4 American states - New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana- recently agreed to lift their ban on marijuana. And Oregon became the first state in the history of the USA to descriminalize possession of street drugs. FoxNews reported that more than 50% of Oregon's population shared this opinion. So, there are 15 states to the moment which have a policy of this kind.

However, this innovation seems to be a controversial to a certain extent. The number of people living in the territory of those states encompasses about 100 million. If to carry out some calculations, we can see that almost one third part of America gets into the category. So it puts the people at risk of facing drugs even against their will. For example, there's possibility for children to accidentally come across drugs, for there are no restrictions for keeping them at home. It may undermine the nation's gene pool.

Of course, drug dealing is still forbidden and not encouraged there, but punishment for having drugs at home in large amounts is not prosecuted anymore and there's only 100-dollars' fine for it, which doesn't make a very big sum of money and is difficult to believe it can prevent people from using drugs or storing them further.

Thus, my question is as follows: What is the point of legalising such dangerous drugs? Do disadvantages not outweigh advantages at this point?

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    Define "dangerous". Marijuana has proven medicinal benefits, especially for people with certain medical conditions, and is (as far as I'm aware) impossible to fatally overdose on.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 17:58
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    Re: children coming across drugs, there are plenty of other legal, potentially hazardous things they could come across at home. Guns, bleach, tide pods, rat poison, cigarettes / vape pens, alcohol, knives to name a few. Should the government criminalize or mandate restrictions on use of these things too? Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 18:01
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    Danger-wise, marijuana is pretty low on the list, definitely below both alcohol and tobacco, both of which are legal.
    – barbecue
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 18:09
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    The question asks about dangerous drugs, but then you go on to talk about marijuana? Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 18:53
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    This is an opinion masquerading as a question.
    – quarague
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


The premises of your question are wrong.

Lets start with the title. "Legalising dangerous drugs". The danger of marijuana is debatable. Alcohol and Tobacco are equally if not more dangerous (as I will show later).

So it puts the people at risk of facing drugs even against their will.

How so? I've never had to take any drugs -- including Tobacco and Alcohol -- against my will. And again, you are already facing drugs like Alcohol, Tobacco, caffeine and pain pills on a daily basis. Abuse of pain pills is quite common in the US.

For example, there's possibility for children to accidentally come across drugs.

And guns, especially in the US. And bleach, and pesticides and tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. Yet none of these put children in undue danger if the parents keep an eye on them and educate them on the dangers of unknown substances.

It may undermine the nation's gene pool.

Not more than alcohol, tobacco and guns. Probably even less.

All of your points pre-suppose that drug-use will rise. That is not based in fact:

In five states that decriminalized marijuana between 2007 and 2015, there was no corresponding rise in the drug’s use among young people, a new analysis shows.

So if there is no rise, none of your previous points carries any water, anyways.

Thus, my question is as follows: What is the point of legalising such dangerous drugs? Do disadvantages not outweigh advantages at this point?

The disadvantages are small to none, while there are great advantages:

The researchers found that decriminalization was associated with a 75 percent reduction in marijuana-related arrests of people under the age of 21. Meanwhile, there was no increase in reported use by the high school students who took the survey.

Less arrests are somewhat to be expected. Why is that a good thing, though?

“An arrest can have a long-term impact on a teenager, even if that individual isn’t ultimately found guilty or sent to jail. Scholarship opportunities and grants can be lost, and in some states, drivers’ licenses are confiscated. There are several important life consequences that go along with having a criminal record after an arrest for marijuana.”

The negative consequences associated with drug arrests are a primary reason a number of public health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have announced support for decriminalization while still opposing pot legalization.


"Decriminalizing pot doesn’t lead to increased use by young people", Washington University in St. Louis, Jim Dryden, July 2018

Decriminalization of drugs is no recent development, either. In the US, it started in 1973.

1973: Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis – reducing the penalty for up to one ounce to a $100 fine.
1975: Alaska, Maine, Colorado, California, and Ohio decriminalized cannabis.

A 1989 study already found various positive effects:

The available evidence indicates that the "decriminalization" of marijuana possession had little or no impact on rates of use. Although rates of marijuana use increased in those U.S. states which reduced maximum penalties for possession to a fine, the prevalence of use increased at similar or higher rates in those states which retained more severe penalties. There were also no discernable impacts on the health care systems. On the other hand, the so-called "decriminalization" measures did result in substantial savings in the criminal justice system.

