On Election Day, four states voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Those states include California, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine. In California, Prop 64 will predictably reduce drug arrests and raise up to $1 billion in tax dollars. Prop 64 allows those who are 21 or older to grow, buy, and possess small amounts of marijuana. Restrictions include prohibiting marijuana’s use in public and driving while under the influence. Those against the proposition say that there will be a rise in traffic accidents, expand the black market, and increase marijuana advertising on television.
In a recent poll, 60% of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. Let’s see if legalization would be an ethical action in the eyes of Mill. Mill’s consequentialism says an action is right in relation to the amount of happiness (good) or unhappiness (bad) it produces. The right action is the optimific one. In this case, the good consequences that legalization would have are increased revenue from taxes to use towards education and abuse prevention, while also reducing arrests and opening space in prisons. Colorado recently used marijuana revenue to help fund bullying prevention grants to 50 schools. The bad consequences would include a risk of increased traffic accidents, expanded black market, and increased marketing. The good in this case would greatly outweigh the bad. While the good consequences are measurable, predictable, and likely, the bad consequences are simply predictions that lack as much certainty. Increased advertising of marijuana on TV can’t be any worse or negatively influential than all the alcohol commercials that currently dominate primetime television. According to Mill, Prop 64 is an optimific action and voter’s weren’t wrong in implementing the proposition.