I originally thought that I wanted to write my White Paper on something regarding the environment since that is a strong interest of mine. My past two proposals were on the topic of coal mining and coal-fired power plants, but after doing some initial research I decided that I chose that topic because it seemed safe. On top of that, it seems pretty boring as well! I have decided to change my topic to the legalization of marijuana since I wrote a blog post on the topic and enjoyed learning about it.
Since I have done proposals on business and society, this proposal will use two government sources: The White House’s website on drug control policy and the National Conference of State Legislatures page on state medical marijuana laws. The federal government still strongly believes in maintaining marijuana’s classification as an illegal substance, while several states have taken steps towards legalizing it. Currently 18 states and D.C. have laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. Very recently, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational use of marijuana in Amendment 64 and Initiative 502, respectively.
The White House page opens by stating that, “marijuana and other illicit drugs are addictive and unsafe especially for use by young people.” It then goes into its risks, for example its ability to alter brain function, association with respiratory and mental illness, and its potential for addiction. According to the page, marijuana prevalence has drastically increased in recent years, especially in high schools. It blames proponents of medical marijuana for spreading confusing messages regarding its potentially harmful effects. While it describes the medical legalization process, it casts a very negative light over the possibility, citing that organizations such as the American Cancer Society do not support the use of smoked medical marijuana.
On the other hand, the National Conference of State Legislatures page provides a much more positive overview of the topic. A report from the Institute of Medicine states that, “scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation; smoked marijuana, however, is a crude THC delivery system that also delivers harmful substances.” While this acknowledges marijuana’s potential harmful effects, it also notes its positive medical benefits. The page then goes into describing state versus federal perspective on the issue. The laws regarding medical marijuana are still evolving as there are many questions regarding regulating prescriptions, dispensing the drugs, and registering approved patients.
Both of these sources provide useful data on the issue of marijuana legalization. Since I am going to argue for the legalization of the drug, I will be disagreeing with most of what the White House page states and will likely cite a lot from the State Legislatures page. Both of these sources are government based, so the information in them is definitely trustworthy. Still, they are both biased. It is clear that the White House’s page only provides information to support the fight against the legalization of marijuana, while the State Legislature page is a source for information supporting states’ rights to make their own legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana.