Directions: The following prompt is based on the accompanying sources.
This question requires you to synthesize a variety of sources into a coherent, well-written essay. When you synthesize sources you refer to them to develop your position and cite them accurately. Your argument should be central; the sources should support this argument. Avoid merely summarizing sources.
Remember to attribute both direct and indirect citations.
The "Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2010" is a ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California. Since it has received more than the state's requirement of signatures to be placed on the ballot, voters will decide if it will pass in the upcoming election.
Read the following sources carefully. Then write an essay in which you develop a position on whether or not marijuana should be legalized in California. Synthesize at least five of the sources for support.
Your essay of 7-9 paragraphs should be typed in 12-pt font and double-spaced. Be sure to incorporate 10 different persuasive devices and label them.
The due date is . . This assignment will not be
accepted late. Make arrangements for someone to turn it in for you if you are absent.
You may refer to sources by their titles (Source A, Source B, etc.) or by the descriptions in the parentheses.
Source A (Risling) Source B (Singer) Source C (McKinley) Source D (Myths) Source E (Science) Source F (Crime Source G (Budget) Source H (Tax)
Puff on this: AP-CNBC Poll finds most Americans don't want legalized pot, support medical use GREG RISLING Associated Press Writer 7:26 AM PDT, April 20, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Most Americans still oppose legalizing marijuana but larger majorities believe pot has medical benefits and the government should allow its use for that purpose, according to an Associated Press-CNBC poll released Tuesday.
Respondents were skeptical that crime would spike if marijuana is decriminalized or that it would lead more people to harder drugs like heroin or cocaine. There also was a nearly even split on whether government spends too much or the right amount enforcing marijuana laws. Almost no one thinks too little is spent.
L^ Marijuana use — medically and recreationally — is getting more attention in the political arena.
California voters will decide in November whether to legalize the drug, and South Dakota will vote this fall on whether to allow medical uses. California and 13 other states already permit such use.
The balloting comes against the backdrop of the Obama administration saying it won't target marijuana dispensaries if they comply with state laws, a departure from the policy of the Bush administration, which sought to more stringently enforce the federal ban on marijuana use for any purpose.
In the poll, only 33 percent favor legalization while 55 percent oppose it. People under 30 were the only age group favoring legalization (54 percent) and opposition increased with age, topping out at 73 percent of those 65 and older. Opposition also was prevalent among women, Republicans and those in rural and suburban areas.
Some opponents worried legalization would lead to reefer madness.
"1 think it would be chaos if it was legalized," said Shirley Williams, a 75-year-old retired English teacher from Quincy, 111. "People would get in trouble and use marijuana as an excuse."
Those like Jeff Boggs, 25, of Visalia, Calif, who support legalization said the dangers associated with the drug have been overstated.
"People are scared about things they don't know about," said Boggs, who is married and works for an auto damage appraisal company.
Americans are more accepting of medical marijuana. Sixty percent support the idea and 74 percent believe the drug has a real medical benefit for some people. Two-thirds of Democrats favor medical marijuana as do a slim majority of Republicans, 53 percent.
Peoples' views on legalizing marijuana or on allowing its use for medicinal purposes were largely uniform across different regions of the country, despite the fact that legal medical marijuana use is concentrated in the West.
Bill Hankins, 77, of Mason, Mich., opposes legalizing marijuana but strongly favors using the drug medicinally. Michigan is among the states that allow medical pot.
"It has been shown through tests to alleviate pain in certain medical conditions," said Hankins, who said he experimented with pot when he was younger. If Hankins fell gravely ill and "my doctor said I should have it to control the pain, I would use it," he said.
California was the first state to approve medical marijuana, in 1996, and has been the hub of the so-called "Green Rush" to legalize marijuana. But a patchwork of local laws in the state has created confusion about the law and lax oversight led to an explosion of medical marijuana dispensaries in some places.
In Los Angeles, the number of dispensaries exploded from four to upward of 1,000 in the past five years. Police believe some were nothing but fronts for drug dealers to sell marijuana to people who have no medical need, and the city recently adopted an ordinance to reduce that number to 70 in coming months.
Among those surveyed, 45 percent said the cost of enforcing existing laws is too high and 48 percent said it's about right. Democrats, men and young people were most apt to say the cost is exorbitant.
