Legalization Of Marijuana And Effect On Future Generations

860 words - 4 pages

The environment and sustainability have become increasingly important topics in today’s society, meaning that their consideration is necessary in most ethical debates. The ethical issue regarding sustainability is whether it is ethical to legalize marijuana in order to preserve the environment. The current illegality of marijuana leads to many covert, unregulated grow-operations. Many of these operations are done indoors for secrecy purposes; this has the adverse effect of exhaustion of energy. In 2012 it was estimated that “1% of U.S. electricity consumption [was due] to indoor cannabis grow-ops” ("The Environmental Benefits of a Legal Marijuana Industry"). Also, these indoor grow operations were “associated with producing 15 million metric tons of CO2” pollution (Green). The outdoor operations are not any better as “they destroy the forests” in which they grow through exhaustion in the form of deforestation, as well as degradation in the form of soil erosion (Green). The shift to legal production by distributors results in forcing “producers toward sun growing” and will ultimately result in “a corresponding reduction in electrical use and a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions” (Green). Along with remedying the faults of illegal growing, legalization would result in grow-operations of a vastly larger scale, which means that more plant life will be added to the environment. “The nature of the [marijuana] plant enables it to absorb incredible amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere” ("Using Hemp to Halt Climate Change"). In addition, the plant does “not only absorb carbon dioxide, but it puts much of it into the soil,” which “enhances the soil” ("Using Hemp to Halt Climate Change"). However, the one negative consequence on the environment would be that with more commercial farms there would be more pesticides in use. From the standpoint of sustainability, distributors have the capability to help the environment in a large scale if marijuana is legalized. Analyzing the environmental ethics of this issue, duty ethics can be applied through “intergenerational justice on the basis of the Golden Rule: ‘treat other generations as you would have them treat you’” (Poel and Royakkers 285). Using this rule as well as the concept of sustainable development, the ethical choice would be legalization of marijuana, as this would meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Poel and Royakkers 283).
Through analysis using the ethical cycle, one does not typically make a decision strictly from the two options in the black-and-white-strategy, but instead the ethical cycle leads to a middle-ground solution that results in the best possible outcome. ...

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