Marijuana Paper - Hannan Merritt American Politics Putnam...

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Hannan Merritt American Politics Putnam Paper Due: April 1 st , 2008 Marijuana Marijuana is defined by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency as “A dry, shredded green/brown mix of flowers, stems, seeds, and leaves of the plant Cannabis sativa” with “The main active chemical” of “THC ( delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol ) ( DEA . gov ) . This plant has lead an interesting life within America that has experienced surges and dips in its approval and disapproval . It the most widely used illicit drug in America with “14 . 6 million” Americans currently using the drug with “36 . 9% of respondents in the 2001 U . S . National Household Survey on Drug Abuse” reporting “using cannabis at least once in their lifetime” ( Mosher 18 ) yet it still remains a Schedule I controlled substance . During the 1960’s a period of great upheaval, social change, and radical thought in our country’s history marijuana was portrayed in the popular media as a substance that’s dangers had been overemphasized by earlier information . This change is a direct result of what Jerome L . Himmelstein calls the “Embourgeoisement Hypothesis” which is a “demographic shift” of marijuana users from minorities to ‘middle-class youth’ . This shift caused a change in the tone of the drug control debate ( 98-99 ) . 1
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Currently the discussion rages about whether marijuana has medicinal value and whether it should be decriminalized or legalized . This debate has two main players: the government which is against any change in current policies on marijuana except for strengthening penalties for those who use and the users of marijuana who are in favor of lessening or completely abolishing current drug laws . The government states their position on three main facts taken from the definition of a Schedule I controlled substance which means that the drug has a “high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision” ( DEA . gov ) . The government conveys a negative view of marijuana to the American public through the media and the public school system . Using television, print, web, and radio media they try to convince the population that marijuana is a dangerous, addictive, and harmful substance . The ads have a series of “recurrent themes that served to demonize the substance and rationalize its prohibition” ( Mosher 6 ) . Many of the common themes are that the “substance causes violence and ‘aberrant’ sexual behaviors… “amotivational syndrome… and that is a ‘gateway’ to the use of harder drugs” ( Mosher 6 ) . These ads receive airtime on national television and in national publications . Another important facet of the government’s disapproval of marijuana is the health
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Marijuana Paper - Hannan Merritt American Politics Putnam...

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