Question about Legalizing Marijuana

Question about Legalizing Marijuana October 24, 2014

A reader asks:

Can Catholics support legalizing marijuana based on the Principle of the Toleration of Evil?

I read a blog post arguing that Catholics can support the legalization of marijuana based on the Principle of the Toleration of Evil which the author supports with this quote from Pope Leo XIII:

…as the authority of man is powerless to prevent every evil, it has (as St. Augustine says) to overlook and leave unpunished many things which are punished, and rightly, by Divine Providence. But if, in such circumstances, for the sake of the common good (and this is the only legitimate reason),human law may or even should tolerate evil, it may not and should not approve or desire evil for its own sake; for evil of itself, being a privation of good, is opposed to the common welfare which every legislator is bound to desire and defend to the best of his ability. In this, human law must endeavor to imitate God, who, as St. Thomas teaches, in allowing evil to exist in the world, “neither wills evil to be done, nor wills it not to be done, but wills only to permit it to be done; and this is good.”

The author concludes his post with this sentence:
So, you need not wonder whether your Catholic faith demands that you oppose marijuana legalization—it doesn’t!

Personally, I don’t support legalizing marijuana, but I’m wondering if this principle is being applied correctly. Can Catholics support legalizing marijuana based on the Principle of the Toleration of Evil?

What are your thoughts?

I think that a case can definitely be made the the War on Drugs–and particularly on marijuana–has created far more evils than it prevents.  I class it with such disastrous social experiments as Prohibition in its cost/benefit ratio.

I do think that some of hard and profoundly destructive drugs–meth, for instance–should be prohibited.

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