With state and local governments desperate for cash, some legalization proponents are pushing marijuana as a potential revenue stream. But only 14 percent of those surveyed who oppose legalization would change their mind if states were to tax the drug.
John Lovell, a spokesman with the California Narcotics Officers' Association, said he wasn't surprised by the poll results because people already are aware of widespread abuse of legal prescription drugs and alcohol.
"Given that reality, we don't need to add another mind-altering substance that compromises people's five senses," Lovell said.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that, since the organization was formed in 1970, there's been a slow but steady erosion of opposition to marijuana.
"Every single metric is pushing toward a Zeitgeist in marijuana reform," he said.
Ann Broadus, 58, of Petros, Tenn., strongly opposes, legalization and medicinal use, but even she sees the day when the laws will change.
"Probably somewhere down the road it will be legalized, but I hope not," she said. "I think if it becomes legal, these druggies would be worse off."
The AP-CNBC Poll was conducted April 7-12, 2010, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. It involved interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide on landline and cellular telephones. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
confounded legalization advocates, rendering their FAQs nearly irrelevant and plunging them into
an unfamiliar debate: OK, say we legalize pot. How should we tax it?
The question is, not surprisingly, popular in California, which has a $24 billion deficit. In February, one lawmaker introduced a bill to tax and regulate cannabis sales to any adult over 21 at any licensed establishment—and in April, a poll found that 56 percent of Californians supported the idea. In May, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said it was "time for debate" about legalizing and taxing marijuana. Other states facing similar fiscal woes, such as Illinois, are considering proposals that would legalize and tax either medical or all marijuana. Sensing opportunity, marijuana-reform lobbyists have enticed legislators with promises of fat tax revenues, as high as $1 billion annually in California.
Reform advocates are nearly unanimous in support of a marijuana tax similar in structure to taxes on tobacco and alcohol if it coincides with the drug's legalization. "This is the only constituency out there that's going to say, 'Bring it on; tax us,'" says Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. But that's about where the agreement ends. The debate has been vicious at board meetings of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "There's a lot of blood all over the table," says Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director. "It's probably one of the most contentious issues that the board takes up."
Tax debates often get heated, but a marijuana tax is particularly divisive because it's so speculative. (After 70-plus years of illegality, little is known about the economics of the drug.) A cannabis tax could be like an excise tax (a point-of-sales tax added to any sales tax, as exists in many places for gasoline, alcohol, cigarettes, and, potentially, soda), or it could be a pricey license to sell the product. Either method would increase the cost to consumers, who would in turn buy less of the product—a public health benefit in either instance. And unless people buy drastically less soda or pot, the government will pocket some extra cash. So far, it seems like a win-win situation.
But there are complications. One is the thriving black market for marijuana, with sales valued, albeit shakily, as high as $100 billion a year. A high tax could keep the market underground, robbing the government of tax revenue. The theory is that John Q. Pothead would be willing to pay
a premium so he can "go to a regulated establishment that can assure some level of safety and
elmg," says Houston of the Marijuana Policy Project. But make the premium too high, he says
and users will just go to "that shady guy" on the corner. The problem is that nobody really knows'
what the optimum premium is. /"''^*\
Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist and proponent of broad drug decriminalization, suggests that we look to alcohol and cigarette taxes as a model for a potential cannabis tax. Even with so-called "sin taxes" of up to 90 percent of the total price, illegal markets, once widespread, account for a tiny fraction of total sales. Miron warns that initial marijuana taxes at such a level "would just be a total mess" due to the expansiveness of the black market and ease of growing marijuana at home. Instead he recommends starting with a low tax—perhaps at 25 percent of the total price—and then gradually increasing it.
Of course, these relative numbers beg the question: What will the initial, untaxed price be? According to Lee, marijuana averages about $300 per ounce in the Bay Area (and the bill currently under consideration in the slate Legislature would tax pot at $50 per ounce—far higher than Oakland's dispensaries are paying now). A few reform advocates have tried to crunch the numbers. Dale Gieringer, who coordinates NORML's California branch, estimated in 1994 that free-market, untaxed pot would cost just 5 cents to 10 cents per joint, a potency-constant measure. Even adjusted for inflation, that's still at least 100 times cheaper than today's marijuana prices, according to Gieringer.