So there is no rise in numbers, but positive effects on the healthcare system and justice system.

So how dangerous is cannabis?

In most cases, drinking alcohol is not life-threatening. However, when people consume too much alcohol, it can be fatal. The CDC reports that nearly 88,000 alcohol-related deaths occur each year. And binge drinking accounted for about half of these deaths.

In comparison, the number of deaths caused by marijuana is almost zero. A study found that a fatal dose of TCH, the potent chemical in marijuana, would be between 15 and 70 grams. To give you an idea of how much marijuana that is, consider that a typical joint contains about half a gram of marijuana. That means that you would have to smoke between 238 and 1,113 joints in a day to overdose on marijuana. That’s a lot of joints.

So overdosing on marijuana is a lot harder than on alcohol.

When it comes to what substance will put someone at risk for getting hurt or hurting others, alcohol is considered to cause the most harm.

A study on marijuana use and intimate partner violence found that couples who used marijuana had lower rates of intimate partner violence in the first 9 years of marriage. In fact, men who used marijuana were the least likely to commit an act of intimate partner violence against a spouse.

Less domestic violence when marijuana is involved compared to when alcohol is involved. I'd say that is a good thing.

Besides alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly detected drug in drivers involved in car accidents. One study found that marijuana increased the odds of being in car accident by 83%.

You may think that 83% is high, but when alcohol was involved, the odds of being in a car accident increased more than 2,200%!

To state the obvious: nobody should drink and drive or get high and drive. The sad truth is, people do. And if I look at the above numbers, it seems legalizing marijuana isn't the problem, its continuing to tolerate alcohol.


"The Great Debate: Alcohol Vs Marijuana", Lauren Villa, MPH, American Addiction Centers, 2020

So the gist is: Marijuana isn't as dangerous as you obviously think it is, and the negative consequences you fear have no basis in fact. In fact, studys show the very opposite: No increase in usage, but less crime, its better for the healthcare system and for the justice system. So the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages.


First, marijuana hardly classifies as 'dangerous'. Alcohol and tobacco are far more dangerous — to oneself and to others, according to every clinical study — and both those drugs are legally available over the counter. Marijuana was scheduled as a class 1 drug mainly for political reasons. conservatives in the Vietnam war era associated marijuana with countercultural activities and resistance to military service, and scheduled it as dangerous in order to have extra leverage against those they considered subversives and insurgents.

Oregon has decriminalized other drugs that are more overtly dangerous (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines...). While I haven't looked into the expressed reasons for this, the common arguments made are that these drugs are 'victimless': A person might harm himself, and cause heartbreak to immediate family, but there is no overt social threat that requires overt social legal restrictions. In other words, even if (say) the myth that heroin addicts steal from others to support their habits were true, the social ill that would need to be addressed is theft, not heroin. Ans we already have laws against theft.

To a large extent, this 'legalize drugs' movement is a reaction to the common practice of using drug charges disproportionately against minorities. For instance, there was one study a decade or two ago which showed that the majority of people (70%, if I remember correctly) arrested for cocaine use were suburban whites, but the majority of people imprisoned for cocaine use (90%, same caveat) were urban blacks. The suburban whites mainly had their charges reduced to misdemeanors, or were diverted to residential treatment programs. Better not to have a law at all, in one way of looking at it, than to have a law that is applied that unjustly.

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    @CGCampbell: Again, I wish I could have a long, cozy, philosophy of science discussion with everyone who makes this kind of comment. I understand the various motivations behind this request (and recognize that in this case the intention is good and high-minded). But contrary to outside appearances I do have a life, and chasing down links to studies I read years ago, or to information that is readily available to anyone with eyes and fingers... that's not my idea of a productive use of time. Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 18:02
  • @CGCampbell: I'll put some effort into it today, precisely because I recognize this is an earnest request (and not, as I often get, a passive-aggressive demand issued to make me waste my time). I'm a sucker for earnest requests. But there's only so much time I can commit to to this kind fo thing. At the end of the day, people will accept or reject this answer on rational grounds; the rest is epiphenomenal. Commented Nov 7, 2020 at 18:11

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