1996 ballot initiatives on medical marijuanaShould a controversial drug issue such as this one be decided upon at the ballot box or more appropriately by legislative representatives following...

1996 ballot initiatives on medical marijuana

Should a controversial drug issue such as this one be decided upon at the ballot box or more appropriately by legislative representatives following extensive debate? Explain your viewpoint.

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a good question. Our system is not a pure democracy, and so usually the checks and balances of a republican form of government seem best.  However, there is also a long tradition of referendums on important issues at the state level in this country. In this case, I think I would favor the referendum because human suffering is at stake. I personally see nothing wrong with allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and I don't quite understand why anyone would oppose it for such purposes.  There may be good reasons for opposing it; I just don't know what they are. In the run-up to any referendum, I'm sure that all these pros and cons would be extensively debated, and such debates are one of the values of referndums: they help educate people.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that this should be the people's choice as it directly affects them!  Medical marijuana has been proven to help the terminally ill, and as such should be made available to them if they want it.  At that point in their life, with life about to end, addiction to the drug becomes unimportant.  If their remaining days can be made a little easier to bear, more pain-free, and less stressful, then the use of medical marijuana is justified.  I agree, too, that the less our government has a say in the better our lives will be. Let the people vote on issues like this.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the problems with leaving an issue such as this to legislators alone is that it most likely would not pass anywhere in the near term.  Legislators would be too concerned about their own re-election, to scared an opponent would label them as "that congressman who voted to legalize pot".  I think that's largely what has kept it from passing at a federal level.  So an initiative allowed citizens to move much faster on this issue, and I think it has helped people in dire medical situations feel more comfortable, so it's a win-win.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, on the one hand, it makes sense to appoint a group of impartial medical and sociological experts to make this decision for us as the average person in the street is not able to understand all the ins and the outs of such a complex issue. On the other hand, the ability to find anybody who is "impartial" nowadays is suspect, and also the people should have the right to decide on an issue that is going to impact them so greatly. These are the two sides of the argument. I personally would be happier with a vote.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like many issues, the legality vs. illegality of marijuana has been, more than anything else a political issue, not a moral issue going back to William Randolph Heart's efforts to make hemp illegal so that newspapers would have to be made from paper manufactured by his mills.  

The more that people can keep Washington from dictating their lives the better. Let the people vote!

"That government governs best that governs least"  Henri David Thoreau
enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The issue of marijuana use (or any drug use, for that matter) shouldn't be regulated by law.  Throughout history, the attempts to regulate human behavior have universally met with disaster.  This should not be a political issue with criminal consequences; it is a medical issue best decided by those who choose to indulge.  One can hope that there is good medical advice freely available.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The question of marijuana use has become a social issue rather than a health or legality issue--note that I am not suggesting all drug issues have become social issues. As a social issue,it stands to reason that the soundest way of deciding it is at the social level. Thus the 1996 initiative was an appropriate way of deciding the issue.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is one that is well-suited to initiatives.  Initiatives are best used on issues that are relatively easy to understand.  Marijuana may be controversial, but the arguments on each side are not.  People can easily decide for themselves on this issue.  Therefore, putting it up for a vote is a good idea in this case.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I personally don't think that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco in the long run. I see no problem with legalizing it and using it to treat health conditions. Why not put it in pharmacies and regulate its use, and require a real prescription to dispense it from a real pharmacy.