But if history and the proposed soda tax are any guide, marijuana may end up among the most expensive intoxicants. Federal and state health departments have been "nudging" the public for decades to reduce the demand for tobacco, which has decreased roughly 4 percent for every 10 percent increase in price. Politicians and economists defend these Pigovian taxes as balancing the public health costs of cigarettes, as they would for marijuana. (Much of this argument would depend on whether legalizing marijuana causes a rise or a decline in alcohol consumption.)
Whatever they do, governments that tax marijuana will have to balance a trio of related goals-reducing budget deficits, eradicating the black market, and improving public health. Inevitably, one goal will get the short end of the spliff. Harvard's Miron predicts that governments will give priority to reducing deficits in the current round of pot-reform debates. It's not the best argument for legalization, says Miron, who has estimated that U.S. governments could save almost SI 3 billion
annually if they no longer arrested, prosecuted, or imprisoned marijuana buyers or sellers. But in an era of falling tax revenue, it may be the most effective one.
Legal-Marijuana Advocates Focus on a
New Green$OW*6£ G? , \
By JESSE McKINLEYCl^C^t I ^**^/|
SAN FRANCISCO — Perhaps only in California could a group of marijuana smokers call *
themselves fiscal realists.
And yet, faced with a $20 billion deficit, strained state services and regular legislative paralysis, voters in California are now set to consider a single-word solution to help ease some of the state's money troubles: legalize.
On Wednesday, the California secretary of state certified a November vote on a ballot measure that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, a plan that advocates say could raise $1.4 billion and save precious law enforcement and prison resources.
Indeed, unlike previous efforts at legalization — including a failed 1972 measure in California — the 2010 campaign will not dwell on assertions of marijuana's harmlessness or its social acceptance, but rather on cold cash.
"We need the tax money," said Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University, a trade school for marijuana growers, in Oakland, who backed the ballot measure's successful petition drive. "Second, we need the tax savings on police and law enforcement, and have that law enforcement directed towards real crime."
Supporters are hoping to raise $10 million to $20 million for the campaign, primarily on the Internet, with national groups planning to urge marijuana fans to contribute $4.20 at a time, a nod to 420, a popular shorthand for the drug.
The law would permit licensed retailers to sell up to one ounce at a time. Those sales would be a new source of sales tax revenue for the state.
Opponents, however, scoff at the notion that legalizing marijuana could somehow help with
the state's woes. They tick off a list of social ills - including tardiness and absenteeism in the workplace — that such an act would contribute to.
"We just don't think any good is going to come from this," said John Standish, president of the California Peace Officers Association, whose 3,800 members include police chiefs and sheriffs. "It's not going to better society. It's going to denigrate it."
The question of legalization, which a 2009 Field Poll showed 56 percent of Californians supporting, will undoubtedly color the state race for governor. The two major Republican candidates - the former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and the insurance commissioner, Steve Poizner — have said they oppose the bill.
Jerry Brown, the Democratic attorney general who is also running for governor, opposes the idea as well, saying it violates federal law.
And while the Obama administration has signaled that it will tolerate medical marijuana users who abide the law in the 14 states where it is legal, a law authorizing personal use would conflict with federal law.
Supporters of the bill say the proposal's language would allow cities or local governments to opt out, likely creating "dry counties" in some parts of the state. The proposed law would allow only those over 21 to buy, and would ban smoking marijuana in public or around minors.
Stephen Gutwillig, the California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based group that plans to raise money in favor of the measure, said he expected "a conservative implementation," if passed.
"I think most local jurisdictions are not going to authorize sales," Mr. Gutwillig said.
Local opt-out provisions are part of a strategy to allay people's fears about adding another legal vice and to help capture a group considered key to passing the bill: non-pot-smoking swing voters.
"There's going to be a large sector of the electorate that would never do this themselves that's going to sort out what the harm would be versus what the supposed good would be," said Frank Schubert, a longtime California political strategist who opposes the bill. "That's where the election is going to be won."
But Dan Newman, a San Francisco-based strategist for the ballot measure, said he expected broad, bipartisan support for the bill, especially among those Californians worried about the
"Voters' No. i concern right now is the budget and the economy," Mr. Newman said, "which makes them look particularly favorable at something that will bring in more than $1 billion a year." Opponents, however, question that figure — which is based on a 2009 report from the Board of Equalization, which oversees taxes in the state — and argue that whatever income is brought in will be spent dealing with more marijuana-related crimes.
