Speech 3: Persuasive Speech Why marijuana should be legalized in the United States

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Dana Thau

Speech 3: Persuasive Speech

Why marijuana should be legalized in the United States:

When I bring up the words pot, weed, joint, bong, etc. what first comes to your mind? I’m betting that most of you are probably thinking about the drug marijuana and maybe even thinking about your plans to use it later being that today is that special holiday. Now, I don’t want anyone to confess to using it, because after all, it is illegal and anyone who uses it can get into legal trouble. But that is what I want to talk about with you today. Should marijuana really be illegal? What about the differences between medicinal use and recreational use; should there be a distinction in the law? The issue of legalizing marijuana in the United States has been discussed for several years now. Marijuana is thought of as being dangerous but in fact, it is really misunderstood in those regards. There are many reasons why medicinal marijuana can help those who need it and there are even reasons why recreational marijuana should be made legal in moderation.


I’m going to start off by quickly stating the current facts about marijuana and how it is widely perceived today.

Paragraph 1:

  • Classified as Schedule 1 drug

    • High potential for abuse

    • Lack of safety under medical attention

    • No medicinal use

    • May not be prescribed by physicians

  • Physiological effects of marijuana

    • Rapid heart rate

    • Increased rate of breathing

    • Increased appetite (the munchies)

    • Slowed reaction time

    • Etc.

  • Psychological effects of marijuana

    • Distorted sense of time

    • Paranoia

    • Short-term memory loss

    • Etc.

  • Gate-way drug

    • Leading to harder drugs

    • Becoming pot heads/addicts

      • “Think of what a pot head means to you and hold on to that thought for a few minutes.”


After hearing that I bet a few of you are becoming nervous or even skeptical about marijuana, but there are many studies that proves these widely believed ideals to have no scientific merit.
Paragraph 2:

  • The Washington, DC based Marijuana Policy Project reports that there are more than 70 modern studies published verifying that marijuana does have medicinal value.

  • 1988: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ruled that marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known.

  • Therapeutic Uses:

    • Relieving chronic pain, relieving nausea, and reducing muscle spasms

    • Can be extremely beneficial to people who suffer from cancer, AIDS, and other problems

  • Marijuana less addictive than alcohol or nicotine

  • No convincing data that legalization would lead to an increase of it for recreational purposed

  • No physiological evidence that marijuana will lead to harder drugs like cocaine or heroin

    • Not a gate-way drug

  • Largest and longest study conducted on marijuana use by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows no evidence that long-term marijuana use permanently damages intelligence or memory.

  • Yes, negative side effects to marijuana, but also true for any medication used to provide relief for sicknesses

    • Ex: oxycodone

      • Medication used for patients with cancer

      • Many side effects include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, lightheadedness, loss of appetite, weakness, etc.


I’m sure many of you have heard about this issue going on in California. But for those of you who are unaware, I’ll explain what is currently going on there.
Paragraph 3:

  • Legalize marijuana in California has enough signatures to qualify for the November 2010 ballot.

  • Proposal would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21and older.

  • Residents could cultivate marijuana gardens up to 25 square feet

  • City and county governments would determine whether to permit and tax marijuana sales within their boundaries

  • Field poll conducted in April of 2009 found that 56% of Calif. Residents supported legalizing and taxing marijuana to help the state’s budget deficit

    • Illegal = not taxed legal = taxed

    • Add money to California’s funds during a time that the budget is out of balance.

    • Marijuana in California is worth an estimated $14 billion a year

    • According to the state’s Board of Equalization study, the state might generate $1.3 billion in taxes if marijuana is legal and taxed


Even though many studies prove that medicinal and recreational marijuana use are fine in moderation and should be legalized, most people are still skeptical because it’s something that our country has never done before. But the Netherlands, specifically, Amsterdam, gives a great example for the United States to follow.

Paragraph 4:

  • Distinguishes between hard drugs and soft drugs

    • Hard: heroin and cocaine

      • illegal

    • Soft: marijuana and mushrooms

    • Distinction based on whether drugs are psychologically or physically addictive

  • People over 18 can buy and smoke marijuana in coffee shops

    • Display of official, green and white sticker in the window

    • Under Dutch drug law, coffee shops are allowed to sell a maximum of 5 grams of marijuana per person to their customers

    • No use of hard drugs

    • Weed menu, often in the form of a book on the bar

    • Free to smoke in the coffee shop or somewhere else

  • Statistics: US vs. Netherlands (US department of health and human services)

    • Lifetime prevalence of marijuana use (ages 12+) 2001 36.9% - 17.0%

    • Lifetime prevalence of heroin use (ages 12+) 2001 1.4% - 0.4%

    • Drug related deaths (ODs) per million inhabitants: 38.0 - 2.4


The DEA estimates that we presently have 20 million regular uses of marijuana in the United State but, in the end, it is still an illegal drug.


In my opinion, the reputation that marijuana currently holds by many people in our country is false and misinformed. While there are some negative effects of the use of marijuana, the positive effects outweigh the negatives. Not only can those who are sick in need of help benefit from the legalization of the drug, but state’s that are in desperate need of money can find a beneficial factor as well. Go back to that thought about what a pot-head means to you. Someone who smokes weed all the time? But what if marijuana use was legal and the every day use was casual, like in Amsterdam? Would you still have that same notion of pot-heads? Although our federal government outlaws marijuana, I think that our country should look at the example set by Amsterdam and follow the path of legalizing marijuana and looking at the drug in a less concerning approach. Have a happy and safe holiday. Thank you.


  1. 1. Elders, Joycelyn. "Medical Marijuana." Medical Marijuana. ProCon.org. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. .

  2. Rosenthal, Ed, and Steve Kubby. "Marijuana Should Be Legalized for Medical Use." Opposing Viewpoints: The War on Drugs. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. CIC Penn State University. 7 Dec. 2009 .

  3. "The Netherlands Compared With The United States | Drug War Facts." Welcome | Drug War Facts. Common Sense for Drug Policy. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. .

  4. Greene, Jessica. "Pot Vote: Legalizing Marijuana Could Be On 2010 Ballot | NBC Bay Area." NBC Bay Area. 15 Dec. 2009. Web. 19 Apr. 2010. .

  5. Henderson, Peter, and Steve Gorman. "Marijuana Legalization Will Be on California Ballot | Reuters." Business & Financial News, Breaking US & International News | Reuters.com. 25 Mar. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2010. .

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