarian considerations)
All drugs aren’t equal
Stats say that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful than others; it’s only because they are
legal and accessible
Imagine what it would be like if hard drugs were legal. Much more deaths.
Marijuana is probably the “softest” illegal drug out. Legalize it.
o Yes, it is hard on your lungs, probably less than cigarettes (carcinogens). But you
don’t smoke 20 joints a day like with cigarettes.
o Medicinal qualities
o Holistic health
o Benefits for cancer, crohn’s disease, etc
o Anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, etc properties
Is there something morally wrong about pleasure obtained with drugs, or is pleasure
valuable no matter what it comes from?
To what extent is government interference in free choices permissible?
Are soft drugs (i.e., alcohol or nicotine) equal with hard drugs (i.e., heroin or cocaine)?
1. Costs with current drug laws – prison, enforcement, etc
2. Profits for drug traffickers – equals ~$10-50 billion per year violent crime!
If it was legalized, it would free resources, reduce illegal drug crime, etc.
Drugs legal = ↓ cost = ↑ use = ↓ health = ↑ non-drug crime
WALTER BLOCK VS. JAMES Q. WILSON
BLOCK: Drug use wouldn’t increase dramatically
WILSON: Drug use would probably increase dramatically. However, this is uncertain so therefore
we should keep our current drug laws. Second PHIL Essay – Drugs 2
Marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol are about the same.
Heroin, cocaine, and other “hard” drugs (i.e., ecstasy or crack) are not the same as them.
Although stats say alcohol and tobacco lead to greater deaths, it is only because they are readily
available with widespread use.
It is impossible to think that heroin would ever be legalized. Too addictive, health effects,
Marijuana is nearly equivalent to tobacco regarding the effects it has on health. The only
difference is that it smells bad and makes you giddy beyond imagination.
Substance Deaths Per Year
Alcohol (direct and indirect use) 50,000 to 200,000 but it contributes to up to
half of all violent crimes
Illicit drugs 3562
WILSON VS. BLOCK
Wilson: nicotine does not destroy the user’s essential humanity (affects habit) but cocaine alters
Nicotine isn’t psychoactive
Block: drugs are a ration economic value; they are an attempt to enhance welfare
Extent of personal autonomy, liberty, and circumstances under which it is appropriate for
the government to restrict our choices
Regular use of drugs = unhealthy, unproductive, and involved with harmful behaviour
William Bennett: People using drugs may “behave in chilling and horrible ways”
o Therefore we should seek to control behaviour that is directly harmful to others by
Block: don’t use law to forbid risking our health or requiring us to be productive members
o We should be free to choose how we live our lives, even if some people disapprove.
Wilson: rejects libertarian view of Block’s
o “Society isn’t and could never be a collection of autonomous individuals”
o We are all responsible in ensuring we display a minimal level of dignity,
responsibility, and empathy.