The issue of drug use has both a moral and legal dimension. On the one hand, even if drug use is legal, we can ask whether the use of such drugs is immoral. Just because the law permits me to do something doesn’t mean that I should do it—such as smoking or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. On the other hand, even if it is immoral to take drugs, we can still ask whether the use of such drugs should be illegal. The law permits us to do a range of immoral activities, such lying to others or cheating on one’s spouse. While these are things that we shouldn’t do morally speaking, at the same time we don’t want our laws telling us how to conduct our private lives. For the moment, let’s set aside the issue of whether drugs should be illegal and look specifically at whether drug use is immoral. We’ll consider two lines of thought: one based on the pleasure that drugs bring to the user, and another based on the duty to avoid harming oneself and others through drug use.
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