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Taking illegal drugs has obvious moral implications. Although a drug might be enjoyable or beneficial, the threat of punishment is not just against your own life. Those who love and depend on you will suffer just as much – if not more – than you, if you get caught with an illegal substance. So, why take the chance?
But is CBD illegal? Is it a drug? If so, it is harmful? And what are the implications, morally, of taking it?
A drug is a substance that has a physiological effect when introduced to the body. In other words, it is something that makes a change to how your body works. In this sense, there are no moral dilemmas from taking drugs. We all do it. Even a cup of coffee could be considered a drug by this definition. Is CBD a drug, according to this defiFnition?
Why is Taking a Drug a Moral Dilemma?
There are a number of moral issues with taking drugs, most of which rest upon the response of other people to your actions and the effects the drug has on your own life.
The term “drug” is a confusing one. It usually means medicine. In a hospital, talking about taking a drug is normal. However, when someone is said to be “on drugs”, or “taking drugs”, it is only used in the negative sense. Their drug use is seen as harmful to themselves and others and should be treated as a moral ill; something to be dealt with and cured.
Drug use is seen as one of society’s greatest ills. There is a lot to support that view: tens of thousands of Americans die of drug overdoses every year. Millions are addicted. Hundreds of thousands end up in hospital every year from overdoses and taking drugs that are impure or tainted with toxic substances.
However, the picture gets a little more ambiguous when you consider that legal drugs cause more deaths than illegal ones, and that legal prescription drug addiction is a bigger problem than illegal drug addiction.
“Drugs”, therefore, seem to be any drug that is bad for you, or that causes a strong addiction. Except for the fact that it is how a drug is used that defines how it is perceived and the harm done. With some obvious exceptions, some drugs have no medical or casual benefit whatsoever.
Today, Americans and other people around the world are waking up to the fact that the drug that might kill your loved one is probably going to be prescribed by their doctor, not pushed on them by a street dealer.
The morality of drugs has become more confused in one sense, and clearer in another. The causes of harm from drugs are less clearly delineated than they used to be. Your friendly local doctor might be the person providing your addictive and harmful drugs.
The Morality of Illegal Drugs
While the role of government in telling people what to do with their bodies has always been hotly debated, the prohibition of drugs has a strong moral sentiment. In fact, the majority of Western drugs policy flies in the face of the scientific process and literature, mostly relying on crude moral arguments and misconceptions.
The moral argument for making drugs like cannabis illegal is roughly as follows: drugs cause harm to individuals and society, the appropriate way to stop people taking drugs is to threaten them with punishment.
More subtle variations on the theme might include the first clause, the one about harm, but vary on the second, the response. Many moralists argue that punishment is neither a deterrent nor rehabilitative, and in fact increases the suffering of drug abuse. Putting people in prison with other drug addicts and a ready supply of drugs cannot be seen as sensible, unless the moral argument that says that we should hurt people to stop them doing things comes into play.
Now, there is morality and there is legislation. Everyone hopes that the laws they are subject to are effective and rational. But the War on Drugs, which has cost over 1 trillion USD, has killed millions of people, overthrown governments, and caused the poverty of millions. The whole thing is a good example of misguided legislation driven by knee-jerk morality being utterly ineffective. Not just ineffective, but incredibly harmful.
Joining in the Drugs Trade
When you buy an illegal drug, you are breaking the law. This might not concern many people. Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug worldwide, with up to 22 million Americans using it monthly. But there are other moral complications.
For example, alcohol was made illegal in the 1920’s prohibition era in America. That mean that someone who wants to use that substance has to buy it from an illegal source. Readers will probably be familiar with the mass murderer and illegal alcohol profiteer, Al Capone. He got rich and famous because he exploited a market for a substance that was in high demand and yet was suddenly illegal. This meant he had little competition and millions of eager customers who were willing to pay top dollar for his product. He was also prepared to kill to protect his illicit business venture.
Today, nothing much has changed. Yes, alcohol is now legalized, but there are many other popular drugs that have taken its place. If you go buy a bottle of wine from a store, you have a minimum standard of quality guaranteed by the government. You know it will probably not harm you because there are regulations that ensure quality production. You know that the people who made it were paid a minimum wage and were probably not enslaved. You pay taxes on the bottle, so does the shop and the producer. You are safe, you contribute to society, and you do not harm anyone.
Buy an illegal drug and you have no guarantee of this at all. Slavery is common in cannabis farms. Nobody pays taxes. Your money goes to cartels and kingpins and people willing to do terrible things to make lots of money.
Morally, buying an illegal drug is indefensible. You are not paying taxes, you could be harming yourself from taking an unknown substance, you are contributing to the criminal gangs’ cash flow. People are harmed by your choice. You also run the risk of being arrested and imprisoned. If that happens, you suffer, and most of all your family and friends suffer. People have to pay taxes for bigger prisons instead of more schools and better roads.
Is CBD a Drug?
Yes, CBD is technically a drug. It has a physiological effect on the body. In fact, it has many physiological effects on the body, many of them beneficial. However, it is impossible to overdose on, has a very good safety record, and it does not get you high.
Is CBD a drug that causes harm? No. But it is still illegal, at least at a federal level in the USA. It is currently legal at a state level in 50 states, but there is still a risk to your freedom if you have it on you.
The morality of taking CBD is a little clearer than for most illegal drugs. There is little or no chance of harming yourself with CBD. It is not psychoactive, so it will not make you do stupid things. It is not addictive.
From a drugs point of view, talking about and using CBD is morally acceptable. It is a proven medicine and was even approved recently by the FDA.
When it comes down to it, you have to take the very small chance of being arrested by the Feds for possessing a drug that has no abuse potential, and is actually endorsed by the same government; and weigh it against the potential benefits, which could be considerable.
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