Would you agree that law is necessary to maintain an orderly society? And if so, would you agree that law has to have a moral component attached to it? Common sense seems to dictate as much. But increasingly, we are seeing both lawmakers and the general public take morality out of the equation. The result is morality-free law that creates a dangerous vacuum.
By definition, law determines what is right and wrong in an orderly society. The question in any society is what its laws are based on. Morality has been the traditional basis for millennia. But as modern society moves away from morality, law has to be established from some other foundation. This is where the problem begins.
Is murder wrong only because federal and state laws classify it as a felony, or is it wrong for moral reasons? If federal and state laws are the only consideration, then all it would take to move murder from the ‘wrong’ column into the ‘right’ column is a change in law. Just decriminalize murder and then it is okay. But if murder is wrong from a moral standpoint, it remains wrong even if the law changes.
No Morality Equals a Vacuum
Taking morality out of the lawmaking process creates a vacuum. More specifically, it creates a vacuum of standards. What is right and wrong becomes a matter of the standards of the day. When standards change, so do right and wrong. What was considered abhorrent generations ago could be completely right and acceptable tomorrow.
The principle is clearly seen in the cannabis space. Up until about thirty years ago, there was a moral component attached to using marijuana. Marijuana, like alcohol in the 1920s, was considered a vice. State and local laws kept marijuana in check until Washington finally classified the drug as a Schedule I controlled substance in the 1970s.
Today, thirty-seven states have legal medical cannabis programs in place; eighteen have legalized recreational marijuana. All of this despite the fact that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. So what happened? Morality was taken out of the equation.
Open the Door with Medical Cannabis
Nearly every state with legal recreational marijuana started with medical cannabis. Why? Because that’s how marijuana advocates get it done. They open the door by first advancing medical cannabis as both compassionate and morally acceptable. It worked equally well in liberal and conservative states.
Once medical cannabis has been established for a few years, advocates start pushing for recreational use and complete decriminalization. And once they get that, they turn the tables and throw out the morality altogether.
Utah’s medical cannabis law is one of the strictest in the country, according to Salt Lake City dispensary Beehive Farmacy. It took a while to get medical cannabis approved there. Guess what? Advocates are now working on recreational legalization. They are following the script.
Law Without Morality Is Chaos
The danger in all of this is that law without morality leads to chaos. How strange that a nation openly embracing mind-altering substances still largely frowns on prostitution. But that is what happens when morality is removed from law. And for the record, taking morality out of the cannabis question is gradually opening the door to psychedelics. States are already looking at legalizing things like magic mushrooms and the infamous blue toad.
Without morality, law exists in a vacuum of standards. Those in control define the law. And when their standards change, their arbitrary laws change too. It is a dangerous situation that often leads to totalitarianism. Take morality out of the equation and what do you have left?