Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2015

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Laurence Thomas

Honors Reader

Prof. Dana Radcliffe

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component



drug policy, prohibition

Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy


In this essay I will lay out two distinct but associated arguments that will show that United States drug policy on is both in principle and in practice unjustifiable. I will be focusing specifically on marijuana cocaine and heroin. While there are many controlled substances in the DEA schedules, I take it that showing current policy to be unjustifiable for these three substances will be sufficient to show that the policy of total prohibition and harsh punishment is wrong. The first section will normatively analyze the current policies of prohibition and punishment for use and sale of illicit substances. I will first show that our attitude towards certain psychoactive substances is hypocritical given our attitudes towards others. We allow the use of alcohol and tobacco, both substances that are deadly, addictive, and intoxicating, while disallowing the use of substances with similar levels of harm to the body. While there are many arguments that focus on the fact that some of these drugs (particularly marijuana) cause less organic damage to the body, I will argue that even if they are just as damaging as alcohol or tobacco, their prohibition is still unacceptable. As well, there are other dangerous but legal behaviors that we allow etiher because we think that people ought to be able to make their own decision knowing the risks or because we think a person has the right to do themselves harm if they wish.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.



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