Whenever a topic is raised that involves censorship or the legalisation of something that is currently illegal opinions and reasons always clash. I will point out that I will not air my views in this post. I am merely observing an argument.
Lets look today at two topics. Prostitution and Cannabis. I think the key to considering both arguments are not to let individuals decide what is morally right or wrong but instead to consider the merits of legalisation for society. We need to look at the problems currently faced by society and look at if these would be solved, reduced or increased if they were legalised. Sex between consenting adults should be legal surely? Regardless of if payment or reward is part of the act. Morally I see the objection. What of people who can't for one reason or another go on a date? Should they be denied the joys of the flesh? A basic human instinct?
Sexual relations are handled differently in countries around the world. Most countries encourage varied forms of monogamy, others polygyny. Even in the case of monogamy, there are numerous countries that impose no restrictions on prostitution, unlike a majority of the communities within the United States and the UK.
In order to discover if legalization is proper, one has to first familiarize oneself with the U.S. prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and the legalization of abortion in the 1970s. The implementation of prohibition was a result of an abolitionist philosophy and caused great harm to the country through lost taxes, increased crime rates and higher suicide rates. Similarly, when the U.S. abandoned its abolitionist stand on abortion, the country benefited from fewer deaths from botched back alley abortions. This proved prohibitionist thinking to be baseless and actually detrimental to communities.
There are many benefits to legalized prostitution. The benefits include (1) allowing law enforcement agencies to respond to more important crimes, (2) freeing justice systems from nuisance cases, (3) helping women who are trapped by prostitution, and (4) preventing teens from being ensnared into prostitution.
When data from countries that ban prostitution is compared with data from countries that do not, many startling discoveries can be observed. Countries without anti-prostitution laws have less murders, less rapes, and prosecute/imprison less people. HIV/AIDS is less of a problem; suicide rates are lower as are divorce rates, too.
Critics of the legalization of prostitution offer no alternative to a troublesome problem. These people would rather adopt the status quo model, which virtually abandons lower strata, low socio-economic prostitutes. Instead of managing the problem, these critics view the continued downward spiral of this subgroup as acceptable.
The critics of legalized prostitution rest comfortably within relatively new moral codes. The religions that now reject prostitution once used to manage it. However, even though religionists publicly denounce prostitution, too many hypocritically entertain like services and commit adultery. The Catholic Church has covered up institutional paedophilia at the expense of demeaning religious values and the lives of those who aspire to follow them*.
Enlightened people within civilized societies pride themselves on the contributions made to others who are less fortunate. Low strata prostitutes clearly rest within the domain of the less fortunate, but the countries who cling to anti-prostitution laws choose to abandon these people and thereby negatively affect the crime, health, and general safety of those nations. One must reconsider whether or not those countries are truly civilized.
The same argument can then be applied to Cannabis. Is there any reason not to legalise it? The people who use Cannabis will use it regardless of it's legal status. Currently the Cannabis trade around the world turns over billions of dollars in revenue. This could be taxed, regulated and would in one swoop reduce gun crime, gang fights, and access to cannabis by minors. There is absolutely no reason why a substance such as cannabis which has no worse effect than alcohol or tobacco on a persons health remains illegal.
Is it time to rethink why such things are illegal?
*references - Liberator, M. (2004) Legalized Prostitution: Regulating the Oldest Profession.