Mr. Standish said: "We have a hard enough time now with drunk drivers on the road. This is just going to add to the problems."
He added: "I cannot think of one crime scene I've been to where people said, 'Thank God the person was just under the influence of marijuana.''
Drug Legalization: Myths and Misconceptions - US Dept. of Justice
Chapter One: Addiction Rates And Drug Legalization
Proponents of drug legalization argue that legalizing drugs would decrease addiction rates for two reasons. First, they maintain, people use drugs because they are illegal - that is, people get a thrill breaking a social taboo. Legalize drugs and the incentive to take them will go away. Second, proponents of legalization argue that if drugs were legalized, we could spend the money that we presently spend on the criminal justice system on treatment of addicts.2
Before addressing the particular merits of the legalization debate, it is useful to describe just what is an addiction. Addictions are either physical or psychological. Physical addiction occurs when the body becomes dependent upon chemicals or drugs not normally found in the human body and requires such chemicals in order to sustain basic bodily functions. Take, for instance, cocaine addiction. Cocaine alters the means by which brain cells communicate with one another. Usually, nerve cells (neurons) send signals to one another through chemical neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Dopamine flows from one neuron to the other, delivers its message, and returns to the original neuron. Cocaine, however, blocks the dopamine from returning to the first cell, and the first cell just keeps firing away. This explains why cocaine produces such feelings of pleasure; for lack of a better description, cocaine locks all of the user's neurons into an "On" position. The problem occurs when all of the cocaine has been metabolized by the body. As Professor James Q. Wilson explains, "[w]hen the exaggerated high produced by cocaine-influenced dopamine finally ends, the brain cells may (in ways that are still a matter of dispute) suffer from an extreme lack of dopamine, thereby making the individual unable to experience any pleasure at all."3 This is a very simplified model, of course, and different drugs affect the body in different ways, but a simple fact remains - physical addiction is biochemical in nature and is independent of social, political, or psychological causes.
There is another type of addiction, however, that being psychological addiction. Unlike physical addiction, which basically is a medical condition, psychological addiction occurs when the individual user feels or is of the opinion that drugs are necessary for his or her life. This is not to suggest that psychological addiction is easily dismissed; indeed it can have a profound influence on how addicts live their lives. Such especially is the case when addicts live in a culture that continually reinforces the desirability or necessity of drug use.
Let us examine addiction specific to two drugs: cocaine and marijuana. Although rough, estimates suggest that there are between 650,000 and 2.4 million cocaine addicts in the United States.4 "Cocaine is a much more addictive drug than alcohol. If cocaine were legally available
the number of cocaine abusers would probably rise to...perhaps 20-25million."5 Mitchell Rosenthal, President of the Phoenix House drug-rehabilitation program states that cheap available drugs would increase addiction; only 10% of drinkers become hooked, while an estimated 75% of regular drug (crack) users could become addicts.6 Scientific studies agree, noting that when given unlimited access to cocaine, laboratory animals will consume increasingly greater amounts until they die.7 That cocaine is harmful to one's health likely will come as a surprise to no one. Dr. Frank H. Gawin, director of stimulant abuse, treatment and research at Yale University concludes that cocaine causes depression, paranoia, and "violent psychotic behavior."8 What is worse, there is presently no effective, permanent treatment for cocaine addiction.9
Almost everyone would agree that cocaine is a dangerous, addictive drug, but many would be surprised to find that the same is true of marijuana. Although it is very difficult to determine the precise number of marijuana users and addicts in the United States, one fact is clear: marijuana has become much more potent over the last twenty years. Cannabis delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as "THC," is the active ingredient in marijuana and other cannabis such as hashish. The THC content in marijuana during the days of Woodstock was something less than 1%. In 1974, the average THC content of illicit marijuana was 0. 36% and by 1984 had increased to 4.40%. 10 In 1992 in Alaska, marijuana was discovered that had a THC content of 29.86%. 11 Now stop and think about that for a minute. Today's marijuana may be between thirty to sixty times as potent as were the joints of the 1960's.
