Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

“Marijuana is a gateway drug” is something everyone who smokes weed has heard at least once. For a long period of time a majority of the US population believed marijuana to be this malevolent force that brainwashed its users and perceived it as something negative in society, but that has changed. Recent polls show that up to 61% of americans support the legalization of cannabis and by showing how other states have benefited from legalizing it, that number can climb even higher and maybe it can finally become recreationally legalized in Arizona. Writer Dan Clarendon, wrote “9 ways Californians might benefit from the legalization of marijuana,” published in 2018 in Aplus. Dan builds his credibility with reputable sources, citing surprising statistics and facts, successfully employing ethos. Throughout the whole article he is able to maintain the credibility of his argument.
Dans’ article states 9 of many benefits not just California, but the rest of the states can enjoy by simply legalizing marijuana, and although it sounds easy to do that is not the case at all. In 2016 a bill in Arizona was proposed to legalize recreational use of cannabis, but was shot down by a measly 2.6% and in 2018 the bill didn’t even reach the ballot. Dan argues that although it has its few downsides, just like cigarettes and alcohol, weed has a wide range of positive benefits that will help more than just the consumer. The purpose of his article is to educate people on how states can profit from legalizing the very controversial plant, and ultimately to persuade readers that they should vote to legalize weed. All through his write-up Dan incorporates the use of logos and ethos, also somewhat using pathos, to persuade his readers who might be people looking for reason to turn marijuana pro such as parents of an user. The use of all 3 rhetorical strategies allows Dan to alter the opinions of people with views contrary to his own. Dan starts off his article with a powerful statement: ” This new law comes with downsides, of course — marijuana carries long-term health risks and DUI and DWI cases may increase — but a lot of upsides, too. Here’s a list of some of those benefits, including a few that may come as a surprise.” By beginning with this statement Dan immediately implements pathos into his writing.
Although very vague and seemingly unmeaningful at first glance, if you really think about it Dan’s statement can invoke feelings of surprise and curiosity. The readers can feel a different range of emotions from that statement, but the provokement from one emotional response is sufficient to grab the attention of the reader and their interests to begin to align their views with that of his own. Towards the end of his article Dan implements pathos. He says ,” California legalized medical cannabis in 1996, but now everyone has access to marijuana’s purported health benefits.” This sentence lets Dan appeal to his audience’s emotions. It is evident that the sentence is directed towards people affected by the medical conditions he later states in that paragraph. Consequently, when a patient reads that sentence, it makes them feel recognized and relieved that they can finally (legally) receive the medication that they require. From reading the paragraph that contains the sentence above, people suffering from any of the listed conditions, especially those living with mental illnesses would take Dans opinion as recognition, since his sentence suggests that mental illnesses are a medical condition, one which is often overlooked by others who’ve never experienced them.
Often people who advocate for and partake in the consumption of marijuana are labeled as stoners who are seen as lazy, unmotivated, forgetful, and dumb but that is not true in the slightest bit. There are many challenges Dan (and just about everyone else who consumes pot) has to overcome in his personal and professional life. Readers might be quick to disregard Dan just because they have the idea in their heads that Dan is delusional, untrustworthy, and a criminal just because he advocates for the legalization of cannabis. Readers might question Dan’s credibility, thinking that he is just another stoner feeding lies to the media and trying to make excuses and validate the reasons he and others smoke. There are several ways Dan shows the reader that being a stoner does not mean he is a bad person or untrustworthy, but simply someone who smokes weed. He begins jumping over the Ethos hurdle of being labeled as a stoner with some logos and ethos of his own. Dan begins by saying that marijuana can and has created jobs in an economy that needs them. Nearly 4% of the United States in currently unemployed, and almost 5% of Arizonans are unemployed. Dan says that in Colorado the legal marijuana industry created roughly around 18,000 new full time jobs. These are 18,000 jobs which could become available in Arizona if marijuana would be legalized. Dan including job growth in his article could lead readers to believe he is responsible and aware of the job market, and the fact that he has a job with a credible company should add more credibility to his work. In his article Dan also mentions a “reduced black market” and a “changed war on drugs” which redirects the thought that he’s a criminal and a bad person. If you were a bad person you would not benefit from having less access to the black market and a lesser percentage of dealers to illegally buy from. The Marijuana Policy Group in Colorado estimates that by 2020 only 10% of the market will be under the ground and 90% of the market will be sold by licensed and regulated dealers. He included this in his article to add more logos and ethos to his argument. The ethos could be directed towards the parents of users, easing their minds with a promise of a safer market and showing that he cares about their children and their well-being. He adds facts, statistics, and evidence to strengthen his argument and to further strengthen his credibility.
In the last couple of years the topic of legalizing marijuana has become an increasingly controversial discussion. At first thought it feels as if cannabis should and will be illegal forever. However, if one thinks about it and really educates themselves on the issue, it becomes evident that there aren’t many cons and a plethora of pros. Dan agrees that if marijuana is to be legalized it needs to be strictly regulated because it can provide jobs, increase federal tax revenue, reduce the black market, change the war on drugs, reduce harm amongst opioid users, and increase level of life satisfaction for people diagnosed with cancer. Legalizing marijuana would be of benefit to the whole population. There has not been one death caused by the consumption of cannabis, but there are many with THC substitutes like dronabinol. If marijuana would just be legalized people who are prescribed marinol would not be at risk of dying and their loved one would not have to worry about losing them. Another reason Dan believes marijuana should be legalized is because there is the ability to regulate and tax it. Taxing legal marijuana will increase Arizona state revenue by the billions, money that can go to schools and help further research the drug to increase its safety. Regulating marijuana will help decrease crime rates in Arizona and practically any other state its legalized in. By legalizing and regulating marijuana would dramatically decrease the number of people illegally dealing marijuana Arizona, since their customers would rather turn to dispensaries which provide a safe and legal environment. Subsequently, this would lead to lower drug related crimes. 52% of all drug arrest in 2010 were marijuana related and black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested than white people. Less people would be arrested and sent to jail for drug charges and since a lot of our tax dollars pay for prisons and jails, this could also lead to a decrease in taxes. By seeing and understanding how other states have and can benefit from the legalization of marijuana, there is hope that it can be legalized in our beautiful state of Arizona.

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