Social stigma about smoking weed reflects dangers

Entzminger reflects on how marijuana is often justified and responds with a few arguments of his own.

Andrew Oxenham, Writer

Glancing at our culture, there is a trend of marginalizing sins. In an earlier time, adultery was a sin, which basically meant “career ruiner.” That person became an outcast from society, earning the scorn of an entire village. Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who had a problem with sleeping around. The common defense of sin is that what is done in the personal life does not effect their public life.

The case for the “not-a-big-deal-ness” of using marijuana runs along similar lines. The most common points are oft-repeated, and may be hard to get past:

1. “Name me on successful person whom you admire; I’ll bet they smoked weed.

2. “It’s not addictive.”

3. “It doesn’t cause me to perform any of my daily functions badly.”

4. “Since there’s nothing wrong with it, its just social stigma that makes it ‘bad.’”

Now, in case you fancy yourself a kind of Lincoln-Douglas debater, here are some responses to the above points:

1. This silly argument is akin to the old cliché, “if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff too?” The fact that successful people smoke/have smoked weed does not make a case for why it is good or ought to be used.

2. Again, the fact that a substance is not addictive does not make its use okay. After all, the case against marijuana is not based on health problems that do or don’t come from using it.

3. An argument based on a negative “it doesn’t cause me to do anything bad,” doesn’t automatically make it positive.

Number four, however, calls for a bit of reflection. The marijuana user might be correct in saying that “social stigma” looks down on weed. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. Social stigmas do not appear out of nowhere. They are often helpful in guiding us toward being socially virtuous.

As the years have gone by, the idea of being virtuous has lost its appeal. Despite the lack of reverence for virtue, certain social virtues manage to exist–– and one is a better citizen by following them. For example, it is considered socially virtuous to be on time.

Is being late morally wrong? No, but it is still socially wrong. So while there may be nothing morally wrong with smoking weed, social stigma seems to make a case for why one shouldn’t smoke.

Should social stigma not hold much sway in your mind, it is important to note that many studies show that regular marijuana users may become psychologically dependent on it. An argument against smoking weed, then, is that it is accompanied by a mindset that is highly problematic. Smoking marijuana is problematic, no matter which way you spin it.

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