This observation gives one pause when we realize that THC is both dangerous and habit-forming. Marinol, a prescription drug that is very occasionally used in the treatment of nausea associated with chemotherapy, is chemically synthesized THC. Most people are familiar with the information sheets that come with prescription drugs - the pieces of paper that detail the indications and usage of the drug in question, its potential side-effects, its chemical composition, etc. The information sheet that comes with Marinol states verbatim, "MARINOL is highly abusable and can produce both physical and psychological dependence .... Patients receiving MARINOL should be closely observed." 12 The company that produces Marinol goes on to explain that its THC may cause "changes in mood ... decrements in cognitive performance and memory, a decreased ability to control drives and impulses [and] ... a full-blown picture of psychosis (psychotic organic brain syndrome) may occur in patients receiving doses within the lower portion of the therapeutic range." 13
Such warnings should not surprise the scientists who have for many years maintained that the THC contained in marijuana is dangerous. First, in the late 1960's Dr. Robert Heath, then chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Tulane Medical School, found that marijuana affects brain waves and destroys brain cells. 14 Second, a study conducted by Dr. Ethel Sassenrath at the University of California at Davis between 1974 and 1978 found that THC increased the rate of fetal loss (in utero, fetal death) in monkeys by over 300%, while at the same time decreasing the birth weights in those babies born alive. 15 Third, a study by Dr. Susan Dalterio, at the University of Texas found that marijuana decreased testosterone and impaired sexual development in male mice. 16 Finally, a study by Dr. Albert Munson found that injections of THC suppressed the immune systems of mice and made them 96 times more susceptible to the herpes virus. 17
uanaUse Takes Toll On Adolescent Brain Function, Research hinds unp://www.b
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Krista Lisdahl Medina. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Cincinnati)
Marijuana Use Takes Toll On Adolescent Brain Function, Research Finds
ScienceDaily (Oct. 15, 2008) — Brain imaging shows that the brains of teens that use marijuana are working harder than the brains of their peers who abstain from the drug.
Health & Medicine
Mind & Brain
At the 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in Boston, Mass., Krista Lisdahl Medina, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of psychology, presented collaborative research with Susan Tapert, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
Medina's Oct. 12 presentation, titled, "Neuroimaging Marijuana Use and its Effects on Cognitive Function," suggests that chronic, heavy marijuana use during adolescence - a critical period of ongoing brain development - is associated with poorer performance on thinking tasks, including slower psychomotor speed and poorer complex attention, verbal memory
and planning ability Medina says that's evident even after a month of stopping marijuana use. She says that while recent findings suggest partial recovery of verbal memory functioning within the first three weeks of adolescent abstinence from marijuana, complex attention skills continue to be affected.
"Not only are their thinking abilities worse, their brain activation to cognitive tasks is abnormal. The tasks are fairly easy, such as remembering the location of objects, and they may be able to complete the tasks, but what we see is that adolescent marijuana users are using more of their parietal and frontal cortices to complete the tasks. Their brain is working harder than it should," Medina says.
She adds that recent findings suggest females may be at increased risk for the neurocognitive consequences of marijuana use during adolescence, as studies found that teenage girls had marginally larger prefrontal cortex (RFC) volumes compared to girls who did not smoke marijuana.
Crime - Data
(2008) Although people may think that the Drug War targets drug smugglers and 'King Pins,' in 2008, 49.8 percent (half) of the 1,702,537 total arrests for drug abuse violations were for marijuana — a total of 847,863. Of those, 754,224 people were arrested for marijuana possession alone. By contrast in 2000 a total of 734,497 Americans were arrested for marijuana offenses, of which 646,042 were for possession alone.
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Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States
Read the executive summary of the report
Read the complete report Endorsing Economists In the News About the Author
Further information about marijuana policy
Government prohibition of marijuana is the subject of ongoing debate.
One issue in this debate is the effect of marijuana prohibition on government budgets. F
entails direct enforcement costs and prevents taxation of marijuana production and sale
This report examines the budgetary implications of legalizing marijuana—taxing and reg
other goods—in all fifty states and at the federal level.
The report estimates that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in goverr
expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. $5.3 billion of this savings would accrue to si
local governments, while $2.4 billion would accrue to the federal government.
The report also estimates that marijuana legalization would yield tax revenue of $2.4 bill
if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were t£
comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.
Whether marijuana legalization is a desirable policy depends on many factors other thai
budgetary impacts discussed here. But these impacts should be included in a rational d
This site is paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project, P.O. Box 77492, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. 20013