The process by which society detects and interprets information from the external world in a utilitarian theory claims: one should always do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. When one has the motivation to reach goals for the benefit of one’s self it is known as ethical egoism. In this paper we shall consider a brief history of cannabis, the parallels of legalizing medical marijuana and prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s with regard to ethical egoism and utilitarian theories.
The earliest record of man's use of cannabis comes from the island of Taiwan located off the coast of mainland China. Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient village site dating back over 10,000 years to the Stone Age. With the pottery that was found were rod-shaped tools, resembling in appearance to those later used to loosen cannabis fibers from their stems. The pottery with their patterns of twisted fiber embedded in their sides, suggest that men have been using the marijuana plant in some manner since the dawn of history. (Chang, 1959)
Once an assumption by society, especially over time has been established, it becomes a great effort to alter. Marijuana was first acknowledged as a narcotic in the 1920s and 1930s. Based almost completely on information designed to mislead or persuade against the evils of marijuana, embellished reports of violent crimes committed by immigrants intoxicated by marijuana were publicized by tabloid newspapers. With the vast emotion and widespread paranoia the upsurge of the women’s temperance movement incited one could consider that the temperance movement had a large part in forming the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
The 1937 marijuana Tax Act Pub. 238, 75th Congress, 50 Stat. 551 (Aug. 2, 1937), was a United States Act that placed a tax on the sale of cannabis. The act was drafted by Harry Anslinger and introduced by Rep. Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina, on April 14, 1937. The imposed tax equaled roughly one dollar on anyone who profited from cannabis, hemp, or marijuana. The Act did not itself make the possession or usage of hemp, marijuana, or cannabis unlawful but it did add a punishment and implementation to the rule to which marijuana, cannabis, or hemp handlers were subject. A $2000 fine and five years' imprisonment could result in the violation of these processes.
The National Wholesale Druggists’ Association (NWDA) representative protested, in addition to other aspects of the proposed legislation, the inclusion of cannabis alongside opiates and cocaine stating that cannabis was not what may be called a habit-forming drug. Had the use and selling of cannabis been seen in more of a Utilitarian perspective then perhaps the 1937 Marijuana Act could have been halted. More consideration and research into this issue in the 1930’s could have given earlier insight to the positive medical uses.
Because of the melee and discontent connected to cannabis, heroin and...