Political Science



Ethics of Marijuana Business

Chihyu Chu (George)

University of La Verne

Ethics of Marijuana Business


This case is an ethical analysis concerning the situation in Los Angeles County where some cities are disinclined to the county’s legalization of bhang. The matter raises an ethical question of whether it is proper for the disapproving cities to be forced to adopt the new legislation without regard to interests and concerns of the citizens. This matter raises questions about the challenges of accountability and responsibility with regard to the role of the administration versus the interests of the citizens. In determining the ethical dimension on this matter, one issue that arises is whether the administrative powers of the county should surpass and override the rights, interests, and duties of disapproving citizens.

On the whole, the proposal inclines to the view that it is improper and unethical for the county of Los Angeles to force the cities to embrace the new laws regardless of their genuine concerns. This proposal is of great interest because it calls to question the ethics of governance and the responsibility of the authorities towards the citizens. The topic also encourages the interrogation into the ethical merits of the new laws that have legalized bang in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions within the United States. The legalization of marijuana business in parts of the United States has elicited concerns from various sections of the society regarding the dangers and risks that could follow (Caulkins, 2016). The current policies require those handling the business in California to be registered and to operate in accordance with the established regulations.

Problem Definition

A vote passed on Prop. 64 on November 8, 2016, provided that the use of cannabis by adults for recreation is legal in California (Lopez, 2018). The laws provide that adults above the age of 21 may possess, give away, or use in private up to a single ounce of cannabis. The same laws also provide that the adults may cultivate not in excess of six plants intended for personal use in their residences. The new laws also allow for the commercial sale of marijuana, its distribution, and production for adults within state-licensed facilities as from January 1, 2018. According to the new laws, county governments and local cities may choose to ban or restrict consumption of recreational marijuana within their jurisdictions.

The cities are rejecting the new marijuana laws because they are likely to encourage its usage across the wider population in a way that might escalate some of the social problems that are associated with the drug. Crime and homelessness are some of the challenges that are likely to arise from the increased use of marijuana. The consumption of marijuana is projected for a drastic increase in California in the wake of the new laws. Analysts project that the market for recreational cannabis in California is likely to reach $3.7 billion in 2018, (Lopez, 2018). The same indicators suggest that the market is likely to surpass $5 billion by 2019. In view of these facts, there are concerns that the current social problems that California has faced over the past years concerning drugs and substances are bound to multiply.

From a utilitarian ethical perspective, the concerns and fears raised by the majority in the cities make the use of the substance improper. The greatest good in this context is to protect the public from crime, homelessness, and the other problems that are associated with the usage of marijuana. The current laws are more inclined towards the interest of the majority of people who use the substance in California. Since the laws have been resisted in some parts of California, they fall short of the deontological perspectives of what is ethical.

On the contrary, many social analysts have encouraged cities to implement the new laws because they will enable them to control the use of the substance within their jurisdictions. The widely shared view is that it is easier to control the consumption of a legal substance compared to an illegal substance. The ease of control derives from the advantage of visibility, which is impossible or problematic with illegal substances. Moreover, controlling the marijuana business will provide the cities with new sources of revenue, which might be utilized to finance health care.

Solutions and Recommendations

One of the recommendations is for cities to adopt the new laws and customize them in a manner that addresses their concerns. Such a move will ensure that interests of the majority have been catered for without undermining those of the minority users. The cities should focus on how to manage the taxes derived from the lucrative marijuana business to broaden their rehabilitation facilities and promote educational services that prevent nonusers from the temptation of drug and substance abuse. Another proposal is for the cities to seek preferential legal allowances from the county for them to disallow the practice.


Ultimately, the county should review its move in a manner that will address concerns of cities and citizens. Such a move would be ethical within both the utilitarian and deontological perspectives. There are legal ways in which the cities may engage the county in a way that would promote a common position that inclined to the concerns of the majority. The county administration should acknowledge the fact that its policies and laws should incline towards public good.


Caulkins, J. P. (2016). Marijuana legalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lopez, G. (2018). California’s new legal marijuans market marks the beginning of the end for prohibition. vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/2/16840600/california-marijuana-legalization

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